Criticism is part of the game

Jim Jefferies knows that the arrival of foreign officials to handle games in the Scottish game will do nothing to move the spotlight from an officials performance. Every decision will be closely scrutinised and he believes the domestic withdrawal of labour by Scottish referees is "a step too far" and will not prevent managers from criticising decisions in future. The SFA have scoured the world for suitably qualified referees to allow the full SPL card to be played as planned after they reached agreement with "several European national associations".  Hearts travel to Motherwell on Sunday and Jefferies predicts the usual conjecture over officials' performances will follow each game this weekend. He said: "The referees that referee the game on Saturday will make bad decisions, they'll make honest decisions and there will probably be comments come Monday about some of the referees that come in. It's Scottish football after all. Often in Europe you don't get away with things, it's a different type of football - you'll have that to contend with as well."

The Hearts boss is not happy that domestic referees have resorted to withdrawing their labour. He went on: "It's just maybe a step too far. I think they could get what they want by sitting down and trying to get it sorted out. They're in a strong position and they've obviously made up their minds they're going to see it through. If they were to back down everybody would be saying it was just a bit of a bluff, so they're showing the strength that they've really been hurt by what's been going on. We know there's a certain club that have been making a lot of statements against them which has caused them to be even more angry. I can see where they're coming from. Enough's enough. They've been getting it from all quarters and a lot of people are not letting this thing go. They want to make a stance on it and I can understand it but I don't think it's right - I think it can be sorted out in other ways. But that's the way of the world - if you're not happy with something you go on strike."

The SFA have offered more stringent disciplinary measures banning all club officials from commenting on referees before and immediately after games. But with referees not willing to suspend their strike until the measures are implemented, Jefferies, who insists punishments are already enforced, sees no quick resolution to the problem. He said: "I think that's the case just now. We get punished for doing it, we're up before the SFA for bringing the game into disrepute. There's more comments being made now because people like you (the media) want statements from managers. Criticism is part of the game - managers get it, players get it, officials get it. Referees have got to accept it's part and parcel. The first games back after it's all resolved there will be comments and something will happen - that's football, you'll never stop that. People will now just be a bit more wary that they can't go over the top with it and if we do we're the ones who are going to get punished more, through more games in the stand or financially."