Date: 20th April 2017 at 8:48am
Written by:

The night before last, Bayern Munich were denied a place in the semi-final of the Champions League by one of the worst examples of bad officiating I’ve ever witnessed. At some point during the game, Tom English thought he would roll the dice and go for this years Pig Ignorance award, when he trolled Celtic fans on Twitter by asking if we wanted the ref reported to UEFA.

What a clown that man is. Instead of low comedy he should try to be a journalist for once.

Two things spring from that tweet; the first is this. Tom English and others in our media think the whole concept of refereeing corruption is a joke.

They treat it as a subject fit only for conspiracy nuts. This is the path to disaster.

When so-called journalists declare, without the slightest investigation, that there’s nothing to see you have to ask whether they are just lazy, ignorant, afraid or bought. It’s one or the other. Their attitude is dangerous. If there is a corruption problem in our sport they are making it worse. If there isn’t one already they are creating the perfect conditions to grow it.

The second thing that emerges from the tweet is this; if English thinks anyone needs to refer that game to UEFA he is kidding himself on. UEFA will be doing its own internal investigation into that fiasco and God help people if they find something. UEFA takes this stuff seriously, unlike the SFA.

And whilst real journalists around Europe are slamming an astonishing series of mistakes and calling for the immediate introduction of video evidence in big games the Scottish hacks are using the game as an excuse to attack Celtic fans for daring to ask for the same.

I think Scottish football has a corruption problem. A big one. I don’t care if it’s anti-Celtic bias or something else, and I never have. I use the word corruption very deliberately. There are different kinds of corruption. Not all of them are about bias.

You cannot have watched some of the mistakes in our game of late and not wonder if simple incompetence is behind them or something else. This is not an unreasonable assumption, and I am sick and tired of having a media that refuses to take this issue seriously.

It is a matter of time before a major match fixing scandal erupts in Scottish football, to add to the growing stench of other scandals. A matter of time.

We are arrogant fools to pretend otherwise.

Every major league in Europe has been plagued by this problem. What makes us so special? I have news for our hacks; our refs are only human. As such, they are susceptible to allowing personal bias or the prospect of financial gain influence them as refs anywhere else are.

The media knows our game isn’t clean.

Let’s cut the bullshit for a minute and face up to some facts, as inconvenient as they might be. We know players dive, that managers routinely defend them when they know they shouldn’t, that clubs sign players to get them out of trouble who are palpably unfit to be playing the professional game, that one of the biggest clubs in the land was subsidised for years by the tax payer, that they went on to be liquidated for it and that the NewCo that emerged in its place has never been run by an honest man in five years.

We know players routinely break gambling rules. We suspect that there’s a doping issue in the game which the governing bodies don’t want to find, and that it’s not the only thing they’ve ignored. One association President had to resign over a scandal and another managed to brass neck the most blatant campaign of cheating in the history of the game – in which he was inextricably entwined – to swan off with a fat pension pot.

The game here in Scotland is riddled with dishonesty issues, but all of this most people face up to and we deal with it somehow.

But we draw the line at the idea our officials might be bent?

If they aren’t, this is the only “clean” association in Europe. How fortunate for us.

UEFA will be discreetly looking at what happened the other night in the Champions League because you have to. When the officials are so abysmally bad that you have you head in your hands as one mistake is compounded by another by another by another you can’t help but wonder if the Spanish had their very own Get Out Of Jail Free card just in case they couldn’t pull off the level of performance necessary to take them through.

I get tired repeating this; I am not alleging an anti-Celtic conspiracy.

It is the biggest red herring out there.

But I know refs have allowed their personal biases to creep into games involving us. I also know that all efforts to bring in an English style system of refs having to declare their football allegiances is resisted here against all logic. I know there’ll be leaves on the moon before the SFA agrees to video replay evidence in games.

Our officials are a joke, and the SFA is too. Their disciplinary appeals system is a shambles, and I didn’t need anyone to point that out to me before the Scott Brown affair; some of us are more than aware that it’s a sham.

When a Celtic player can be done for making a racist remark – something that’s essentially one guy’s word against another – and another player can escape a ban for something that would get you arrested in the street because “intent couldn’t be proved” then we’re through the Looking Glass where white is black and black is white.

No, we don’t need lessons in how backwards it is, thanks. The words “Neil Lennon is guilty, everyone else was innocent” still ring in our heads too much for that.