Refs set to resume SFA dialogue

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Scottish refereeing chiefs will resume dialogue with the Scottish Football Association on Wednesday - after a "constructive" start to the crunch talks.

Referees on Sunday voted to withdraw their labour, bringing this weekend's scheduled Clydesdale Bank Premier League, Irn Bru Football League and Alba Challenge Cup final fixtures into doubt.

But discussions are set to carry over into Wednesday, with the prospect of averting a weekend strike seemingly possible.

A spokesman for grade one match officials said: "After a constructive three-hour meeting with the SFA, talks are due to continue (on Wednesday). But the situation is that the weekend position is unaltered at present."

Scottish football is unlikely to find a foreign solution to the local problem after it emerged that the SFA are struggling to replace striking referees with officials from overseas.

Scottish officials have had enough of the abuse and criticism which they claim has been on the increase this season. And since news of the strike emerged, SFA chief executive Stewart Regan has been scouring Europe for replacements, with Iceland, Ireland and the Scandinavian countries among his targets.

However, Rune Pedersen, head of referees for the Norwegian FA, said officials in Norway would not be making themselves available this weekend.

"We have informed the SFA that we are unable to supply them with referees," he said. "There are three main reasons why. First of all, there are 12 top-class referees and 25 assistants who are down to go to Denmark for a seminar at the weekend.

"Secondly, there are 12 of our referees preparing for Europa League games next week. But referees are also worried about taking charge of matches in Scotland when their colleagues in Scotland are in dispute with their FA.

"I have discussed it with them and they have said they would not approve of referees coming to Norway if they had been in conflict with the Norwegian FA."

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