Charlie Nicholas has outed former referees Kenny and Dougie Hope as Rangers fans.
Kenny Hope had a long career in the game, taking charge of his first senior match in 1974, enjoying international appointments and being appointed to the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. After retiring Kenny became a referee supervisor.
In England referees have to declare the clubs that they support or have an association with, the FA then ensure that they aren’t involved in any matches that could impact those clubs.
No such ruling exists in Scotland with almost all of Celtic’s matches refereed by officials from Glasgow and Lanarkshire. Three of Celtic’s first 12 SPFL matches have been refereed by Bobby Madden of East Kilbride.
Recent decisions have thrown a spotlight on match officials with their impartiality challenged while the SFA seem slow to introduce VAR to help get more decisions right.
Nicholas played for Celtic and Aberdeen through the eighties and nineties when the Hope brothers were regulars in the top flight.
Reflecting on those issues, the Daily Record picked up on his column from the Daily Express:
We’ve had some terrible days. I remember doing the game when Hugh Dallas got hit by the coins. That was a dark, dark day for Scottish football. I have played for Celtic and against Rangers and Celtic. I have seen both sides when it comes to referees.
I remember the Hope brothers, Kenny and Dougie. We all knew they were Rangers fans but they were also pretty good referees. You could have a conversation with them and you could wind each other up.
I also remember the Celtic manager Billy McNeill had a ding-dong with Andrew Waddell. We, at Celtic, always felt he had an agenda against us after that as Billy had challenged him during a game.
No Scottish referees were selected by UEFA for the 2021 European Championship Finals despite the SFA hosting four matches at Hampden.