In the recent meeting between the Celtic Fans Assembly and the board there were a number of crowd-pleasing statements and promises doled out like Halloween candy. The first was that Ibrox’s fans would not get into the ground in January; that one should be easy enough to follow through on. Other subjects covered included refereeing.
And it’s here we get into a sticky area. As usual the mantra was “we are doing things behind the scenes of which you know nothing.” It all sounds very beguiling. But without action it’s just words, and I don’t see any evidence that things are improving.
The weekend was characterised by another bizarre refereeing performance at Celtic Park. How can a team with 85% possession have committed the same number of fouls as the team with 15% possession? Which team was trying to stop the other from playing football?
Joe McHugh of VideoCelts has pointed out that accounting for the numbers their team must have drawn a foul almost every time they had control of the ball.
But although it’s borne out by the facts the reality is that it’s illogical, and runs counter to everything we know about the game.
Anyone who watched the match knows we weren’t the team constantly fouling and wasting time and playing acting … so how could we possibly have committed the same number of fouls across the 90 minutes as the team who played with eleven men behind the ball and who, by their own admission, came as “spoilers”?
Even if you give Celtic’s board the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are “on this” behind the scenes – and I actually don’t – it amazes me that our club has yet to learn that there is no virtue in doing these particular things “behind the scenes.”
Some things need to be done in public. Pressure needs to be put on in a forum where it can spark debate and send a clear warning. Those clubs who share our view that something is way, way wrong here need to be rallied to the cause of changing it.
We’re one of the clubs who allegedly benefits from what others think is a “West of Scotland bias.” We will, therefore, be taken seriously if we lead the way for openness and reform. We would be seen as honest brokers, willing perhaps to leave an advantage on the table to give the rest the sort of standard of officiating we just don’t get at the present time.
It’s another example of where our board is absolutely abysmal at thinking and acting strategically. This needs more than that. It certainly needs more than talk.