Hearts manager Craig Levein has had his say on the latest refereeing row to engulf the Scottish Premiership – and admitted that reports of foreign referees taking charge of games came as a “complete surprise” to him.

The Daily Record had reported on Wednesday that the Scottish FA had agreed to look at the idea – but Levein thinks widening the pool of FIFA officials in Scotland would be a better move.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 10: Craig Levein, Manager of Hearts looks on prior to the Scottish Cup 5th Round match between Heart of Midlothian and Auchinleck Talbot at Tynecastle Stadium on February 10, 2019 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

“The foreign referees was a complete surprise to me. I was at a meeting last week and it was never brought up,” Levein told BT Sport.

“But I do think we make problems for ourselves by not strengthening up all the different local refereeing associations. The Glasgow and Lanarkshire refs do most of the big games. We have seven FIFA officials and all of them are from Glasgow or Lanarkshire.


“So if you ask these guys because they are the top referees to do an Old Firm game then the pressures are enormous. You saw what happened to John Beaton. That type of thing comes from him living in the heartlands of those clubs. They can’t get away from it.

ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - DECEMBER 22: Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes applauds fans at the final whistle during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match between Aberdeen and Hearts at Pittodrie Stadium on December 22, 2018 in Aberdeen, Scotland.

(Photo by Scott Baxter/Getty Images)

“If we beefed up the other associations in there we could put an Edinburgh ref in there, a Fife ref or an Aberdeen ref. And that would be a way of taking the pressure off referees.”

Levein has a point – although given the bulk of Scotland’s population live in those areas then it isn’t a surprise that there is a larger number of referees.

FRANKFURT, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 29: referee John Beaton during the UEFA Europa League match between Eintracht Frankfurt v Olympique Marseille at the Commerzbank Arena on November 29, 2018 in Frankfurt Germany

(Photo by Jeroen Meuwsen/Soccrates/Getty Images)

Even allowing for improvements made to regional refereeing and having better referees from Fife or Edinburgh, there is still a good chance that they will be a Rangers or Celtic fan.

You can go into plenty of communities all across the country that are full of fans of the Old Firm.

The big issue is getting more quality officials – regardless of which part of the country they are from.

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