To Those Going Crazy Over Refs, The Celtic Fans Welcome You To The Reform Camp.

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The sound of whingeing and wailing, which was already filling the airwaves yesterday, went up a notch today, as I knew it would the second the ref flashed the red card at the first Hearts player. We were 1-0 up. It was late in the match.

When the second came out I swear I held the audible collective howl of outrage from much of Scotland, that part that always tells us we’re paranoid, that there’s no such thing as a bent ref, that they don’t succumb to pressure from the stands.

Then, after the game, the ever dependable Robbie Neilson said just that.

This is the guy whose side has never actually lost to us because we’re a better team but because of some confluence of events which conspired against him. A poor free kick decision in the first minute that led to a goal in the 92nd; that’s the logic of this guy’s constant moaning in the media.

I thought his comments in the aftermath of the game today were mind-bendingly bizarre. He wants the yellow card count to reflect the foul count? Really? I would give that experiment a fortnight before he was screaming about how unjust it is. His players are reckless thugs at times. Whoever was interviewing him should have asked him two interlocking questions;

First, which of the fouls that Celtic committed deserved a yellow card, and secondly, which of the yellow cards his own team got does he think didn’t deserve to be? His answers would be fascinating, if he gave an honest accounting of things.

Both of the early bookings for the Hearts pair are deserved. If you are still lunging about and pushing players when your side is chasing an equaliser late in the game although you’re already on a booking then that’s on you, and a little introspection is in order.

All four fouls are yellows. Two yellows means red. This is simple arithmetic which a child could do. The ref wasn’t influenced by the crowd in the least. His linesman, who I thought had a thoroughly wretched afternoon, certainly weren’t.

The Ibrox illiterati have jumped all over the “foul to card ratio” stats; another group who would dump this mad idea in a week if it was actually applied, and they would howl with even greater rage than they do right now.

They will be moon-howling about Collum for weeks to come. He deserves it too. He gives one penalty but not another. I think he gets both red cards right, but if you wanted to debate the Lundstram one you could probably do it … still, I think he’s a terrible official and I personally wouldn’t want him near any of our games.

Once again though, the whole country is focussed on the whistlers and once again it’s because a couple of decisions are seen to have gone against them in the same weekend as some calls seem to have favoured us. It doesn’t matter that this is built on a shoddy foundation – Hibs should have had a stonewall penalty and Morelos definitely deserved to walk and the red cards Hearts got today only a moron (Robbie Neilson) would complain about.

But let’s have the chat then. Motherwell got a penalty this weekend for a handball that never was; the ball clearly drifts by his hand. Ross County could have two straight reds against Kilmarnock; as it turns out, one of their players got himself sent off anyway. He will miss – irony of ironies – the game against the Ibrox club at the weekend.

If people want the debate – the serious debate – over just how bad our referees are, I know that Celtic fans have waited a long time to join it.

So if the media wants to get real and lay it all out then we’re in, we’re up for it, and we’ll support the answer whether its making refs declare allegiances, making them declare – ahem – social memberships, grading them properly and punishing those who egregiously screw up or bringing in refs from other countries to take our big matches … count us in, we’ll back it.

But see, I rather suspect that none of that is on the agenda, or being proposed. It never has been before when we’ve wanted to discuss it. It’s only when decisions go our way and the media starts hollering, or when they go against Ibrox and their fans revert to batshit type.

Nobody, though, at any time, can say that our fans are satisfied with things the way they are. Nobody can say that we are the ones protecting the system, because we’re not. We want it torn down. We want it reformed root and branch and always have.

If refereeing in this country is a mess – which it is and we all know that it is – the only people I know who aren’t to blame for that are us. If those who cover our game, and some of those who work in it, finally want to join us in the reform camp, well their help and support will be as welcome as it is overdue. But we were here first.

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  • Frankie says:

    James what can be done if there is no refs then there can be no games , it is a 100% thankless job.

  • Johnny Green says:

    I hope we get complaints and sour grapes from the managers of every team we face this season. A greetin face Gio in 2 weeks time will suit me just fine.

  • Nick66 says:

    The Refs know VAR is coming to the SPL, and I think they are over compensating for the dire calls they made last season. They now realise that not making that crucial decision on field, on the day, and let the arbitration panel sort it out on Tuesday. Moreflaberos was astonished to be red carded for an infringement he would be normally just booked for. Let’s not forget who will be the big losers under VAR. The Ibrox”family” have just realised that I think, and now they are in apoplectic shock. We won today, two reds were issued correctly, as they were yesterday.

