Former Celtic captain Tom Boyd has called for the introduction of ‘neutral’ referees following another weekend of controversy in the top flight. Boyd believes that Celtic players are not receiving adequate protection from referees and has called into question the decisions of the weekend as

Celtic had two penalty calls at McDiarmid Park turned away while Rangers were awarded four spot-kicks in their win over St Mirren.

In 2010, the SFA had to take the unprecedented move of bringing in officials from Malta, Luxembourg and Israel to take charge of a weekend of games after referees held a strike in protest at what they felt was a lack of protection over unjust criticism.

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There was a summit held last month in Perth with top flight managers and referees after a series of complaints this term, with Celtic particularly incensed at the manner in which Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos was not sanctioned for a trio of illegalities in the December game at Ibrox.

And Boyd was scathing not just of the current standard, insisting that importing referees is the only way to solve the current crisis.

“There is something way wrong with the standard of officiating just now for whatever reason,” said Boyd.

“It needs to be addressed and the only solution is to bring in the neutral referees who came in a few years ago and did ever so well. If things even themselves up over the course of a season then I would need to wait about one hundred years before they are evened up.

“You see the decisions which have been given, particularly at the weekend, where stonewall penalties were denied for us where another game the incident was outside the box yet it was given.

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“It’s something which brings is us to what Jock Stein said, he said we need to be better than referees.

“Sometimes that can be very difficult. Inefficiency and incompetence, it could be any referee at this moment in time.”

Despite Boyd’s ire, he maintained that he did not see anything untoward behind the performance of officials, but he did lament the fact that Celtic players are not being afforded adequate protection on the pitch due to their negligence.

“I've seen two waist-high challenges on [Odsonne] Edouard and neither were seen as fouls and that's not acceptable,” he lamented.

“I don't think it's sinister I just think there's bad referees, very poor in their decision-making. It's happening consistently - players aren't being afforded protection. The amount of challenges that are going unpunished from opposition players on Celtic players - I can recall Ryan Bowman on Kieran Tierney can recall [Jason] Holt's challenge on Patrick Roberts that was a two-footed challenge from behind, no foul given, so it is something that needs to be addressed.

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“We've tried to address it - I believe the club are still looking for answers for the decisions from the derby game at the end of December and there haven't been any solutions. It's something we need to seek right away and the only solution I can see is bringing in neutral referees because the ones we have at the moment cannot handle the games, from what I'm seeing on the field.”

Willie Collum, in charge of Celtic’s game on Sunday afternoon, is held in significant esteem by both UEFA and FIFA, but Boyd has questioned the officiating ability of the whistler.

“In who’s opinion is Collum the best referee in Scotland? Is that Uefa’s opinion?” he asked.

“I was very surprised it wasn’t a penalty [ on Sunday] after the reckless challenge from Joe Shaughnessy [on Edouard].

“I do recall Willie Collum sending off James Forrest at New Douglas Park for a slightly less challenge so there’s no consistency in Mr Collum’s refereeing in a lot of Celtic games.

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“That seems to be a massive problem just now.

“All of the penalties must have been given away on the Saturday rather than the Sunday. There were two penalty kicks within the same incident. Ryan Christie was tackled on the chest.

“The Oliver Burke incident was also a penalty as you can’t go through the player to play the ball. There were two incidents as one of the penalties which should have been given had two incidents in the same move.

“There is no consistency.”

VAR has been suggested as a means of solving the inconsistency of refereeing, but Boys believes that if the same referees are involved in the interpretation of it that the problems will not be going away.

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“Video assistants would help to a degree, but you're still going to have the same people who'll be making those decisions,” he said. “Would assistants referee help them? Who knows, if you're still getting the same answers. You can get four guys seeing different things going by their opinions. That's what seems to be happening. The inconsistency of refereeing is absolutely frightening.”

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