Scottish FA may import foreign refs

LONDON - Scottish football could be refereed by foreign match officials next weekend under contingency plans being drawn up to beat a threatened referees' strike.

The country's leading referees voted unanimously on Sunday to strike because of increasing levels of abuse and criticism from some clubs and individuals that they say has put their safety at risk.

Scottish Premier League leaders Rangers are due to face Dundee United on Sunday while nearest challengers Celtic are at home to Inverness on Saturday.

Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan said in a statement on Monday that he sympathised with the referees and understood their reasons but could not condone strike action.

While calling for "positive dialogue to avert the possibility that we will have no football this weekend", he said measures were being put in place to ensure matches could go ahead.

"Fulfilling the weekend fixture calendar is our priority and we have an obligation to the leagues, supporters, clubs, sponsors and media partners to do our utmost to ensure all senior games are refereed," said Regan.

"While we remain hopeful that the situation can be resolved to everyone's satisfaction, we have no option but to draw up contingency plans, which will involve sourcing match officials in other countries."

BBC Scotland reported that the country's 14 second tier referees had agreed not to step in as replacements but a number of Welsh, Irish and English referees would be available.