Alan Morrison, of Celtic By Numbers, is not a guy prone to hyperbole or exaggeration.
He deals in data. In facts.
His site has become a must-read because of those things.
When he introduced an Honest Mistakes section and started to try and tote up whether or not refereeing “errors” actually cost us over the course of a season, a lot of people screamed “conspiracy theory”.
Imagine their shock when his product was balanced, reasoned and fair.
Alan’s is one of those sites where the editor knows the things he doesn’t know, and that’s why his section on Honest Mistakes is required reading. He actually brought in an expert, a former ref, to run the rule over all of the contentious decisions.
Some of us who read him religiously don’t always agree with what the former official says … but that Alan has gone so far to make his site credible tells you a lot about the man he is and the standards he sets.
That is why when he poses a question the likes of which he did today – “Have the SFA lied to Celtic again?” – it is awfully difficult for anyone who might otherwise dismiss a blogger who asks such a thing as a crank (I should know, I get my fair share of that sort of abuse) to do so. Alan is simply too straight and too sensible for that smear to stand.
The Celtic By Numbers site does not post sensationalist content, which is what makes that question all the more sensational and damning. Even worse, for the governing body, is that Alan Morrison seems convinced that we’ve been misled at the very least in terms of what the operator saw and did not see about the offside against Jota.
He lays out the three “options” that the ref on the pitch and the VAR team had. His conclusion, that the image we’ve all seen is so inconclusive that the officials should have simply “did nothing” and given the benefit of the doubt to the attacker is grounded in what’s actually written in the rulebook. It leaves the SFA with nowhere to run.
But it’s his dissection of the SFA statement where the real meat of the article can be found. For a start, he has highlighted the way in which that statement actually misinterprets the offside rule, which is an astonishing “mistake” piled on top of what is already an extraordinary incident and aftermath. Their contention that Jota was offside when he “received the ball” is ridiculous since it only matters where he was when the pass was made.
Everyone who knows anything about the offside rule knows this. It’s burned into our consciousness. There is no ref, anywhere on the planet, who is not fully conversant with this fact. Nor very many football fans.
But somehow the SFA tried to pass that observation off as if it answered the questions to our satisfaction.
In fact, it only raised fresh ones.
“It doesn’t really matter whether Jota was or was not in fact onside,” Alan writes. “What matters is that it appears the governing body may once again be misleading Celtic and the entire Scottish football community. The SFA are being less than clear as to how the technology supporting VAR is used. They are supporting a decision that is supposed to be definitive but based on all the available evidence, could not possibly be so and indeed the decision-making process did not appear to follow the SFA guidelines.”
Alan raises great issues in his piece, the kind that demand answers be given.
He ends the article with a summation of the times we know – for a fact, with documented proof – that the SFA has blatantly lied to our club. This is not a new phenomenon. It is not a one off.
There is a history of this which all our fans are well aware and cannot ignore.
Nor can Celtic ignore the questions Alan has raised. That’s why his final line might well be the most important one in the whole piece.
“Over to you, Michael Nicholson.”