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How to alienate the men in black

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Jim Spence | 17:35 UK time, Friday, 26 February 2010

Although it was good work by my colleague Chris McLaughlin to break the story that Celtic were compiling a dossier on refereeing decisions against them for the Scottish Football Association, it seems like a neat bit of opportunism on the part of the Glasgow club.

The timing of the move ahead of the Old Firm game will heap extra pressure on Dougie McDonald, who will be under even more scrutiny now.

Given Celtic's faltering position behind Rangers in the title race, defeat will surely end their hopes on Sunday.

So the stakes are high and someone at Parkhead may have taken the calculated view that this issue needed raised so urgently that the week of the Old Firm fixture was the most prescient time to bring it up.

Fair enough, the game is big business and those pining for the days of a more Corinthian spirit are spitting into the wind.

Did Celtic take a calculated gamble that their leaked approach to the SFA would benefit them somehow? Draw your own conclusions dear reader.

celticref595.jpgI don't buy into the view that the move might cause off-field trouble. Those who are inclined to indulge in that kind of grief need no further encouragement.

But it will cause friction between the men in black and Celtic.

Walter Smith made some suggestion last season that Rangers were getting a tough time of it from refs, and many argue that he did not attract the kind of flak which Celtic have suffered.

Other managers have also blasted the men in the middle at some stage other.

What does that tell us?

Simply that all football clubs want to win, don't like decisions going against them, and will use whatever tactic is needed to give them an advantage.

What might work better for Celtic and indeed any club worried about refereeing standards would be to assemble and present evidence, video and otherwise, either at the halfway stage or at the end of the season, containing examples of poor decisions.

Along with that they could use a retired ref or expert to indicate why they felt each example was wrong.

At the same time they could present alternative solutions for better standards of refereeing.

Perhaps things like improving current fitness tests, which some claim are inadequate.

And offering to fund full-time posts to counter suggestions that part- timers find the job of keeping up with play too demanding.

They could demand instant video replay evidence for all game-changing incidents within the 18-yard box, as well perhaps as all red cards.

Maybe they could suggest an independent body to review contentious refereeing decisions.

While they are at it they could ask for a review of refs performances every six-to-eight weeks, with appropriate sanctions of downgrading if standards are not met.

And of course there are some fans in Scotland who are convinced that there is a dark hidden underbelly of Scottish life.

On their behalf maybe we should all demand full public disclosure of membership of any secret organisations by men in black, on the well-established scientific basis that just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

Then we could probably all sit back and watch while refs decide the game is not worth the candle, hand back their whistles and notebooks and head for the exit door.

Oh, alternatively, everyone with any real breadth of vision for the game could get round a table, thrash things out, accept that everyone can't be right all of the time and start acting like grown-ups.


  • Comment number 1.

    Jim, you state "What might work better for Celtic..." but in fact, isn't that what they are doing? They're compiling a dossier (which in this day and age presumably contains photographic and video evidence, not just writings) to present to the SFA?
    The only difference is the leaking it to the press bit...

  • Comment number 2.

    Good to see Celtic taking a leaf out of Everton's book in preparing for a big game.

  • Comment number 3.

    Celtic have been the victim of some poor decisions (like plenty of other clubs), but going public is wrong. The timing makes it even worse.

    As for Dougie McDonald, he will not be under any extra pressure. Every decision he makes will be questioned and analysed, and both sets of fans will claim he favours the opposition - the same as every other Old Firm game.

  • Comment number 4.

    Feel you are just taking it too far in your list of prescriptive measures Jim. And you probably know it!

    For televised games there really now is a strong argument to use a video ref. The technology isn't rocket science and is used in other sports, so why not football. There is also an issue about refereeing standards this season as Dallas admits, which haven't just disadvantaged Celtic but have done in the OF games. There were some very poor decisions made by the refs involved.

    I don't buy into the 'establishment-inspired' conspiracy theory (ironically both the OF have used it in poor seasons) as Celtic have been poor enough at times this season to be the architects of their own league position. And as a rule of thumb I think that big teams generally get the benefit of decisions over smaller teams. But big games are separated by such small margins that you can understand their anger at these decisions in particular.

    Think it will have little impact on the behaviour of the OF fans. But among the players on the park, it may be a different story...

  • Comment number 5.

