The Flanagan Verdict Opens Up Another Avenue For Celtic To Attack The SFA.

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Jon Flanagan, the woman beating thug who elbowed Brown in the face at the weekend and got a yellow card for it, had that upgraded to a red last night – awaiting a hearing. It is a punishment he richly deserves for such a dreadful act of aggression on a football pitch.

In a typical bombastic statement, the Ibrox club last night demanded to know why Simunovic wasn’t punished for an alleged offence against Defoe and made wild, rambling assertions of bias. They once again crossed the line into bringing the game into disrepute, and I hope the SFA acts on that.

We have our own issues with the governing body over this nonsense though.

Sunday was not the first time this season that such an appalling action was punished with less than what it clearly, richly, deserved of course.

Those who have questioned Scottish referees over it had frequently found themselves on the end of bans.

It is high time that this changed, and Celtic should be leading the way.

Refs here appear to have one supreme talent; that for blaming other people for their own mistakes on the pitch.

They have a powerful lobby behind them, and all the media support such a lobby could ask for.

Less than fortnight ago, one of them was given airtime on a national radio station where, on behalf of his colleagues, he continued to stonewall on major questions.

Scottish refs act like a protected species and they only get away with this because the media does not support efforts aimed at scrutinising their performances and standards. Celtic should not let that stop us from demanding answers over this incident and others.

Aside from the fact that many of the recent incidents have targeted one player, this was as clear-cut a refereeing decision as you will see.

In deciding not to issue an instant red, the ref appeared to tacitly endorse the idea that Brown is to blame for the shocking way he is treated by other so-called professionals, and especially those in blue shirts.

But it’s more of course; this is symbolic of a larger problem.

That was a game-changing moment on Sunday, as many other such incidents have been in the course of the campaign so far. Perhaps the worst came at Ibrox when Kilmarnock suffered a red card and a penalty in the first five minutes during their Scottish Cup replay earlier in the season.

This led to Steve Clarke launching a famous broadside against the governing body, who’s response to threaten him with a disciplinary. This is how it works now, and Celtic should leading the charge to have that changed.

The decision at the weekend was inexplicable; that it has been subjected to review is not in the least bit surprising. But we need a proper answer as to why that decision was made in the first place. It is such an obvious red that not to give it invites serious questions.

This is a textbook case as to why there need to be big changes, and our club has to be pushing for them.

What we need to do is produce a charter outlining the changes we think need to be made.

We should publish that charter where everyone can see it, and announce that we’re seeking support from the other clubs. If we get it, great. If we don’t at least the rest of the game will know what it is that we want, and how things could improve.

Then we dare the rest to vote it down. Watch changes happen fast. They may not be exactly the ones we propose, but if we do it in public we’ll make people sweat enough that they’ll produce their own. That’s how to get things done.

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