Skip to main content

Brian Rice thinks referees have been more lenient in behind-closed-doors games

Celtic v Hamilton Academical – Scottish Premiership – Celtic Park
(Image credit: Ian McNichol)

Hamilton boss Brian Rice believes referees have been more lenient in the behind-closed-doors games this season.

Scottish Premiership fixtures have been played without supporters in the stadiums since the start of the campaign due to coronavirus restrictions.

Ahead of the Lanarkshire derby against Motherwell at Fir Park on Saturday, where Accies look for their first win of the season after three straight defeats, Rice was asked if he had noticed anything different in the matches played in empty grounds.

He said: “The referees have definitely been far more lenient with players, as in yellow cards.

“But I think it’s great credit to players as well because the players are not diving and rolling about as much now.

“You find that when you have a crowd in, the players play the crowd a wee bit and the crowd is up in arms and referees sometimes react.

“So I think the referees have been far more lenient, I think that’s in conjunction with the players behaving properly.

“I must admit I like it. There’s a wee bit of a leeway.

“We are always moaning at referees for booking people and red cards that we don’t think are red cards.

“I think they have to be applauded when they are doing well and I have absolutely no complaints about the refereeing standards so far.

“I am not saying less fouls are being given, I am saying less yellow cards.

“The play is moving a lot more freely now. I don’t think the physios are on the pitch as much because the players are going down and getting back up and on with it where they possibly can.”

Rice, however, believes that lenient approach will melt away when the fans return.

He said: “We hope that will continue but we know it won’t.

“It is easy to make a decision when there is no crowd there and it is easy to get up when there is no crowd there and you are not playing to them.

“It is part and parcel of football.”