    When a child puts on his football kit and his footie boots and tucks his shinpads into his socks it is one of the greatest moments of his childhood and he does so because a man in black will referee his game in all weathers, take all the abuse and do it all for free on his sunday off work. Some of these great men in black go on to Referee at a more professional level, unbiased honest men that love the game and receive derisory financial rewards for their years of integrity and for the ability for a great many to enjoy their saturday afternoons with the most profound relish and sheer magnificient joy. They are only human and have to discern the truth amongst twenty two cheats whilst also being lent on at half time.
    The way these great men are treated is abhorrent and disgusting.

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    Linesmen to lose their flags so they can run properly. The linesmen to wear flourescent sleeves instead. (They are miked up.)
    Introduce "VIDEO APPEALS"
    TWO appeals per team per game.

    The manager is not allowed to make a "VIDEO APPEAL" whilst the ball is in his own half. He can only make a "VIDEO APPEAL" in his own half if the ball is DEAD.
    LINESMEN would be more PRO-ACTIVE. They would be forced to become more PRO-ACTIVE because they would be very "embarrassed to be exposed for bad decision making" by a video appeal. This would up their game, they would make more decisions and better ones, they would be forced to step up to the plate in a less passive way than that which currently exisits. They would encroach onto the pitch for Penalties.

    The "managers" of each team could use their "VIDEO APPEAL" at their own descretion, usually for the big decisions, a goal or penalty appeal. Two appeals would take no more than one minute maybe two. THIS WOULD LEAD TO A CULTURE WHEREBY PLAYERS DON'T CHEAT BECAUSE THEY WOULD BE VERY ASHAMED AND EMBARRASSED IF CAUGHT CHEATING AND THE REF COULD TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION.
    Linesmen would become "assistant REFS" in the true sense of the word.

    The Platini experiment with the "assistants" behind the goal will not work because potentially the REF will have three assistants shouting down his earpiece at the same time and how will he "play the advantage rule"
    Spectators will have maybe two officials in their line of sight, a nightmare.
    The two assistants behind the goal doesn't answer the most important dilema in football, the "offside law".
    The mentality of players will change, the cheat culture will change ?

  • Comment number 8.

    Why would the comments from the Celtic source create tension with referees if they are fair and unbiased.

    Equally, why does it heap pressure on Dougie McDonald?

    Why shouldn't his decisions be scrutinised?

    I am a Celtic fan and take an accute interest in the incorrect decisions that disadvantage my team. I could list off several from this season that have definitley or potentially cost Celtic points.

    I could list incorrect decisions that have definitley or potentially benefitted Rangers in terms of points gained.

    If the commonly held media view is true and these things really do even themselves out over the season, why has no media outlet, no journalist, listed the incorrect decisions for each Club and prove that we Celtic fans and now indeed the senior people at the Club really are deluded?

    The whole 'collective paranoia' accusation which is lazily trotted out by Scottish hacks is sad and insulting. The same accusation was levelled at Fergus McCann when he challenged Farry over the Cadete affair and we know how that finished. And when was this 'evened out'? When were Rangers similarly treated, similarly disadvantaged, by the SFA?

    Bias, perhaps subconcious bias, by officials is almost impossible to prove but that does not mean it doesn't exist.

    Good on Peter Lawell, good on 'The Source'. It's not a second too soon.

  • Comment number 9.

    Jim, I think the real issue is not Celtic complaining about the refs, but the general poor standards of refs in Scotland. But I agree with "goonergetit", who would really want to become a ref!!

    I know that they are only human, but most people I know, who have done a job for a number of years will have to admit that technology has changed the way they do their job. Did you imagine all those years ago when you started your career that you would be writting interactive articles via an electronic media?

    The game of football has changed and players fittness and speed have changed, yet we still have part-time refs! There is no surprise that all clubs complain at sometime about decisions, and the like. So yes we need full-time refs, and yes we need more technology to help them do their jobs better. So when everybody is happy putting Scottish football down, why does Scottish football not do something innovative, and introduce video replay and/or goal line technology, even why not an offside detection device?

    Oh yes because we are talking about the SFA, are there lies the second issue to the story. Celtic were fully aware that sending any sort of "evidency" of poor refereeing to the SFA would be pointless.

    My final point before I go, is that this is not a new problem it has existed for years. Is it getting worse, no I do not think so, I give you Les Mottram!

  • Comment number 10.

    Unless some independent source can compile such a dossier on every club, the Celtic argument is meaningless. If the hoops can show with good evidence 50 decisions that have gone against them, who is to say Aberdeen or St Mirren or whoever have not suffered 100 equally bad calls over the same time period? Funny how losing teams are quick to blame officials rather than look at their own mistakes.

