Celtic’s Next Referee Remains At The Centre Of A Bizarre And Troubling Story.

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Just before Christmas, an unusual story appeared in the press, but it was one that many of us have been waiting on for quite some time.

We didn’t know details in advance.

We were unaware of the specifics of the allegations until they were public.

They were not buried in the distant past but in the present day.

Still, we had been waiting on it for a while, or at least something very like it.

The story appeared in the Daily Mail, and it alleged that a number of bookmakers had contacted the SFA over “irregular betting patterns” in a Dundee-Hearts match in which Willie Collum – who the SFA confirmed today as the referee for Monday night’s game against Hibs at Celtic Park – booked four Dundee players after a flurry of betting on that outcome.

There are three interesting things about this story.

The first of them is simple; this was not a single bookmaker, and nor was one individual involved in the betting.

That wouldn’t have tripped the alarm.

This had to have been multiple people, betting with multiple companies, and putting unusual amounts of money down.

The pattern would have been obvious, because these organisations do exchange information.

The second thing is; the bookmakers hadn’t at that time ruled out a report to the police.

You’d expect that they are waiting to see the outcome of the SFA investigation before they take that action, but that action cannot be entirely ruled out.

The third thing is this; the SFA, in handing Collum the Celtic game, have effectively given him a huge vote of confidence.

That will not have gone un-noticed.

Now, there is no suggestion that it’s Collum who’s the subject of this “inquiry” or that he’s under active investigation; it may be that the Dundee players who were booked, or maybe just a couple of them, are where the concerns here lie.

One of them was Leigh Griffiths.

Ponder that for a moment, but don’t get carried away.

To get the players onboard, you need to corrupt multiple people. It’s much easier to buy – or coerce – a ref.

Which isn’t to say that’s what happened here; but this is ABC stuff.

For years, this site and others have raised the horrific possibility that betting syndicates might corrupt our national sport.

It has been painfully obvious for a long, long time.

The doors are wide open to this sort of venal behaviour.

The inability of managers to question refereeing decisions is practically an invite to it. The media’s insistence that we have a clean game and their total unwillingness to even look to make sure that we do, is horrendous.

Has that moment we dreaded – and which the media always denied – finally come?

This is no longer bloggers indulging in a bit of speculation and asking “what if?”

The bookies think this is suspect.

They would not have raised it without good reason.

That they have even let it be known, publicly, that this might be elevated to a police matter is telling, and alarming.

A group of people placed enough money on this, over enough different outlets, that it triggered an investigation; that only happens in a very small number of circumstances.

The way the bookies see, it, whoever those people were, it didn’t seem that they were taking a punt … they were betting on a sure thing, and if that’s true then it’s an either an incredible bit of foresight or somebody was up to no good.

This report was published on 24 December, and some of the press picked it up and did their own articles, although the number was pretty small. Surely somebody at one of the national titles is chasing this down, to do a follow up?

It’s the least the Scottish football public deserves, isn’t it?

Now, let’s give the SFA the benefit of the doubt.

Let’s say that they were open for business all the way through the Christmas and New Year periods and this matter was being vigorously pursued and not just stuck at the bottom of somebody’s in-tray.

We’re less than three weeks from the date of that report.

Is that investigation complete?

The site which covers the industry – Gambling News – did a piece on 27 December, calling it “Possible Game Rigging” in their headline, in which they confirmed that this was in the hands of the Security And Integrity Unit at the SFA.

The step after that, if something is proved or deemed likely, is to pass it on to the Compliance Officer.

There is nothing on their site to suggest that this issue has been resolved, and if that’s the case then think for a minute about what it means.

It means that Collum rolls into town, to take our next game, “under suspicion.”

That’s the right term, I think.

Not “under investigation” which would necessitate suspending him, would it not?

I mean, at least you would hope so. You would think so.

Under suspicion. That’s the right term.

So Celtic is in a strange position here.

We can’t object to him on these grounds, because that would be labelling a man before the matter has been fully looked into.

But the SFA has to know that every decision he makes will now be subjected to the most forensic scrutiny there is, and not even that of the football going public … but that of the gambling industry.

Does that make it better for us or worse?

Better, in some ways, to be sure … but it leaves a very bad taste in the mouth just the same.

It leaves us all concerned.

It leaves a lot of questions unanswered and I think a lot of our fans – and probably some people at the club – would feel better if Collum was nowhere near our games again this season.

I wonder if other clubs would not agree.

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  • Lanarkbhoy says:

    Disgraceful article. I would be surprised if Willie Collums solicitors were not all over this.

    • Jake Hansen says:

      Lanark, huh?

      Upset at a journalist doing his job, huh?

      Upset someone calling a Scottish ref to question AFTER the matter was already passed onto the SFA, huh?

      Wanting to get lawyers involved, huh?

      Juuuuust waiting for your, “Move along, Timmy. Nothing to see here.*

    • James Forrest says:

      Then they should be looking at The Daily Mail and every other outlet which ran the story.

      I was not the one who headlined an article “Bookies Flag Possible Game Rigging in Scottish Soccer Match.”

      That was the site that covers the betting industry.

      So are his lawyers going after everyone?

      Let me repeat what I shouldn’t need to for those who have READ THE PIECE … I am NOT accusing anyone.

      I am saying that by virtue of the complaint he will take the Celtic game “under suspicion” unless he has been cleared.

      And if he’s been cleared, we should be told that.

  • Pan says:

    If true this certainly might help to explain the inconsistencies of referees that we have been complaining about. What if?…….bookings were done to order and once your order was completed………. then you could not book anyone any more in a particular game. Just a thought! It is certainly possible. There are endless possibilities to explain inconsistencies.

    One can only hope that this is fully and properly investigated to the satisfaction of those who are concerned, but this is Scotland after all and we have been pointing out perceived irregularities for years with the media and SFA not willing to be pro-active. Remember Farry.

  • Johnny mcglinchey says:

    He is nothing but a pandering wee fuckin wimp, he should be barred from the grotto the masonic prick. HH

  • Jimmy says:

    There is no evidence whatsoever that Willie Collin was involved. Your article is verging on libel.

    • James Forrest says:

      And I never said – AT ALL – that he was definitely involved.

      Not even close to it. I simply reported what’s in the public domain.

      Your comment verges on pish.

  • SSMPM says:

    Dodgy ref, good in the Hobbit though. HH

  • Seppington says:

    A lot of hunterlopers on here tonight. Well seeing your earlier article has pissed them off, eh James?

    Whether a ref is taking money from gambling syndicates or doing a favour for his favourite team in blue it’s a corruption of the game. You lot would stand up for the little git seeing as how your rancid klub are generally the long term beneficiaries of his and all other ref’s “honest mistakes”. Shower of shameless roaster bawbags each and every single one of you. May someone piss in yer Buckfast ya wallopers.

  • Christopher Parkes says:

    James, by coincidence I, just last night watched Bad Sport on Netflix. The episode on Juventus an Calciopoli struck some eerily similar chords to wait we see on a weekly basis here.

  • Bob (original) says:

    Good article- and worthwhile reminder.

    I remember reading that article and being surprised – but then the festivities made me forget. Christmas Eve was a good day to release the story then?

    I presume those bets haven’t been paid out yet?

    So, either the SFA and/or the Police must complete – and publicise – the outcome of an investigation. Otherwise, the bets are deemed ‘good’?

    [Not into betting so please correct me if I’m wrong?]

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