Premier League matches to go ahead in Scotland
All Premier League matches in Scotland will go ahead as planned this weekend despite a strike by referees, the Scottish Football Association said Thursday.
After failing to avert a walkout by referees, who are protesting against clubs' criticism of their recent performances, the SFA said it has found match officials from outside Scotland to officiate the six top-flight games this weeekend.
''The Scottish FA can confirm that agreement has been reached with several European national associations to ensure matches in the Premier League ... will be covered this weekend,'' an SFA statement read.
The SFA did not reveal which countries would be providing referees for Premier League games, with officials from Iceland, Norway, Wales and Sweden having already indicated they would not be taking charge of matches.
The governing held talks with foreign national associations in the hope of securing referees for matches in Scotland's three other leagues, but the Scottish Football League said only one first-division game - Morton against Falkirk - would survive the industrial action.
''We have had to prioritize what resources we have been allocated this weekend for SFL games,'' an SFL statement read. ''We allocated match officials to this match as a result of a drawing of lots, which we believe was the fairest and most open way to allocate these match officials.''
Nine matches across Divisions One, Two and Three have had to be postponed.
Ross County's match against Queen of the South in the ALBA Challenge Cup - a competition for lower-league sides - will take place as scheduled on Sunday. Three Scottish Cup replays also survived.
Category 1 referees in Scotland said earlier Thursday they were standing by their decision to strike, despite the SFA offering a range of conciliatory measures.
They included stricter sanctions on players and club officials who abused referees as well as a ban on officials commenting on referees in the build-up to, and immediately after, matches.
The referees' union said the industrial action is not a ''bargaining chip'' aimed at soliciting ''quick fixes or deals.''
''The group appreciated the full impact this decision will have on fans this weekend and for that reason it was not taken lightly,'' a union statement said. ''However, it was believed to be necessary in the current climate and that it will hopefully put an end to the more extreme attacks on referees.''
There are four Premier League matches taking place on Saturday, with two more on Sunday.