The following Q & A will help to clarify a number of points which have been the subject of debate, discussion and, in some cases, misrepresentation in recent weeks.
Can the Compliance Officer take retrospective action for on-field incidents?
The Compliance Officer can only raise a Fast Track Notice of Complaint and take retrospective action when an on field incident, or an exceptional part of an on field incident, has been unseen by the match officials.
When investigating a potential Fast Track case, the Compliance Officer does not seek any opinion on the incident from the match officials, or ask them to reconsider any decision made. This has not changed. The decision of the referee regarding facts connected with play will always be respected in line with the Laws of the Game. It is for this reason that the disciplinary rules relating to retrospective action only come into effect when an incident, or part of an incident, is unseen by the match officials.
When the match officials confirm an on field incident is unseen, the Compliance Officer seeks opinions from three independent experts. Those experts are drawn from a pool of former Category 1 referees, who are up to date with current refereeing guidelines. A Fast Track Notice of Complaint can only competently be raised when all three experts provide written evidence that the incident constituted a sending off offence.
How does the Claims process work?
In certain circumstances a player or a club can raise a Claim against a wrongful dismissal, mistaken identity, or wrongful caution for simulation.
A specially trained Fast Track Tribunal determines whether there has been an obvious refereeing error based on the case put forward by the player/club, a factual report by the referee, and the relevant laws of the game. Every Fast Track Tribunal includes an expert on the Laws of the Game. If it is determined that an obvious refereeing error has been made, the disciplinary action taken by the match referee can be rescinded by the Fast Track Tribunal.
It should be noted that the Compliance Officer is not involved in the Claims process. In addition, the disciplinary department itself does not make any decision on whether a sanction should be imposed, or a red card rescinded.
Has the system changed this season?
The rules relating to the Claims procedure and Fast Track Notices of Complaint changed for season 2018/19 following extensive consultation across the Scottish footballing family.
There was input on the proposed revisions to Section 13 of the Judicial Panel Protocol (relating to Fast Track Proceedings) from a range of different stakeholders. This included clubs, players’ representatives, the Head of Referee Operations, and the Scottish Senior Football Referees Association. All parties agreed that the revisions were appropriate and necessary.
What information is published?
A focussed effort has been made by to improve transparency and understanding of the disciplinary processes this season.
The disciplinary section of the Scottish FA website makes available all of the recent determinations of the disciplinary tribunals. It also includes full written reasons for each of the cases determined by a Fast Track Tribunal. Those reasons may include excerpts from the referee’s statement. Referees are advised as part of the process that the statements provided by them are evidence, to be considered by the Tribunal.
The Judicial Panel Protocol and the Scottish FA’s Handbook are also available online.
The fully searchable disciplinary section of the website can be found here - https://www.scottishfa.co.uk/scottish-fa/football-governance/disciplinary/disciplinary-updates/.
We are committed to enforcing the highest standards of behaviour and professionalism across the Scottish game.
It is our responsibility to protect match officials and the integrity of the Laws of the Game and apply our disciplinary rules with fairness and consistency.