Officials lack the support of the SFA claims retired referee

Clark believes referees are being put under greater pressure as fans latch on to the criticism.

Clark spoke out after his compulsory retirement from the game - last season was his final campaign as he turns 47 in November.

He told BBC Scotland: "Referees are blamed but managers are loathe to criticise their players.

"I think we either need to consider taking a harder line or realise that they're simply not controlling it and paying lip service to it.

"In my opinion, the SFA in recent years has gone soft on coaches - particularly on comments during post-match conferences.

"It used to be managers and coaches were far more careful about what they said, now it seems to be open season.

"They throw up a smokescreen blaming the referee and then fans start having a go at the referee as well."