Stunned Hibs head coach Paul Heckingbottom describes Steven McLean’s decision to apologise to Rangers boss Steven Gerrard ‘foolish’ and ‘crazy’

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HIBS head coach Paul Heckingbottom has lambasted ‘foolish’ referee Steven McLean following his decision to apologise to Steven Gerrard for overlooking a foul on James Tavernier, insisting the official has created a ‘crazy’ precedent.

It was reported this week that McLean contacted the Rangers boss after failing to penalise Stephane Omeonga when he appeared to impede the Gers captain during the 1-1 draw between the sides seven days ago.

Hibs went on to score from the resulting counter-attack, allowing Flo Kamberi to salvage a point for the Easter Road outfit.

Heckingbottom was visibly staggered by development, claiming he has never received such a call, would never expect one and stating that it will do nothing to help the perception of much-maligned Scottish whistlers.

“I have never had that happen to me before,” said Heckingbottom. “But I have not been up here long – so they have not got my number yet! But no, I won’t be expecting the same. He shouldn’t be doing it. It was foolish.

“Was I surprised? Yeah, really surprised. I think it was an error of judgment, a really bad decision. I don’t know what the leadership is and what the guidelines are – but it’s not going to help. I can guarantee that, 100 per cent.

“It’s crazy. They [the SPFL] need to look at that and they need to be really strong about it.

“If it was a quiet word on the day when you bump into each other in the corridor and he said: ‘Steven I got that one wrong, fine’. But to phone someone up? I can’t get my head around it.”

A stunned Heckingbottom is adamant McLean has only served to pile more pressure on his fellow referees, suggesting it could open the floodgates of bosses expecting explanations for every contentious decision.

“This is another thing that’s going to be thrown at them now,” he added. “I cannot believe he [McLean] has done it. Where does it stop? Because I guarantee you there will be another 20 or 30 wrong decisions and probably another 100 in every game which are contentious.

“Is it just the fact a goal came from that one? What about the goals that could have come from other ones? What about every other decision they get wrong?”

As well as continuing to improve the standard of refereeing, Heckingbottom hopes guidelines are put in place so referees are not moved to phone managers after the fact, adding: “We need stronger guidelines and better direction in how they handle match days, decision making and, certainly, not being influenced by what is being said about them.”

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