  • Comment number 11.

    why not video evidence , why are the referees and the sfa so backwards about moving the game of football forward.
    tennis , rugby , cricket , ice hockey and american football to name but a few all use it , so why not football .
    the longer the powers that be resisit 'vidoe' the stranger the decision looks , how long before someone takes legal action over a result because he or she has lost a bet .
    i played the game and i've been to a few games in my time and i really wonder what goes through the official's head when he makes a decision .
    someone please move our game forward , it's stuck in the mud , in more ways than one .

  • Comment number 12.

    Or you could create a Hippocratic Oath for refs.

    I swear by Apollo the sports God and Pele and Ronaldo and Ronaldinho all debatable football gods, and the fans, making them my witnesses, that I will fulfill according to my ability and judgment this oath and this covenant…

    I will apply fair and impartial measures for the benefit of the game according to my ability and judgment; I will keep games from turning into comical farces during my watch, despite what occurs afterwards in the media. If you don’t like it, too bad, I shall sleep at night the same as I always do and you can keep debating all you like. When the rules change let me know.

  • Comment number 13.

    So many things to say about this thread.

    First, why is the SFA or Scottish football backwards? I don't see any other Association "doing" something about it.

    Second, video replay, sure it works in other sports, but in a very limited way. Most of the very contentious events would NOT be discussed in other sports. Ice Hockey uses it for goals that is it, not whether it was a penalty or not, American football uses it for very limited situations (was the foot in or not), when a team scores a touchdown the opposing coach doesn't ask for a video revue because of a lineman holding, why? Because it is NOT reviewable. Tennis, is the ball in or out. All of these uses are black and white, yes or no, NOT subjective decisions. I'm a Celtic supporter and most of the events that we complain about are not yes or no but a matter of opinion. If we had video replay for Fortune's "goal" it wouldn't resolve anything because in the refs "opinion' (and probably 99% of other refs) it was a foul. Fine I can accept that offside might be improved with it but I've seen contentious offsides half a dozen times and am still not convinced either way, so please don't view video as some sort of cure-all.

    One of footballs most appealing things is the fact that it so simple and would solve very few problems.

  • Comment number 14.

    Come on now Jim, questions have to be asked about the men in black, and their bosses.

    The Swanson sending off versus St Johnstone, and the answer from Dallas claiming this to be a new interpretation shows the beaks will never admit they make clear mistakes.

    Players have been making challenges like Swanson's all season, and not one has seen red.

    The SFA is a farce, and Celtic are one of the biggest beneficiaries of similar poor decisions - the non-ugly sisters teams rarely get decisions going for them - especially in Glasgow.

  • Comment number 15.

    I think the SFA are receiving some unjust criticism here. Gordon Smith has actively promoted the use of instant video use during games; it is FIFA who don't want to move with the times and regularly knock it back. I agree that it would not resolve every situation, but we really have to embrace the use of anything that assists refs to make the correct decisions when possible. Perhaps if it was looked upon as an aid to good decision making rather than a stick with which to beat referees the game would benefit. As to full time refs, I don't really see that necessarily helping. The Premiership has them, yet every week there are at least as many contentious decisions as in the SPL. And look at some of the officials' decisions in the midweek Champions League matches.

  • Comment number 16.

    First of all I'd like to say that I don't watch much Scottish football (the occasional derby game) and so I am unable to comment directly on Scottish refereeing standards.

    Celtic releasing their concerns regards officiating standards should not affect the referee whatsoever as he is a professional who should be immune to outside influences when performing his job.

    Saying that, for professionals I feel that a lot of referees do not have the level of fitness to keep up with the modern day footballer and should in some way be accountable for their decisions (it seems inherently wrong that a player cannot appeal a yellow card)

    Referees are going to make mistakes that will affect the outcome of football games, they are only human and no football player (professional or otherwise) is perfect; however, video technology does not seem appropriate at the minute, football is a fast paced, flowing game and technology cannot currently keep up with instant decisions which need to be made in a split second (most of which are subjective)

    Who would want to be a referee? I play at an amateur level and am a qualified referee but do not have any inclination to officiate matches as I know how difficult a job it is!

