Scottish referees’ decision-making could be skewed this weekend by the row surrounding the appeals process, a former top official has warned.
Managers and players have criticised recent Scottish FA tribunal decisions.
“Heading out on to the pitch, you need to put it to the back of your mind and referee it as it happens,” Charlie Richmond told BBC Scotland.
“You’ll be running through your mind though – is that a red card? You might err on the side of caution.”
Richmond suggested: “This weekend, you might see a lot of refs taking their time to make decisions now.”
Aberdeen and Kilmarnock are unhappy because of failed appeals on behalf of Michael Devlin and Gary Dicker respectively.
Rangers won an appeal against a red card shown to Alfredo Morelos.
Meanwhile, Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon has asked for transparency after no action was take against Rangers counterpart Allan McGregor for kicking-out at team-mate Kristoffer Ajer.
The SFA has this season been publishing explanations of appeal tribunal decisions, but Richmond thinks the governing body could “explain decisions better”.
“It all comes from the wording from the World Cup,” Richmond suggested, pointing to guidelines that suggest “brutality” is required for a red card.
“If you’d said to me, explain brutality, you’re away down a different route than just saying violent conduct.”
The SFA has written to the International Football Association Board seeking clarification over what constitutes a red card.
What they said
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes: “The appeal process, for me, just has to show more common sense.
“There are rules to abide by and there are always ways around justifying a decision, but it’s the common sense recently that has maybe frustrated everyone across the board – from supporters, players, staff, journalists, people within the game.
“The appeals process is there to help the referee come to the right outcome and I don’t think it’s helping the referees recently.”
Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke: “We just want consistency in decisions, consistency in who you charge and who you don’t charge – that’s all we ask for.
“Just put it across the board, the same for every club.”
Hibernian head coach Neil Lennon: “I understand Steve’s frustration. I understand Aberdeen’s frustrations. Looking at the two incidents, I didn’t think Gary Dicker’s was a red card. I am not sure Devlin’s was either.
“So there is a consistency issue there. Did Gary use excessive force in the tackle? I am not so sure. I thought it was a decent tackle. And the Devlin one – probably a yellow card.
“As for the other incidents with Allan McGregor and Morelos, there probably wasn’t excessive force in those two cases, so I can understand why they were rescinded.”
Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon: “It seems quite a clouded subject in how they get to the decisions.
“Certainly, if there are incidents that the referee misses, there has to be that system in place that there is retrospective action and they should be getting that right.
“We just need to know what exactly is happening, what is violent conduct and what is not and then everybody abides by those laws and gets on with it.”
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers: “It probably needs clarification. We have seen a number of incidents in this early part of the season where players have been punished or not punished.
“So it’s probably just clarity needed and a voice within the federation can let everyone know.
“I have seen something around brutality on the pitch. Unfortunately that’s the police that deals with that, that is not for the referee.
“If there is excessive force or something like that then that would merit a red card, but it is then open to interpretation.”