Celtic boss Neil Lennon has revealed he was encouraged by yesterday’s meeting with the Scottish Football Association’s compliance officer, Vincent Lunny.
A delegation of Scottish Premier League managers, including Steve Lomas, Kenny Shiels and Jim Jefferies, met with Lunny at Hampden following a recent plea by Lennon for better communication between bosses, referees and the SFA and clearer guidelines on acceptable behaviour.
Lennon has not been in trouble this season but fellow Irishmen Lomas and Shiels have found themselves in hot water recently.
St Johnstone manager Lomas, currently subject of an eight-match touchline ban, faces further sanctions after being called before an SFA disciplinary hearing later this month for kicking a water bottle during his team’s 1-0 defeat against Hibernian on 28 November.
Kilmarnock manager Shiels has been served with two separate notices of complaint from the Scottish FA.
The Rugby Park boss has to explain critical remarks made about referee Euan Norris after his side’s defeat to Inverness on 3 November, and he faces further scrutiny after protesting against the red card shown to his captain Manuel Pascali during a home defeat to St Johnstone last month.
Lunny will meet with all the SPL bosses in the new year but Lennon believes progress has already been made in a bid to eradicate some of the tension between managers and the authorities.
“It was very productive,” he said, ahead of tomorrow night’s William Hill Scottish Cup fourth-round replay against Arbroath at Gayfield Park.
“It wasn’t a question of any heated arguments, it was just points being put across from both sides and John Fleming (SFA’s head of referee development) came in for the last hour or so.
“Alex Smith, head of the managers’ association, was there and we are hoping to draw up a few proposals to take to Vincent and see where that takes us.
“One rule was brought up, (what can be said in post-match press conferences) we feel that there is a vague sort of grey areas in the rules and sanctions on managers as well.
“I don’t want to go into in-depth because there was a lot of things said that will remain private but it was very productive.”
Top Scottish referee Craig Thomson believes there remains a healthy respect between officials and managers, but admits he would like to turn the tables on critical bosses and see them taking over the whistle.
Category One referee Thomson, along with Bobby Madden, was at Hampden today to undertake their FIFA referee medicals at the Sports Medicine Centre and afterwards he spoke, with a degree of humour, about his idea which he believes would help mutual understanding.
“I would love managers and coaches to referee a match, just to see what it is like,” Thomson told Press Association Sport.
“Yes, they do it at training but maybe just to referee a match to see how difficult some of the decisions are and I would love to go and watch them.
“And maybe for us to go more into their training grounds, even to help referee training games as well, that is an opportunity to build up relationships.
“The more and more contact with each other, outwith the matches, I think is a benefit.
“I would like to think we have a good relationship with the managers, we get a lot of respect from them which is what we are really looking for.
“They are not going to agree with every decision and it would be foolhardy to think that would be the case.
“But I will always say to the coaches that my door is always open.
“We all know how emotional the game is and so after the 15-minute window we are happy to speak to any coaches that come to the door.”