  • Comment number 17.

    number 13
    still plays football
    your are right in some ways , video wouldn't hold all the answers but it would give the referee added support during a game ,anything that helps them make a correct decision has got to be better than a wrong one and then ref's wouldn't be ridiculed in the press and media after the game , or maybe that's part of the sport now to.
    what it could clear up is offside goals just for starters , violent conduct for another , spitting at fellow pro's and more .
    what i will say is that it would cost to set that all up , camera's at all the games , no special treatment just for the old firm , it would have to rolled across the whole spl , so maybe the failure to implement video evidence just comes down to cost , then maybe ref's wouldn't all need to fly off to spain , maybe the money wouldn't come into it now i think about it ,
    one last point literally, the motherwell goal , ruled out for offside a few weeks ago , could be a pricless to point for rangers , kyle lafferty vs aberdeen last season , i cringe when i see that replay , what an impact that had on the game , are you saying thats an acceptable part of the game , the ref was cheated that day and football was left with a sour taste that day , thats the part of football that has to be cleaned up , players might think twice about cheating if they think they'll be caught , andy davies penalty award for rangers against hearts a few seasons ago , now i'm the the brightest guy and all those incidents would have been cleared up by video replay ,and it would have put a stop to the media frenzy that followed .
    i do agree with you that it wouldn't sort everything, i have watched video evidence work in rugby and be inconclusive , nothings perfect , but it's got to be at least a step in the right direction ..
    here's one for you , world cup final , france v italy ,watched by millions live . zidane's sending off ,everybody witnessed the red mist that desended day, the story goes that the ref and his assistants missed the head butt and it was the fourth official that relayed the actions of zidane to the whistler , after it was replayed on monitor .
    should zidane have gone , was a president set in that game for video evidence .

  • Comment number 18.

    Number 13

    You are perfectly right with your comments on American football, except I think you have over simplified the situation.

    1. No-one, I do not think is encouraging the idea that team managers should have the right to request video evidence, as is the case in American football. In fact it is called a "Coach's challenge". You are right it cannot be used for penalities, but this is because they could have upwards from 20 penatlies per game, so not really the same scale as football.
    2. Video replay is used, either after a "Coach's challenge" or if the officials themselves start to doubt the decision on the field.
    3. It can only change the decision on the field if they see undisputable evidence.
    4. At the end of the day there will still be decisions that are debatable, the only improvement is that these should be less per game and per season.

    However I disagree with you that football is subjective, the rules are as clear and precise as in any sport. What is subjetive is the refs interupation of those rules. Therefore why not give them every opportunity to be more consistant and to get most decision right.

    Finally Ally9 post 17, is perfectly correct under the current laws of football Zidane should not have been sent off. The fourth offical is not permitted to watch video replay. But what would have happened if they had not sent him off and he scored the winner or the winning penalty? Would you just consider this to be part of the beautiful game?

  • Comment number 19.

    I seem to remember a rugby world cup final being held up for what seemed at eternity whilst the video referee tried to decide whether or not a foot was in touch before a try was scored...and still didn't get it right. Also a cricket video referee giving the South African skipper not out last summer to so loud a snick that it could almost be heard in Johannesburg.
    Video appeals in football ? what just after a team takes a quick free kick for offside and swings a ball down towards the opposition goal ..don't make me laugh.
    A pal of Jim Spence's had the best attitude to this. If you lose don't blame the referee, stop moaning, accept the decisions, that pal is Jim McLean who had not a bad record in club management. Brian Clough had much the same approach.

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment posted on the Phil Minshull BBC blog Feb 16 at 10:23 pm by "goonergetit" just 16 days ago.

    "Yellow cards, it shows what a yellow card is worth, it's hopeless and worthless, how long before we get another Eduardo Horror Tackle ?"

  • Comment number 21.

    Increase the ban for an accumulation of yellow cards. Stop the professional foul. A yellow card is worthless. When a player makes a tackle he makes many decisions, "am I going to beat the other player to the ball?" " "should I make the tackle?" "is it safe to make the tackle?" "will I injure myself?" "who can I play the ball to?" "is it better not to tackle and take up another position?" "will I hurt the other player?" "if he beats me to the ball I should try to move my foot out of the way?" "what if I hurt the other player and get a yellow, what are the consequences?" "if I stop a goal and take a yellow, is it worth it?" All these questions are built into the decision making process of football players, they are inbuilt into their pschye, their sub conciousness. If we make the punishments more severe we will avoid more legs being broken because it's going to happen with much greater regularity if we don't increase the ban for yellow card accumulation and red cards. It's been a long time coming.

