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Football: PARMA RAMMY; EXCLUSIVE ANOTHER RECORD SPORT Referees' fury at Celtic over big-match fee.

Byline: By David McCarthy

REFEREE chiefs almost pulled the plug on Celtic's glamour friendly with Parma tomorrow in a row over match fees.

The Scottish Senior Referees Association claim the Parkhead club reneged on a "gentleman's agreement" to pay match officials the same fees for top friendly matches as they receive for SPL games.

Celtic have told the association that match ref for the Parma game, Iain Brines, his assistants Martin Cryans and Willie Dishington, and fourth official AlanMuir will receive only 50 percent of the SPL fees.

Referees are paid pounds 550 for an SPL match while linesmen receive pounds 250.

But an SFA agreement exists whereby clubs can fork out only 50 per cent for friendlies and Celtic claim they are merely following this lead.

A leading referee revealed that the row erupted this week when Rangers, Dundee United and Hibs all paid the full SPL fee to the officials involved in their high-profile friendlies with Ajax, Barcelona and Bolton. Celtic refused to follow suit and furious referees considered refusing to handle the game in protest - but have decided the match will go ahead.

A senior ref told Record Sport: "To say we are furious about this is an understatement. There is a gentleman's agreement that in the big glamour friendlies, which attract huge crowds and generate income for the clubs, we should receive the SPL going rate.

"Rangers paid it for their game against Ajax and will do so for the Chelsea game this weekend.

Hearts and Dundee United will pay it for the Barcelona games and Hibs paid full whack for the Bolton game. We don't expect parttime clubs to do it and it is not about money - it's about the principle of Celtic not following what is essentially a gentleman's agreement.

"The players get their wages for these games. The police and stewards get full pay, so why shouldn't we when the clubs are making money from gate receipts and TV revenue?

"We are not calling the game off but there were discussions about doing so."

A Celtic spokesman said: "There is not a big issue here. We will pay the appropriate fee under the SFA's rules."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 28, 2007
Words:362
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