Shades of Duncan Ferguson, Police Scotland probe headbutt as former referee calls for lifetime ban

A former referee has called for theRangers women’s team assistant manager Craig McPherson to receive a lifetime ban from football, following last night’s SWPL1 Glasgow Derby which was shown live on Sky Sports.

McPherson assaulted Celtic head coach Fran Alonso by headbutting him from behind as the Celtic man showed far more sportsmanlike behaviour as he shook hands with opposition players and staff post-match at Broadwood Stadium, before chaos broke out following McPherson’s cowardly and criminal act.

Celtic scored a 99th minute leveller in Cumbernauld through Caitlin Hayes, and it would appear the resultant celebrations perhaps both frustrated and angered McPherson, as the red mist descended and retribution was sought.

And Steve Conroy a former top flight referee and contributor to the ‘Get Involved Referee’ podcast, as quoted by Daily Record (now suddenly taking an interest in the women’s game in Scotland) believes McPherson’s ‘thuggish behaviour” should lead to a lifetime ban from football.

Credit: Sky Sports

“It is appalling. He should be instantly removed from his post and banned for life. There is absolutely no mitigation for that. He gave it forethought and should pay the full price for it.

“It’s embarrassing that the first SWPL game to be shown live on Sky Sports is grabbing headlines for all the wrong reasons. This is simply thuggish behaviour, and the man involved should face the full consequences. We are trying to get rid of all forms of aggression and intimidation in football from grassroots upwards. This must be dealt with in the appropriate way.”

It’s hard not to agree with Conroy’s assessment of the incident as this did not appear to be an incident that occurred in the heat of the moment, there appeared no provocation, and even if there had been words exchanged between the respective coaches prior to the assault McPherson had more than enough time to gather his thoughts and act in a responsible and professional manner.

Instead, the Assistant Manager of theRangers resorted to violence and should pay a heavy price for his reaction. As Conroy states “there is absolutely no mitigation for that”.

There are now reports emerging of an SFA probe and a police investigation into the matter, and that certainly seems the right response from the relevant authorities, however theRangers as a club have yet to pass comment on the incident, with perhaps their silence being somewhat damning.

Remember too that Duncan Ferguson, the former Rangers striker was given a custodial sentence for his headbutt on a Raith Rovers player. Ferguson at least didn’t do it behind his victim’s back.

Duncan Ferguson became the first pro-footballer in Britain to be jailed after an on-field incident which happened on 16 April 1994 at Ibrox when the Rangers striker  decided to headbutt the Raith Rovers defender John McStay.

It was an incident that would landed him a three-month prison sentence for assault, becoming the first professional player in Britain to be jailed for an on-field offence and remains the only to do so.

It now looks like Craig McPherson, theRangers Women’s assistant manager could be facing a similar sort of punishment with Sky Sports confirming that Police Scotland are now investigating the incident at Broadwood last night.

Niall J

About Author

As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was the finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parkhead's gates.


  1. But…but… butt, it looks like a lifetime ban, sacking, and possibly some porridge in the big BAR L…but possibly a lesson in anatomy as well. The back of a man’s head is a pretty difficult place to attack, it would seem to me. Oh the trouble you caused with that last minute goal, Caitlin!

  2. RPM Celticfan on

    Well if the ref had given the penalty she should have had mibee there wounae have been any trouble , then again …….