  • Comment number 22.

    Life can be unfair, too. Does this mean that we should stop trying to correct wrongs? What a poor, poor column.

  • Comment number 23.

    What's that I hear? Oh yes it is the sound of galloping paranoia coming from the East End of Glasgow. Stop being paranoid, don't think everyone hates you. Be realists like your opponents from the other side of the city and know that everyone hates you.

    SFA, the Church of Scotland, the banks, the masons, the Orange Lodge, the press. Who is next on your list of conspirators?

    Face it you have a duff team managed by a duff manager and you are being walked over by a team who have not signed a new player for two years. The current lot are not fit to wear the same jersey as was worn by the likes of McNeill, McGrain and Dalglish.

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 25.

    Niall G - Don't lose the plot.

    You should try very hard and not confuse 'conspiracy' and a 'complaint' process. Perhaps I'm misinformed but Celtic are not actually to my knowledge alledging any 'conspiracy'. Most Celtic fans I speak to actually do know the real reason for their team's deteriorating performances this season: a manager increasingly struggling in his own self-inflicted mess.

    But I think Celtic had a perfect right to complain about some glaringly incompetent refereeing performances. That same right that WSmith had when he ranted about a linesman called 'Murphy' last year, MMcGhee questioning six consecutive sending off's. Probably every single SPL team has moaned about the refs this season and last, and the one before, etc. I'm struggling to understand what your problem is when Celtic do it?

  • Comment number 26.

    I think you and Chris McLaughlin along with the rest of your colleagues on Sportsound are the real guilty parties responsible for creating this uproar regarding Celtic and Referees. Peter Lawell simply confirmed to a BBC reporter that Celtic had contacted the SFA some months ago about some dubious refereeing decisions his club had suffered from and you lot reported it as if they had only just done it now before the game with Rangers so as to put added pressure on the referee.

    I think yourself, Jim Traynor Chick Young Jim Gordon and others who work for the BBC or/and write for the Daily Record the Sun etc.. do more to fuel the conspiracy theories than anyone else. So please, in future just report the facts.

  • Comment number 27.

    Video replays should be used wherever there is any doubt about a major decision.

    On every goal the ref should review the previous 20 seconds or so at full speed just to make sure he didnt miss anything. Same thing should happen with potential red card and penalty situations. The fact that these decisions are opinionon based makes no difference, its stil the refs opinion, it's just giving him the chance to have another or a better view of the incident.

  • Comment number 28.

    Well, after yesterday's game I now think you guys (and Celtic of course) are right about referees against them. Bougherra or watsisname was chomping on everything that had green socks on and what does he get, a measly yellow. I mean, comeon!!!

  • Comment number 29.

    Huh?!?! I have been a member and a contributor for like 2 or so years now, and my post gets modified? WHY?

  • Comment number 30.


    I'm a celtic fan, and i have never entertained the level of paranoia that some of my fellow fans pander to.

    But something is amiss this year, its getting a little farcical now.

    - 2 penalties not given at ibrox
    - 1 gola not given at celtic park
    - Kyle lafferty not being sent off for the tackle on hinkel
    - 1 goal not given for motherwell (inexplicably)
    - Scott Brown sent off yesterday, with no punishment for Laffert
    - Bougherra not being punished after his yellow card despite committing the same foul another 5 times

    The list goes on. I dont think any rational human being could look at the list of incidents above and say "They iron themselves out over the season", the simple fact is, against Rangers, they dont.

    Could it be anything to do with Rangers' need to secure the champions league honey pot or face going out of business..........seems logical and believeable to me.


  • Comment number 31.

    The difference between Celtics complaints about refeering and equivelant protests of other fans is that no other club is claiming that there is an exclusive establishment conspiracy against them.

    Certainly many non-OF fans have always claimed that the OF get the decisions against them, but your average Killie or Accies supporter have never claimed that bad decisions are exclusive to Kilmarnock or Hamilton, they allege that they (Non OF) are all getting it in the neck in equal measure whenever they play either of Scotlands Big Two.

    This is just a logical consequence of being a football fan, we tend to see only one team whenever it comes to dubious decisions.We are not in the business of backing up any other tribe but our own.

    But most of us non-Celtic fans know where to draw the line, and the boundaries for most decent fans lie firmly on the side of reasonable debate and any inane chatter about establishment conspiracies and suchlike have invariably been the exlusive domain of Celtic Football Club.