  • Johnny Green says:

    John Beaton has been thanked on a number of occasions by the patrons of the Crown Bar in Bellshill, in fact he has never left there sober.

  • Dora says:

    Robbie moaning after another loss to Celtic-almost as predictable as sevco fans rioting…same old gik

  • Geoff says:

    Callachan and Balfour committed similar assaults on us but Walker called them both hard but fair?
    Maybe if refs started to show reds instead of this new “orange” variety we would afford skilful players some form of protection.

  • harold shand says:

    Star striker at a club is somehow allowed to get about 2 stone overweight , comes on for 13 minutes , gets sent off for lashing out and lands his team right in it , then walks about laughing and ends up costing his team 3 points

    That should be the big story of the weekend

    • Martin says:

      Yup. Even at 10 men (and Lundstram Red was indeed the correct call) they were winning that game. Morelos cost them 2 points with utter stupidity. This is deflection because everyone knows he’s not being sold, so the image management is in full swing.

  • S Thomas says:

    I’ve been calling for VAR for years, as sick of the whingeing after matches. I mean practically all have VAR in now, I don’t really understand why it’s taking this long. For me going back to our rivals and the Hibs match, from the penalty I thought it was soft one, but don’t know why the Hibs player had to have his hands on the player. If your doing that in the penalty box, your giving a ref a decision to make. Morelos a red card every day of the wee. The Lundstram for me, was very soft, and I don’t think it was a red, but like the penalty decision, I’ve seen them giving. Our match yesterday, the two red cards , well your giving a ref a decision to make, if you are on yellows, and making fouls, no matter soft they may seem. So surely VAR should be in place, as would give the referees help as well. To have that would seem a no brainer to me.

    • Martin says:

      Lundstram was a red card offence. He was high, out of control and made no attempt to play the ball.

      One thing I hate though (and it’s proper pundit talk) is “giving the ref a decision to make.” That’s literally a ref’s job- making decisions, all game. Not meaning you, S Thomas, but you’ve reminded me of a need to vent this for ages. When pundit say that it almost 100% of the time really means this:

      “I don’t know the laws of the game. I’ve never read the laws of the game. I do no actual research before coming on here and being paid handsomely to talk about football. However for reasons I can’t articulate I disagree with either the ref or the general consensus about that decision so I’ll say something non comittal that avoids challenge or engaging my brain.”

      Every pundit should be made to study the laws of the game/earn a referee qualification before being paid to go on TV and talk about football decisions. Because they currently know nothing useful.

      • Johnny Green says:

        I agree Martin, Lundstram’s tackle? was most definitely a red card offence, for he made no attempt to win the ball whatsoever. If he had made a genuine attempt to win the ball and got it wrong, mistimed it, whatever, then yes it would have been a yellow. However, he cynically decided that the player was coming down, that he would go no further and lunged to gain the momentum he needed to bring Boyle down. A straight red card was the correct decision and I find it ludicrous that anyone can think otherwise.

  • Peterbrady says:

    And when the laws of football are applied correctly as on Wednesday PSV four or five nil easy money

  • SSMPM says:

    Easy to criticise refs but if going by some of the responses on here from people that have seen the incidents in slow mo then there would be a whole swine load more rank rotten recruits. I hope its just your own bias that leads you to your decision making, its clearly not objectivity

    • Martin says:

      I agree. And I’m quite conscious of my own bias. I’ve chatted it over with some of my fellow refs here ( not Scotland, they’re not Scottish or even interested in the Scottish game) and collectively our thoughts are.

      Hibs should’ve had a penalty.
      Hibs should’ve had a red card.
      Sevco penalty looks really soft because Colak throws himself theatrically, but actually if we ignore that part… He is fouled and is moving to Marshall to pressure him so penalty actually correct.
      All 4 Red cards in the ibrox/celtic fixtures this weekend correct. First for hearts was the harshest as minimal contact shove for 2nd yellow, but still justifiable. The rest are absolute stick ons.

      Mostly agrees with what I thought, though I did think the sevco penalty was very soft. However their views were very helpful and I do think I now agree with them. Just.

      Bias is fine, when recognised and challenged.

  • SSMPM says:

    Don’t get me wrong Martin, if a Madden (thank god he’s gone) had given Hearts a pen in the last minute for a tackle that the hun media and press could just about justify as a pen and denying us the 3 points, I’d be screaming.
    That’s why, and we all know the importance of this, we need to put more of our chances away to avoid the suspicion of undue influence on games like Madden used to have (ha ha ha do I sound bias?)

  • John S says:

    It shouldn’t have to take a ref’s performance to highlight improvements (mentioned above) that would be good for the game.

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