Shiels demands 'strong referee'

PA Sport
Kenny Shiels

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Kenny Shiels

Kilmarnock manager Kenny Shiels has called for a strong referee for the visit of title-chasing Celtic after claiming decisions were "amazingly loaded" in the leaders' favour last weekend.

Shiels is likely to receive a letter from the Scottish Football Association after putting the onus on referee Alan Muir as Celtic chase the point they need to secure the Clydesdale Bank Premier League title.

The Killie boss claimed Celtic did not get a strong referee when they beat St Johnstone 2-0 on Sunday in a match that saw Saints manager Steve Lomas angered by three of official George Salmond's decisions.

Shiels commented on the referee after being asked whether Celtic would be looking for revenge for their Scottish Communities League Cup final defeat to Kilmarnock last month.

"They are coming to win a title, that's their foremost thought, but human nature takes over and they will want to get revenge, there is no question of that," he said.

"And I hope we have a strong referee because that's vitally important. They didn't have one last Sunday and it favoured Celtic considerably. So hopefully we have a strong referee."

Salmond turned down a strong penalty claim when Glenn Loovens challenged Francisco Sandaza and Celtic were on the right end of contentious decisions in the lead-up to both goals.

Georgios Samaras won a soft free-kick before heading the opening goal and Kris Commons appeared to foul Liam Craig before launching the counter-attack that led to the second.

Celtic fans will occupy three of the Rugby Park stands as they seek a title party, and Shiels claims there is a danger a weak referee could be affected by the pressure. "It's according to the mental strength of the referee," the Northern Irishman said.

The SFA have a rule which forbids managers passing comment on referees before games and compliance officer Vincent Lunny last week wrote to Celtic manager Neil Lennon asking him to explain remarks he made ahead of St Johnstone's visit.

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