    It is perhaps no co-incidence that recent physical attacks on scottish referees on and off the pitch have always come from players and supporters of the same club that is encouraging the kind of paranoia that the rest of us reject in favour of more reasoned arguement despite our personal prejudices always leaning towards favouring our own teams.

  • Comment number 32.

    Wizardowaz - Well done on the spelling but I kind of missed the part where you were being 'reasonable'.

    Best to start with some basics:

    Most Celtic fans 'know where to draw the line..'. Like non-celtic fans they too engage in 'reasonable debate' with the odd dash of 'innane chatter' thrown in for some variety. Strangely, you know, you can explain why 'conspiracy theories' exisit in Scotland and what the link to Celtic might be. I would take a trip to the bookshop, or even better your local library. But well done of spotting that one to start off with.

    Moving on..

    I liked the way you tried to link 'conspriacy' inducing 'paranoia' (CIP)and the surging crime wave of physical assaults on referees. I was wondering earlier this very evening who was behind these vicious attacks. I'd contact your local police station because you sound as if you might have important information on these crimes. The Police will listen to 'reasonable debate'. See in the very unlikely event that they can't find any evidence for the claims you make above, don't give up. Its not paranoia on your part. Listen to your voices inside your head that have driven you on this far. Consult your local medical services, they will sympathise with whatever you say

  • Comment number 33.

    Wizardofwaz - would be grateful if you could point me in the direction of any statement from Celtic F.C. that has suggested that there is an 'exclusive establishment conspiracy against them.'

    Even the 'leaked' story from the BBC makes no reference to any conspiracy?

    Celtic have made a legitimate complaint about the standard of refereeing in some of their games this season. This complaint has been vindicated by Dougie McDonald's performance during Sunday's game.

    The Brown incident aside, McDonald's failure to punish Bougherra with a second yellow card for the several fouls he conceded showed a level of ineptitude that should not be tolerated in our premier league!

  • Comment number 34.

    Jim - glad to see you dont share the same hysterical reaction to this as a colleague of yours at the BBC who tells us in the lead up to almost every Old Firm game that Glasgow's A&E departments are placed on some kind of battle-ready alert when a story like this appears!

  • Comment number 35.

    All relative. Celtic (and Rangers) get preferential treatment when playing the other 10 non-bigoted teams in the SPL. When they don't get handed advantage after advantage they feel hard done by.

    Try supporting a provincial team (for 90% of you it would be your local team, the one you would support if you weren't a glory hunter) and you'd soon learn how lucky celtic are in the decisions stakes, and the occasional mistake is a lot better than us lot going to ibrox or parkhead and playing 11 v 12.

    And imho this whole "source" affair is a pathetic, pre-pubescent attempt to gain the same unfair advantage you have over the rest of the clubs over rangers.


  • Comment number 36.

    "WizardofWaz" and "sharpski...", both absolutely spot-on.

    Time and time again, decisions go with the Old Firm and against non-OF teams. Brown's sending off is at least starts to repay some of the outstanding balance of decisions that have gone Celtic's way. Just a shame that it favoured the other ugly sister.

  • Comment number 37.

    What a weird arguement some fans of provincial teams make: the OF get most of the decisions so instead of making a point about getting parity, or improving standards, you think Celtic shouldn't complain and then get all moral about it. Try and be less bitter..

  • Comment number 38.

    For me, the situation is as bizarre as it is irresponsible. Unfortunately the referees are quite simply not up to the job. They are not fit enough, not nearly trained well enough, and neither the refereeing body nor the dinosaur that is the SFA have the guts to try and change it. Despite what is said about the use of technology 'slowing down the game' or not being able to identify those interpretation decisions, the fact remains that the appropriate use of existing technology would reduce the number of contentious decisions, especially the offside/penalty/ball over the line type decisions, and lets face it they are the decisions that matter.
    Dallas has in the past stated that he is not in favour of the use of video technology because it takes away from the authority of the referee, really! As far as I can see they dont have any now! Every obvious error they make reduces their mandate and the respect that clubs and fans have for referees. Anything that could improve the situation needs to be used, the two men behind the goals situation is rubbish, and a last ditch attempt by misguided individuals to try and slow progress, and it will make them look stupid in the long run.
    I guarantee you that in a few years it will be the norm to be using video evidence and goal line technology, and like the smoking issue we'll all be wondering what the fuss was. Only problem is getting rid of the suits at the top, who block it, here's to the a change of management, only solution really!

