FROM the legendary Tiny Wharton to some of the top modern-day referees on the continent, former Scotland manager Craig Brown has seen them all. And in his capacity as a player and then a manager, he has had more than a few barneys with officials over the decades.

But in all that time, he has never accused or suspected an official as being dishonest. And as much as he is hardly impressed by the current standard of refereeing in Scotland, he says that the Scottish Football Association’s resources would be better spent on improving our own officials over the long-term rather than the short-term fix of parachuting in referees from elsewhere.

“I don’t see the point in bringing foreign referees in honestly,” said Brown.

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“I was with Motherwell during the referee strike in 2010, and I don’t think they were any better than what we had here at that time.

“I’ve got to say, the standard currently in Scotland doesn’t excite me, and the quality isn’t what it was.

“I can go right back to Jack Mowat I’m that old, and then Tiny Wharton and these guys, and they were exceptional. You had them and Bobby Davidson, the legends of the refereeing world.

“I don’t think the present-day standard though is so bad that it requires foreign referees to be brought in.

“Nowadays with intense television coverage and social media, it is getting more and more difficult for officials, so I have a bit of sympathy for the refereeing fraternity. The money it would take to bring referees in would be better spent on improving the ones we have.

“I honestly don’t think we need to go outside of Scotland to get quality referees. There has been that talent there in the past, and there are more than enough referees who are competent here.

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“Everyone makes mistakes, the managers do, that’s for sure. But referee’s mistakes now are so highlighted in the various media sources.

“We should invest in more training of the current referees and more video analysis of their own decisions so they get a unanimous feel for what they should be doing. That would be great.”

Brown sympathises with former Motherwell colleague Stewart Robertson, now chief executive at Rangers, who launched a broadside at the BBC this week for putting certain decisions under the microscope through ‘trial by Sportscene’.

But he would also like to see calls heeded for greater transparency from the SFA around referees made by the likes of Aberdeen chairman Stewart Milne, where Brown is now on the board.

He said: “I do agree with Stewart Robertson, who I hold in the highest regard because I worked with him at Motherwell and thought he was an outstanding legislator, over trial by television not being acceptable. That’s a fair statement.

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“I’ve also got to agree with our chairman Stewart Milne when he says that he would like a review of the whole structure. I totally agree with that, and certainly when it comes to transparency.

“If a referee has had a bad game, he quietly gets taken out of the Premiership for a week or two, and then he reappears. Now, we’re not told that he is dropped, and perhaps they don’t want to embarrass the guy, but there is a lack of consistency and transparency.

“I’m not for one minute saying the referees’ mistakes are worse than the managers’ mistakes or the players’ mistakes, and I don’t think they are deliberately biased. I have never accused them of that, although I’ve accused them of making mistakes and I would moan at them quite a lot when I was a manager.

“But we want the game to be healthy, and I think greater transparency from the top would help.”