BY ALAN TEMPLE – Capital City Press
Alan Stubbs has questioned why there was no fourth official present for Hibs’ contentious 1-0 win over Falkirk on Tuesday night.
The Easter Road head coach was baffled by the absence, given the encounter was a pivotal clash between third and fourth in the Scottish Championship and there was only one other game being played elsewhere in the country.
The SFA release referees for duty and it is up to the SPFL to assign them at their discretion. Fixtures outwith the Premiership are largely not assigned fourth officials unless they are televised, with Stubbs claiming a shortfall of personnel is cited as the reason.
And Stubbs – whose side will take part in another top-of-the-table fixture against Raith Rovers tomorrow without a fourth official – believes an exception should have been made.
He said: “You would think that, with only two games on, there would be enough officials. I don’t now how they are allocated and it is very rare that we have them.
“There was one at Ibrox, probably because it was on BBC Alba, but the reason we are normally given is that there is a full card of fixtures on and there are not enough officials.
“Well, on Tuesday night there were two games on in Scotland and it was third playing fourth. I would have thought that would have been recognised as a big game.
“We’ll have one when we play Rangers, with that being on TV. But would there have been one anyway? Does a game like that not demand a full set of officials? I would like to think so.”
The game was ultimately decided by a controversial Jason Cummings penalty after Blair Alston was adjudged to have impeded John McGinn inside the box by referee Alan Muir.
Although he acknowledges that a fourth official may not have altered the outcome on Tuesday, Stubbs believes extra pair of eyes on the sidelines would have been beneficial to embattled ref Muir.
He added: “Yes, it’s just more chance of getting a decision right.
“It may not have changed things, however the fourth officials do speak and are in conjunction with the other officials as the game goes on. It may not look it, but they play a part.
“If you look back, the fourth official had something to do in the Queen of the South-Rangers game, when Derek Lyle was sent off, so they do aid decisions.”