  • Comment number 39.

    Celtic leaked unhappieness at alleged Ref bias and now complain because Ref followed the rules and sent Brown off. Aye it was soft but the presure was on and from whom?

  • Comment number 40.

    Is it me or do the comments coming out of parkhead appear to be less dignified since Reid took a major position at this club

  • Comment number 41.

    The author wrote, "we should all demand full public disclosure of membership of any secret organisations by men in black". I think violating the match officials human rights is not a good way to change the basis on how they make decisions during the game. I think it would be more appropriate for people spouting this guff, on a public funded website, to reveal the organisations they belong to before demanding this disclosure from others.

  • Comment number 42.

    38. Mick

    Slagging off referees is becoming ridiculous. You assert they are not fit enough, or "trained" enough without offering a shred of evidence to support it.

    they do a thankless job very well most of the time. Yes they are human and yes they make mistakes.

    Lets look at last weeks game. Celtic contend that the decisions affected the outcome of the game. I beleive there were two decisions that could have affecteds the result. Firstly the sending off of Scott Brown. Now was it Dougie Macdonald that created the tussle? No. Do the rules clearly state that you should not attempt to strike an opponent? Yes. Who is responsible for the situation? Scott Brown. He is a highly paid professional footballer that should know better. He is also supposed to be captain of Celtic, a position that used to be one given only to those who commanded respect.

    The second was to deny Rangers what looked a clear penalty. Both marginal decisions. Both could be argued either way. One went for Celtic, one against.

    But bith were very marginal. Was it the referees fault that Celtic didn't manage a shot on target throughout the second half? Was it the referees fault that they couldn't defend the play that resulted in the Rangers goal? To put it simply they are trying to hide the inadequacies that have been present all season for everyone to see behind a pathetic attempt to smear the honest efforts of referees.

    No mention about referees when they were winning.

    I hope the full force of the SFA is brought to bear on this matter. The leak was a cowardly pathetic attempt to pile more pressure on the referee to prop up a poor team and a poor manager.

    Mr Lawells previous remarks on "sporting Integrity" now look very hollow indeed

  • Comment number 43.

    Well I can think of more than just two points in last week's OF game in addition to the above that affected the outcome of the game: the decision to let Broughera's persistent fouling go unpunished after he was yellow carded go unpunished and Kamara's penanty claim.

    I think you have to say poor refereeing matters more in OF games because the margins are so tight. In the first 2 games this season you could think of the failure to award Celtic a stonewall penalty (Game 1), the wrongly chalked off Fortune goal and the failure to send Lafferty off for the studs-up challenge on Hinkel (Game 2). IMO the latter was far worse than anything Brown did last Sunday.

    What exactly do you think the SFA can do apart from a great big nothing? Its not a crime to complain about refereeing performance when Dallas has already said that performances have been poor. Neither is a 'leaked' complaint a breach of any rule. Neither is it a breach of the rules to say that you don't agree with the decision to throw out Brown's appeal.

    Its worth remembering that the last time Celtic took on the SFA they won and Farry had to resign because he was found to be less than honest in his dealings over the Cadette transfer.

  • Comment number 44.

    We can't win (I know we literally can't win, but...). A consistent run of bad decisions go against us in all three Old Firm games so far this season, probably meaning that we end up with one point rather than five or seven, while Rangers end up with seven rather than probably one or two (a swing of anywhere between nine and 12 points).

    We complain about it, and we're instantly paranoid conspiracy theorists and accused of blaming organisations that we've never mentioned.

    Any other club complains, it's fair enough. As it should be. But it should be for us too.

    Someone said it wasn't the ref that caused the Brown incident. No, it was Lafferty when he pushed both hands into Brown's face with considerably more force than Brown's head touching big "I can go in on defenders two-footed but don't breathe on my chest or I'll collapse" Kyle.

    Someone says was the ref responsible for Celtic not having a shot on target in the second half? Not before Brown's sending off certainly, but maybe after. And he says was the ref responsible for Celtic's failure to defend Rangers' goal? Yeah, maybe. We'll never know.

    But, yeah, maybe we would still have lost. But how Brown's sending off was upheld at appeal is farcical. There is absolutely no momentum pushing his head into Lafferty. Brown barely moves. Never mind no proof of intent, there's no proof of anything actually happening. Lafferty pushing Brown in the face, on the other hand...

    Can we appeal to UEFA?

