Celtic Park

“We were genuinely scared for our safety” – Former ref blames Lennon for ref abuse

This is quite bizarre.

Referee performances is Scotland have long been the subject of criticism. For as long as I can remember.

The SFA employees have a long history of getting major decisions wrong and it the amount of criticism they received got so bad that they voted to go on strike back in 2010.

But former referee Steve Conroy told the Get Involved Referee podcast that he believed Neil Lennon was one of the main catalysts for the abuse refs got when he was the Celtic manager.

Conroy said, “We were genuinely scared for our safety back then. We were worried that someone was going to get hurt – either at work or at home – because it was constant. It wasn’t just criticism ‘Oh Conroy got it wrong again’ it was personal insults and personal threats.

“And you’ll never convince me other than it was totally orchestrated by others to deflect from adverse events that were going on elsewhere. People were genuinely worried about going to games. It was a tough time and it was horrible.

“It wasn’t solely, but it was mainly a couple of teams and a couple of individuals that it made it very difficult and very unpleasant to do your work at that time.

“There was genuine heartfelt fear that something was going to happen either to us or to someone in the family – and certain officials were not condemning it.

“Neil Lennon was not a friend of referees back then and mad Vlad wasn’t helping things either. It all turned and everything that they did wrong was blamed on us and we were deliberately targeted.”

Then he makes this utterly bizarre statement. Remember when Celtic were awarded a penalty against Dundee United then referee Dougie McDonald lied about the reasons why he rescinded it? Conroy said about that, “Dougie didn’t help and he played into the hands of Mr Lennon and we just proved that there was a vendetta against Celtic and everything they were saying about us was correct.

“I was secretary of the refs association at the time and it got to the point that we were not willing to put up with it any more. However, I don’t think any of us anticipated a majority vote to withdraw our labour.

“I don’t think it will ever happen again. Things are certainly not as toxic as they were back then and if I reference Jim Goodwin who said David Dickinson was conned by Ryan Porteous in the Hibs-Aberdeen game back in 2010 that would have been completely different. The ref would have got it.”

Played into Lennon’s hands? Did Lennon make him award the penalty, then rescind it then make up a lie about it in his match report?

This stinks of passing the buck.

Whilst I agree that referee abuse is shocking and no ones family should feel threatened over a game of football, to put the blame of the actions of a few headcases at the door of Neil Lennon is just deflecting from the real issue.

The referee’s in Scotland are terrible. The have been for years. From Jorge Cadete’s disallowed goal at Ibrox, to the McDonald lies there are countless decisions that refs have made against us that we could go into.

Maybe the refs should get their own house in order before slinging mud at former Celtic employees.

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