Johnson: We need full-time refs

By Graeme Croser



dmg media (UK)

Six Nations

HIBS boss Lee Johnson last night called for the introduction of professional referees to Scottish football, after disputing all three of Steven McLean’s big decisions in his ten-man team’s 3-1 defeat at Celtic. After red-carding Hibs forward Elie Youan early in the match, the whistler awarded a penalty to each side, with Johnson insisting each call was incorrect. Although the spot-kicks evened themselves out, he was particularly aggrieved at the decision to send off Youan, who was shown a second yellow for a high boot on Cameron CarterVickers. ‘I’m a bit of a lobbyist to give refs more money because I think the league should be employing professional referees,’ said Johnson. ‘It’s a big European league. It’s important, there’s a lot of money at stake, European places at stake — there could be five clubs in Europe next season. ‘You’ve got to have the standard to match and that means full-time referees and working day in, day out with each other, doing your analysis on teams and players. ‘It’s (about) working better as a team, communicating better in the technical areas or on the microphones to each other.’ Beaten 6-1 on their last visit to Celtic Park, Hibs were a different animal in yesterday’s match, competitive from the start and compact and organised even after going down to 10 men in the 24th minute. Proud as he was of his players, most of Johnson’s post-match analysis focused on McLean. He continued: ‘You have to point fingers at the referee’s performance. How on earth can it be a sending-off for Élie Youan? ‘I thought it was a foul against Élie, the centre-half pulls and pushes him — Carter-Vickers is a strong lad — and by the time Élie connects with his head, and he does, he’s about 5 ft 2in. ‘Élie has his back to goal, doesn’t know where Carter-Vickers is, and he’s been outmuscled. Maybe a foul, maybe not. It’s definitely not a yellow card and this is the problem with VAR, it has to be clear and obvious. ‘It was just a really poor performance. It bugs me. Clubs like Hibs need all teams to be on point. We were, but they weren’t. ‘It’s just disappointing because I thought we were good, nullified their threats and played as much as we could after the red card. ‘I’m not sure either penalty should have been given because if that’s the case I want to see a penalty given at almost every box entry. ‘You’d be giving 100 penalties every matchday if both of those penalties were penalties.’ Johnson was himself sanctioned by the referee after another inhabitant of the Hibs dugout launched a second ball on to the pitch as Celtic attempted to take a free-kick. He explained: ‘I was shown a yellow card because a Hibs staff member had apparently thrown another ball on to the pitch which isn’t something I advocate. ‘There’s an element of game management but that’s not it. Apparently they didn’t know who it was so the manager takes responsibility for the technical area. Whoever it was will be paying two weeks’ wages!’ After another win that keeps his team nine points clear at the top of the Premiership table, Postecoglou could afford to be less controversial. When Johnson’s views were put to him, he quipped: ‘I’m well aware of Lee’s feelings, I heard them for 95-100 minutes, so I can well imagine. ‘They were decisions. For me it’s more about the disruption it gives to the game. We had 15 minutes of extra time purely on the back of officials’ disruption. ‘That doesn’t really excite me that much but decisions are decisions, we just have to cop them whether they’re good or bad.’ Postecoglou offered no clear update on midfielder Reo Hatate, who was substituted early in the game. He said: ‘I am hoping it’s nothing too serious. He just felt a twinge so having a couple of weeks without games hopefully helps his recovery.’ While Hatate will remain under the supervision of the physios, striker Hyeon-gyu Oh will now head off to meet up with Jurgen Klinsmann’s South Korea squad. The substitute scored the crucial headed goal that edged Celtic in front and Postecoglou believes it could prove a big moment for the 21-year-old January signing from Suwon Samsung Bluewings. He added: ‘All strikers love scoring goals, particularly of that nature. But he is going to be a fantastic player for us. ‘I have introduced him slowly, he is adjusting to life, but I watch him in training every day and he is a handful. He has a real presence about him physically but also he’s got a great touch and he is just so hungry for success.’