  • Comment number 45.

    43. Rob04

    If you try to look at the game through honest eyes, yes Bougherra could have been sent off, so to could N'Gwemo for his tackle on Boyd, there are many others. They also happen in every game of Football.

    It is in no-ones interest for this madness to persist, it undermines the referees. They won't improve because they are slagged off.

    I would argue that over a season the decisions pretty much even themselves out. I also would argue standards are no worse than they were in Previous years.

    I also note today that Celtic are complaining about Falkirk's pitch. Looks more and more desperate, they are happy to blame anyone else apart from themselves for their predicament.

    Referees are essential, you can't enjoy football without them.

    Celtic would be better putting their own house in order and concentrating on improving their performances rather than this very unseemly display of petulance.

  • Comment number 46.

    Maybe Jim's right. Maybe we have alienated the men in black. Maybe this is what happens when you dare to ask why all these decisions are going against you.

  • Comment number 47.

    44. markrp

    Honestly this is pathetic. What about the glaringly bad decisions in Celtic's favour? Waken up

    It is Tony Mowbray's fault you have a poor team, no-body else is to blame. That should be your focus. He sold good players that would have known how to win on Sunday. He bought ones that didn't have a clue.

    He did the same at West Brom, relegated with the lowest points total ever.

  • Comment number 48.

    Oh Dear-seems this blog is used for those with a disposition with paranoia-listen I could count the amount of decision the team i follow, St.Mirren have had against them in recent seasons, when playing Celtic-the phantom free-kick given that Nakamura scored-in fact Naka got the free-kick after Mason clearly won the ball-John Potter being red-carded for a a foul on the opeing day of last season-not even a pen never mind a red card-and who can forget the assault on Dargo by Boruc in the scottish sup game that only merited a yellow card? Had Chris Smith done the same to a Celtic forward he would have seen red.

    So in short those OF fans who moan against the refs when he gets a decision wrong have nothing to complain about in comparision to St.Mirren, St.Johnstone, Motherwell, Hamilton, Hearts, Hibs, Aberdeen, Falkirk, Kilmarnock and Dundee United fans, who have been robbed by the refs when playing the OF at home or away, week in week out, year in, year out.

  • Comment number 49.

    It is in no-ones interest for this madness to persist, it undermines the referees. They won't improve because they are slagged off.

    I would argue that over a season the decisions pretty much even themselves out. I also would argue standards are no worse than they were in Previous years.

    As much as anyone else here I do try and look at games through 'honest eyes'!

    Slagging off the refs is exactly how systems improve. Systems never improve if people just accept what they get.

    Scottish refs really have got to up their game. I've watched countless situations this season where refs cannot even tell the difference between a foul and a tackle and too many of them have probably never played football at any level beyond a boys team and bounce games with their pals. If you want to better performance and get closer parity on the field they should make better use of technology to support that.

    Standards may not be worse compared to previous years but I'm not sure that is saying much. Tney should be better when you think of it.

  • Comment number 50.

    Celtic fans were keen to tell St Mirren fans these things balance themselves out over the course of the season and to stop moaning about Celtic being awarded last minute free kicks, or Boruc not being sent off, or Haining being sent off and dodgy penalties being awarded in successive league games. Celtic fans were fond of saying such decisions were final and hadn't affected the outcome of the match and it was time to grow up and stop complaining. The suggestion that Celtic come out as victims in the SPL due to refeering decisons is laughable. The list of wrong decisions at Celtic games as printed in the press has failed to mention Celtic awarded offside goal in their favour at St Mirren Park this season.

  • Comment number 51.

    Also hoping the complaints about the Falkirk pitch backfire and moaning about it fires up Falkirk up to take points off them tomorrow... you'd think they'd learn by now to keep their mouths shout.

  • Comment number 52.

    So the default position is that anyone apart from Celtic fans can complain about specific decisions that have gone against them and almost certainly affected the results of close games?

    And does anyone who says we're hypocrites or paranoid think Brown got a fair appeal?

  • Comment number 53.

    Is it just coincidence that when Mr Dallas becomes head of refereeing that honest mistake start to appear always in favor of his team.only in Scotland could this happen ask yourself this has tom Murphy the linesman that Walter "no surname" complained about been seen again.running the line in a rangers game, if not why not.Now half the managers in Scottish spl have complained about decision given when playing rangers makes you wonder who is paranoid. Far to many rangers men in the sfa/spl


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