A FORMER REFEREE has described the campaign to force Moray MP Douglas Ross to quit his World Cup dreams as ‘a bit over the top’.
In an address to constituents Douglas Ross yesterday revealed that he would no longer officiate at international or domestic games when the parliament at Westminster was open.
That meant an end to his life-long dream of representing Scotland at the World Cup Finals next year. Mr Ross was pilloried in what was a concerted campaign following his decision to officiate at a recent game in Barcelona on the day that Labour had placed a motion in Parliament on Universal Credit.
While Mr Ross had cleared his absence with his own party and entered into a ‘pairing’ arrangement with an opposition MP, the outcry was such that he decided not to pursue a place at the finals.
Now Peterhead Football Club general manager and former referee Martin Johnston has entered the debate over the issue, saying: “At the end of the day it’s a bit over the top. Had this guy been representing his country at the Commonwealth or Olympic games with the chance of bringing home a gold medal – would the attitude have been the same?”
Mr Johnston added that he believed there was a “certain brand of people” who have seen the situation as a political opportunity to “get one over” on the Conservative MP.
He said: “When you think of the calibre of players in the UK who have represented their country but never had the opportunity to participate in the World Cup, for a linesman to reach that level is great. He would have been representing Scotland, Moray – the people of Elgin. I feel it is a wee bit short-sighted – he has really been forced into a corner and I think it unjustified.”
However, an SNP politician would not let the matter go and appeared to wish even greater sacrifices from Mr Ross, despite several members of his own party holding second – and some even more – jobs away from their parliamentary duties.
Stewart Stevenson MSP (pic above), whose constituency includes part of Moray, said: “This is an overdue but welcome first step – but it is still not good enough from Douglas Ross. He continues to flout his pre-election pledge that his refereeing would not impact on his parliamentary duties.
“He seems to be forgetting that his parliamentary duties don’t end when he leaves Westminster. He may be hoping for sympathy that he does not get a trip to the World Cup next year – but that step alone is not good enough, and he is mistaken if he thinks this puts the issue to bed.”