Celtic, as was easily predictable, have been apportioned much of the blame for the SFA’s decision yesterday to issue a Notice Of Complaint to Josh Meekings.
It takes a real failure to comprehend what’s happened here – or a wilful decision to distort the facts – to be able to point the finger in our direction, and keep a straight face.
That some are gamely going for it anyway suggests they couldn’t wait to start battering the keyboards in an anti-Celtic screed.
In their rush to condemn Celtic for speaking out, they have missed the bigger point or they are just ignoring it.
I can understand why they’d do that.
Because below the surface, this is developing into the biggest scandal involving a match official in Scotland since Hugh Dallas got his jotters for being a bigot.
I’m going to go out on a limb here – something I don’t often do – and tell you what I think rather than what I know.
I suspect that Celtic’s request for “clarification” came about after the club’s people spoke to SFA officials after the game and were told either contradictory stories or one unbelievable one; that none of the three officials who had a line on the incident saw anything.
I think it was probably the latter.
I think Celtic may have initially been willing to accept the line that the officials were unsighted, but then scrutinised the footage more closely on TV.
The important part would not have been the exact position of all the officials, but the conduct of the one behind the goal.
The television pictures are clear enough. He saw something. He informed the referee of what he saw.
I suspect that is what motivated Celtic’s initial request.
The SFA clearly does not want to acknowledge that at least one official spotted the incident.
Now, whether he thought it was hand to ball, ball to hand, or he thought the ball touched the player’s head or whatever, if he communicated that to the referee – which he clearly did – then the ball is up on the slates and the “official explanation” falls apart.
If the incident was spotted then Meekings is being disciplined for nothing because whether the officials saw it and decided it wasn’t deliberate, or saw it and deemed it not serious enough to merit their attention, there are no grounds for doing him.
If it wasn’t spotted, by any of the three officials on the scene, then what exactly was the nature of the communication – that we can all see, clearly, on the footage – between the official behind the goal and the referee Steve McLean?
“Nice weather today, right? What do you think of this year’s Game of Thrones?”
The long and short of this is simple; the SFA are asking us to believe that none of the officials witnessed the incident despite video footage showing that all of them had a clear line of sight and that at least one of them tried to communicate something to another.
Either the officials lied in their final statements or the SFA is orchestrating an even bigger lie.
In trying to cover up whatever actually happened, they have managed to piss off Celtic and Inverness in equal measure.
Because both clubs now know – for sure – that something is rotten here.
Inverness have talked about bringing in the lawyers, which seems like overkill to deal with a simple one match ban … but becomes much more understandable in light of the full circumstances.
Celtic can now maintain silence and watch what happens with the Meekings case.
But no-one, whether in the media or elsewhere, can be in the slightest doubt that Celtic’s decision to publicly seek clarification has now been fully vindicated.
The official story does not add up.
The pictures flatly contradict it, and the initial attempts to spin it have failed lamentably.
Something about this does not sit right, and when you recognise that SFA officials have a history of lying to clubs, and that the SFA has often supported that, you can’t be surprised that what, on the surface, looked like a terrible refereeing decision now has wider implications.
When I wrote my initial piece on this on Monday, for On Fields of Green, I suggested that it might well end up another “Dougie Dougie” episode.
With Celtic and Inverness now in perfect step, demanding the same answers to the same questions, and with legal threats hanging in the air, we are on the verge of that very thing.
Only the SFA could screw up this big, and this bad, and only our media could miss the point completely.
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