As I write this, Motherwell’s game against Hibs in the Scottish Cup has just kicked off. And even as I was doing the first paragraph, on an early incident in the game, there is a moment which sort of shoves aside the point I was trying to make whilst introducing another.
Let’s take them one at a time.
No sooner had this match started than Willie Collum was flashing the red card at a Motherwell player. The TV commentators may be divided on whether it merited the straight sending off, but I am in no doubt that it did.
We’ve seen Motherwell’s thuggish behaviour this season, and seen refs fail to punish it severely enough.
It was good to see that red come out.
But just moments later – both incidents within the first six minutes of the game – an almost identical challenge from another Motherwell player results in a mere yellow.
There is no consistency to that sort of decision making at all.
Nobody will be able to explain to us why one decision was punished with the ultimate sanction and the other was not.
Celtic fans should be watching this aghast.
Collum, in the first instance, appeared to show that refs do know where the line is, it’s just that in certain circumstances they choose not to draw that line and impose the maximum penalty.
Then a few minutes later we’re wondering again.
I’ll tell you this, if Collum thinks there is a discernible difference between that first challenge and the second then that shows you the state of Scottish refereeing pretty clearly. It is an absolute mess.
VAR, in theory, would have made those decisions today easier, but in fact the ref had a good view of both and in one he’s shown a red and in the other a yellow.
So you tell me; as a Celtic fan, how is technology supposed to change that?
A referee has been confronted by two identical incidents and has made wildly divergent calls.
I know only that none of them would have been a red had a Celtic player been the victim or a player from Ibrox the perpetrator.
Beyond that, I have no idea at all.