BRENDAN Rodgers last night told a meeting of Ladbrokes Premiership managers and referees’ representatives that Scottish match officials must turn professional to reduce the number of mistakes being made.

Rodgers attended a gathering called by SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell at McDiarmid Park in Perth in the wake of a series of high-profile controversies this season along with his Rangers counterpart Steven Gerrard.

The former Swansea City and Liverpool manager stressed the need for referees to go full-time, like their counterparts down in England, in order to significantly improve the standard of officiating in this country.

“Referees going full-time is a big one for me,” he said. “Where the money comes from I don’t know, but for me it is one of the areas I would look at, them being professional.

“If you are refereeing a game at the weekend – and I think they do their best – then you come together on a Monday because it is your job. Then you can analyse and you can look at areas where you were really good in the game, areas where you could be better.

“Then you are mentored in that situation and can exchange ideas with other referees and then that preparation will give you confidence. When you go into your next games that confidence makes you better. You are better prepared then to deal with pressure and pressurised situations.

“They are not only officiating here. They are asked to go into European games with high stakes and high pressure. I respect some of the guys have good jobs, but I do think there is a need for that and there is also a need to protect players.

“If you have refereed a game at the weekend and you have got to get to your work on a Monday and focus on your job ‘til 5pm or 3pm or whenever it is, then your full concentration isn’t on the (refereeing) job.

“These guys are going into high pressure situations and asked to deal with that type of pressure. If you are prepared and working hard at your game then the more you put into it then it gives you confidence. It doesn’t guarantee anything, but you should succeed at a better level.”

Rodgers also asked for clarity about the disciplinary process that prevented SFA compliance officer Clare Whyte from issuing a notice of complaint against Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos after a league game against Celtic at Ibrox last month despite three separate incidents being flagged up.

“You can be in a game and watching it, but when you go back and analyse it, it’s never as bad, or as good, as you think at the time,” he said.

“Sometimes these referees are in the game and make their report, but when they come away after a couple of days and analyse it, things may look different. But under the current structure here, they can’t change it. It’s about looking at the whole process really.

“I just think there’s some really poor decisions. It’s been consistent. It’s maybe highlighted more now a bit, but it’s about trying to ensure the game doesn’t become reckless.

“I’ve been saying it since I came here, when Kieran Tierney suffered a bad tackle (in a game against Motherwell in 2017). The safety of players is the main thing.

“We all make mistakes, referees, managers, players, every one of us. You have to be able to make mistakes but it’s about not making as many of them. It’s important to have a structure that supports referees.

“It’s about getting the right decisions for the greater good of the game, other than just protecting referees. It’s a very difficult job, we all recognise that, but it’s about getting consistency. They just need a bit of help, but it’s also about how they can help themselves. Having that professional attitude on a day to day basis would help them improve.”

Asked about the meeting at the Rangers’ pre-match press conference yesterday, Rangers manager Gerrard said: “I am looking forward to hearing what the SFA have to say, what is on the agenda and what comes out of that. I'm all for these type of meetings.”