Scotland’s referees are embroiled in a dispute over significant payment discrepancies between taking charge of matches in the Premiership and the Championship.
Match officials are paid £840 for a top-flight encounter, but just £195 for a second-tier showdown involving the likes of Rangers, Hibs and Hearts.
Refs feel this is wrong given the level of scrutiny and intensity surrounding the Championship this season and have sought talks with Hampden officials aimed at having the payment brought into line with the Premiership.
Scottish Senior Football Referees Association chief James Bee has already held talks with those who govern the referees, but so far there is no sign of a resolution, with the SPFL reportedly reluctant to sanction any pay rise while the search goes on for a league sponsor. Instead, it has been suggested that the SSRFA should look to redistribute the current cash pot and categorise matches.
For example, the Rangers v Hearts game, for which Craig Thomson was paid only £195 on Sunday, would instead carry a much higher payment, possibly in the region of £700, while a lower-profile Premiership match, such as Hamilton v Inverness, would have a much-reduced fee of around £335.
The SSRFA do not agree with such logic, however, and believe that all Championship matches, including those which don’t feature any of the big three, should be worthy of a payment in line with the Premiership.
Bee hopes to hold further talks on the issue, but if the impasse continues, officials could vote to take industrial action and go on strike, as they did in 2010 in protest at what they felt was over-the-top criticism.
• Willie Collum will take charge of Sunday’s clash between Hearts and Hibs at Tynecastle.