Weir: Ref row bad for game

Rangers captain David Weir believes the referees row is damaging the image of Scottish football.

Rangers captain David Weir believes the referees row is damaging the image of Scottish football.

Referees north of the border have voted to go on strike this weekend, with the Scottish Football Association now looking to recruit match officials from elsewhere.

Speaking ahead of Rangers’ Champions League game against Manchester United, Weir said: “It’s definitely had an effect on the game. In the real world these things happen.

“The Italian players have got a dispute just now and there have been disputes in England in the past.

“It’s just the nature of our industry. I don’t think the football will be any different.

“But I think it damages the game. We’ve all got a certain responsibility to the game, to promote it and treat it with a bit of respect.

“But these things happen so why should our industry be any different to anyone else?”

With injuries mounting and the task of juggling domestic duties with European football, Rangers are one of the few teams who may welcome a free weekend.

But not as far as Weir is concerned.

He added: “I think if you asked any player they would rather be in a busy spell of games and playing games.

“If you start having days off and rests then I think it creates more problems.

“Whatever happens tomorrow night, we will be desperate to play again on Sunday. It’s a big game, as they all are, and tomorrow is the game we are looking at just now.”

Rangers manager Walter Smith refused to be drawn on the planned strike action, insisting his sole focus was on the visit of Manchester United.

“I don’t know whether the games will go ahead or not,” he said.

“From our point of view, the concentration is on tomorrow night’s game first and foremost.”

Smith is still sweating over the fitness of Sasa Papac for the visit of the Barclays Premier League giants.

The defender suffered concussion after sustaining a head knock that required 10 stitches a couple of weeks ago.

And, if he is ruled out for tomorrow’s crucial clash, the Rangers boss will be forced to change the ultra-defensive formation that has served him well in the majority of Champions League games so far.

Smith said: “Yesterday it didn’t look as though he would be able to play but we will give him every opportunity.

“If he’s not fit, we would have to look at making a change to the manner in which we play.

“The way we play in the Champions League is different from the way we play our normal home games so we can revert to more of a normal situation quite easily.”

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