Today, Celtic Quick News published a savage editorial, which focussed on the referee for tomorrow’s game.
Everyone has heard stories of Madden being a staunch season ticket holder at Ibrox.
This is apparently not a secret.
Some say it is as well-known as the law of gravity. It is incredible that Scottish football freely acknowledges these sort of issues but pretends they have no influence on decisions. We are the only country where that is the case.
But today’s CQN piece does not focus on that aspect of the decision to give Madden the game.
It falls on another area, that of Madden’s alleged “gambling issues.”
It does not go into detail, but this is an incredible claim for a mere blog to make.
I can only assume that Paul Brennan has this cold, that it’s something he knows to be iron clad. Paul is far too careful to place an allegation like that in the public domain without having his facts absolutely straight.
And with all respect to Paul, if a mere Celtic blogger, although a well-connected one, is aware of such issues who else knows about them?
Do the SFA? Does the media?
Celtic are not the only club who have taken issue with Bobby Madden’s refereeing; only this month, Craig Levein was fuming after a scandalous display from the official which partially resulted in a bunch of players and coaches fighting on the touchline, which needed police intervention to sort out.
Look, I’ve got no information on Madden one way or the other. But if these things are such an open secret that a blogger can write about them without fear, then we have problems in this game which should give every single one of us pause.
This is a subject I’ve written about before; I wrote about it on Fields in 2015, and I did an article on that same subject this very year. It has worried me for a long, long time, and it’s also blindly obvious that the SFA has left the door to it wide open.
I knew how seriously the SFA took it when McCoist famously waved his sheet of papers at the media and told them he knew of dozens within the Scottish game – and he hinted that officials were amongst them – who were involved in betting on games.
A panel should have been convened that very day. It never was.
Those claims, which the press splattered all over their pages, were not even simply ignored; McCoist actually called for a lessening of the regulations and he was supported in that by, amongst others, The Daily Record hack Craig Swan, who wrote an editorial on it at the time.
We know that for ten years Rangers used EBT’s to entice players, hiding contracts and effectively paying footballers with the proceeds of a scam. We strongly suspect that some at the SFA knew this was being done, in contravention of their regulations, or found out that it had been and decided the club should not face the consequences of it. The evidence for that is pretty overwhelming. And rightly the fans have concluded that for years a fix was in.
But how do we know that’s the greatest crime in our sport?
I have long harboured the suspicion – and stated it openly in those articles – that at least one game in which I have had an emotional involvement has been at least partially corrupted and I do believe this. I would also be extremely surprised if it wasn’t more than one.
But today is the closest that such an allegation has ever come to being put in the public domain, and I commend CQN on having the courage to place it there and I would hope that some in the media follow up on it, and the implications of it.
If a Grade One official has “gambling issues” and is still allowed to take major games that is a concern for every single football fan in Scotland.
Silence will not avail us here; pull up this rock and let us shine some light into this darkest of corners, or wait until something happens that brings this into view anyway … and watch the game collapse as a result.