THE debate over referees was going on long before I started playing, it happened while I was playing and it has continued ever since I stopped playing.

I don’t like going back to the good old days, as we call them, but there were people back then, 40 or 50 years ago, that were talking about conspiracies.

I lost a cup final because I supposedly handled the ball when it fact it never went near my hand. We lost 1-0 when Andy Lynch scored the penalty kick.

Nobody at Rangers thought there was a conspiracy or a plot against us, it was just a bad refereeing decision and one that didn’t go our way.

That is just an example. The idea that there is a favouritism for any team is nonsense but people want to have the same debates now as we did all those years ago.

If there was a plan to stop Celtic, why did they win nine-in-a-row? How have they been able to win seven trophies on the spin since Brendan Rodgers came in?

If the referees were out to deny Celtic, why did they get a penalty in the Betfred Cup final when it was ruled there was a handball, but it was outside the box?

Did you hear anyone complaining about referees then? It is only when things supposedly go against them that they make a fuss.

Mistakes happen. Our referees aren’t biased, they just make too many mistakes, and have made too many mistakes this season.

Steve Conroy came out and said that there are more referees that support Rangers than Celtic. What the hell has that got to do with anything?

I know in England the referees have to disclose what team that they support. I don’t agree with that at all, but will we end up with a situation where Scottish referees need to do the same?

If they do, then should pundits do the same? Because some of the pundits here are just as bad. Should they declare what team they support?

For the record, I was a Dundee United fan until I joined Rangers and then I became a huge Rangers fan, and I still am today. But that doesn’t cloud my vision on what I say.

It is only last week that I was critical of Craig Thomson for his handling of Rangers’ win at Cowdenbeath and gave him a hard time for getting four penalty decisions wrong.

But those decisions didn’t attract the furore from certain quarters that the calls that Andrew Dallas made during the St Mirren game on Saturday.

In my opinion, Thomson got them all wrong and there have been several occasions this season where Rangers have been hard done by and been on the wrong end of baffling decisions.

We need referees, the game can’t be played without them. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be held to account fairly.

If a player has a bad game, he gets stick from the fans, or if a manager loses games he will get criticised by the supporters and the media.

Referees shouldn’t be any different, but that doesn’t mean they are biased or conspiring against anyone or for anyone. That is nonsense.

I don’t agree with the suggestion that making them full-time will help them get more split-second decisions correct. I am in favour of VAR, though, and that will increase the percentage of calls that are made correctly.

But, until then, they have to pull their socks up. I don’t think any of them are biased or favour another team, I just think they make bad, bad decisions.

The first half of the season has been the worst for refereeing standards for a long, long time and we have had so many poor, poor decisions.

I am talking about things that could cost a team the league, see a side relegated or send them out of a cup. Getting big calls like that wrong isn’t acceptable.

Scotland isn’t the only country that has bad referees but I don’t care what is happening in England or in Europe. All I am concerned about is the standard here rising, and quickly.