Critics are lining up to take a kick (a legal kick, which means anything that doesn’t break a leg) at the SFA over yesterday’s scandalous decision not to sanction Allan McGregor for his off-the-ball boot at Kristofer Ajer.
Their failure to prosecute the player has sparked outrage, and not just from Celtic fans. Retired refs, commentators, ex-players … all have slammed this as completely unjustifiable and all have posed an important question; just what does constitute a red card offence now?
These people would have let Keane off with the Alf Inge Haland assault if only the ex-Celt had been a rabid Sevconite in one of their run-of-the-mill blue tops instead. The impression that the disciplinary system is run so as not to inconvenience Ibrox continues to grow. Ryan Jack, who is the latest person connected with their club to push conspiracy theories and call for the demotion of refs, has also escaped censure for his remarks; Neil Lennon must be quietly fuming.
Killie’s Gary Dicker is not so silent. He’s outraged over his own red card – issued by Collum – and the decision of the SFA board to uphold it. Steve Clark was fuming about it at the time, and said that the SFA’s decision not to rescind it was related to Collum getting awarded the weekend’s game at Celtic Park because it would have cast a bad light on that decision.
This is the SFA playing politics with one of his players, at the expense of his team.
One thing they are not doing is playing public relations; the backlash from this has been major, already, and everywhere the Association looks like one which has taken collective leave of its senses. The McGregor kick-out is a red card any day, all day, every day and that a three-man panel cannot agree on that makes you wonder who the hold-out was and whether that person (or persons; for all we know the SFA might have the only two people in Scotland outside of the Ibrox circle in it who don’t believe it was a sending off offence) is entirely honest.
The notion of keeping their identities a secret is one I agree with, but it has obvious appeal to the SFA here because there’s no way we can look back at games that person was involved with to see the totality of the double standard I am certain is at play.
That incident has been replayed on the telly a thousand times since the weekend. Chris Sutton has made a point of mentioning it every time a microphone is stuck in his face, and his contention that it embarrasses our sport is one I cannot disagree with for a second. He has helped to ensure that by giving the SFA’s decision wall-to-wall coverage south of the border. They deserve the humiliation that goes with that, and the incredulity of outside observers.
Still the question remains; what exactly does it take to get you sent off in Scottish football right now? When a challenge like the one Dicker was red-carded for does get you a ban and Morelos and McGregor get off with their kick-outs, it suggests that wearing a blue jersey does at least confer some sort of immunity on you.
If you wear another coloured shirt you’re less likely to escape the beaks, unless of course you’re Steven Naismith standing over a Celtic player and screaming at him like a ned who’s decked someone in a street fight. In fact, kicking Celtic players appears, at times, to come with no price at all attached. Ask Kieran Tierney, the most fouled player on this island. There was no protection for him before this decision; there certainly won’t be any now.
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