Hugh Dallas cranks up row with Jim Gannon after 'vilification of Scots referees'
Former Fifa referee Dallas, now the Scottish Football Association's head of referee development, issued a withering statement in which he denied Gannon's claims he had ignored correspondence from the Fir Park manager complaining about refereeing bias.
Dallas is also unhappy at Gannon's suggestion referee Craig Thomson may end up costing Celtic the title after denying them a penalty in their 2-1 Old Firm derby defeat in October.
Dallas said: "After days of intense media attention, caused by an unwelcome level of personal criticism and vilification, I feel I have no alternative but to respond in the hope that the focus can return to football.
"I am astonished by the personal attacks made by Jim Gannon, which have questioned my honesty and integrity, and wish to set the record straight on the chain of events that have created an air of tension and negativity.
"For the record, I received Mr Gannon's first letter, dated 21 September, on the 24 September and duly responded, seeking clarification on contents alleging 'bias' pertaining to one of our referees. I also invited Mr Gannon to contact me directly to discuss the matter further, enclosing my mobile number and direct line.
"The next I heard from Mr Gannon was his post-match media conference after Motherwell's Clydesdale Bank Premier League match against Dundee United, in which he accused me of not responding to his original letter.
"Having explained my position after initial media enquiries, I then received a letter, dated December 1st, two days later from Mr Gannon stating he had written to me on two separate occasions, enclosing a copy of both letters.
"On the same day, 3 December, I also received the original copy of his second correspondence. It was then traced through the Royal Mail system and that tracking evidence was sent to Mr Gannon, along with the unopened letter.
"I am also insulted by Mr Gannon's latest dispatch to the media, in which he stated, 'The question for Hugh Dallas is 'what is it that he gets paid for?'
"We are addressing other requests of concern – and there are concerns – and we continue to work hard with our referees off the field. We have a robust observer system and, even this weekend, we will host a seminar aimed at improving the evaluation of referee performance.
"The type of adverse media coverage generated by Mr Gannon – which is extremely uncommon in Scottish football – has a negative effect on the confidence of referees and is counter-productive. His dissection of refereeing decisions involving Craig Thomson, one of Uefa's elite referees, is wholly unnecessary.
"Finally, I find it staggering that Mr Gannon did not feel compelled to open two letters from the Scottish FA before conducting his latest media conference."
Gannon, who refused to speak to the press after Motherwell's defeat at Hibernian last weekend, used his press conference on Thursday ahead of today's match against Celtic, to launch a fresh attack on Dallas and refereeing standards in Scotland. "There's a question mark over the standard of refereeing in Scotland and the mistakes that are being made are having an effect on the league table," he said.