Youth football ref abused, stalked after Spartans red card

The altercation happened after a Spartans FC match. Picture: Ian Georgeson
The altercation happened after a Spartans FC match. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A REFEREE at a youth football match was threatened and abused by a spectator – who then waited for him in the car park after the game and followed him for a couple of miles in a van.

Gary McGregor was faced with a barrage of abuse from the man, believed to be a relative of a teenage player handed a red card during the under 20s Spartans v Edusport Academy match last Friday.

The family member was so incensed at the referee’s decision that he jumped the barrier at Ainslie Park after the final whistle and grabbed the referee by the arm, using threatening language.

The man – who had to be restrained by two other spectators – then told a shaken Mr McGregor that he would be waiting for him in the car park at the end of the game, before calling him an offensive term. He had earlier called the young referee a “f****** disgrace” as he left the enclosure for the second half.

One witness said: “The referee had sent a player off in the first half and this seemed to upset his relative who was sitting in the stand.

“At the end of the game the guy ran on to the pitch and grabbed hold of the referee by the shoulder and was going mental.

“He was shouting and threatening him. Two guys had to go on and pull him off the referee before the ref ran into the changing rooms.”

After cooling off for half an hour at the end of the game, the referee was escorted to his car by shocked officials for his own protection – only to be met by the spectator, who was sitting in a van, revving his engine aggressively and flashing his lights.

Mr McGregor was then followed up the road by the vehicle, before it pulled up beside him as he was trying to turn right across traffic.

The man launched a further tirade of abuse from his window before the referee was able to find a gap in the traffic and escape.

Last night police confirmed they were probing the incident. A spokeswoman said: “We can confirm we received a report in relation to an alleged assault. Inquiries are ongoing.”

It is understood the relative has now been banned from future Spartans games. A spokesman from the club declined to comment.

The SFA confirmed they had received a report from the referee “relating to the conduct of a spectator”.

They said the complaint would now be taken on and put through a disciplinary procedure.

A spokesperson for the Lowland League said: “Any matters of alleged misconduct is a matter for the SFA, therefore it would be inappropriate for us to comment.”

Mr McGregor could not be reached for comment.

alistair.grant@jpress.co.uk