St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright believes it is time for the “public flogging” of referees to stop.
The Northern Irishman has backed under-fire official Steven McLean, who will take charge of his team’s Premiership match at St Mirren today.
McLean was on the end of a torrent of criticism from Kilmarnock boss Steve Clarke last weekend, an outburst that has seen Clarke called to an SFA disciplinary hearing on May 9 to answer a charge of indicating “bias or incompetence” by an official.
Wright feels it has all gone a bit over the top.
He said: “I have no problems with Steven and was surprised at Kilmarnock’s reference to him finding it difficult refereeing them.
“I don’t think the stats back that up and I remember games down there where we haven’t had decisions but that happens and you just have to get on with it.
“Refs have good games and they have bad games.
“Publicly flogging them doesn’t help.
“There have been too many public bashings this year.
“All season I have tried to not comment on refs publicly because it doesn’t achieve anything.”
Wright isn’t claiming to be an angel when it comes to his dealings with the men in black – far from it – but he thinks they deserve to be respected as people trying to do their job to the best of their ability.
Indeed, he labelled the atmosphere around them as “vile.”
The Saints gaffer added: “Like everyone, I have had rants about them and have had run-ins with them on the sidelines.
“But it’s a difficult job and the consensus after the (referees’) meeting we had was that we would try to keep everything in-house.
“We need to have more respect for refs because the atmosphere has been vile this season.
“It has been the worst since I arrived in Scotland and I know people will say they deserve it but I don’t think it helps.
“There is a culture in football that you don’t get in other sports and it needs to change.
“I’m not saying I’m innocent and have never crossed the line in the past but I think this season has shown we have to change things.
“We have to help the referees rather than slaughter them.”