Celtic Fans Are Concerned About The Men In Black. Will The Club Act?

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Bob Ebeling is not a famous man, but the only reason his name is known at all is because his bosses failed – catastrophically failed – to listen to him. He was an engineer who worked at the company which supplied the rockets for NASA, and in 1986 he and a couple of his colleagues were adamant that the Challenger should not take off in cold weather.

His own company bosses ignored his warning and failed to pass them on. The temperature at Cape Canaveral dropped on the night before the fateful launch. The rubber O-rings which were supposed to act as a heat seal froze and broke.

The shuttle exploded 73 seconds after it got off the ground. The country was shocked. All but a handful of in-house Cassandras who had been banging their heads against the wall trying to be taken seriously.

How about another one?

As the eruption of Mount Vesuvius drew closer, every animal that could left; hordes of rats were seen leaving town and all local wildlife stampeded, all observed by the people of Pompeii.

Superstitions were rife that “giants” were walking around the countryside; a traditional sign that disaster was looming. Actually, the reason for the belief in “giants” was that the volcano was triggering earthquakes and causing the ground to shake.

Still the people of Pompeii and the other surrounding towns did not take the warnings seriously. Then the water in the Bay of Naples literally boiled, killing off the fish. Even that wasn’t enough for the locals to get the Hell out.

The rest is history, and you can still see the remains of some of those people in the ruins of that town today, preserved where they died.

How about another one?

For weeks before her sinking, the RMS Lusitania was the frequent subject of meetings at which people were reminded that she was sailing through international waters at a time of war. The British had already blockaded Germany’s ports and the warning had already gone out that all naval vessels under her flag (whether flying it or not) were fair game.

On the morning she left New York, the Imperial Germany Embassy actually put notices in over 50 newspapers, coast to coast, explicitly warning people not to travel on the ship.

Not only that, but on the night of the attack, 7 May 1915, the British government telexed the captain to warn him away from certain coastal areas where U-Boats might be … he ignored those warnings and sailed straight into the jaws of death.

1195 people died in spite of an extraordinary amount of forewarning.

Let’s have one more, just to make sure the message is clear.

Prior to the start of Operation Barbarossa, Stalin received several warnings that German troops were massing on the border. One zealous intelligence chief who simply would not stop banging on about it was actually shot lest he jeopardise the “peace” between the two countries.

When the invasion was still ten days out the warnings started pouring in from every corner of the military, intelligence and defence establishments.

Josef Stalin ignored every single one of them; historians now believe he received 47 separate reports which indicated that a German invasion was not just likely but imminent.

His failure to take that seriously was probably the costliest in history; 20 million of his countrymen died in the next four years.

A little bit OTT? You know where this is going, right?

How many warnings do we need?

When the evidence that something stinks is piled high, when you can see it a mile away and recognise that we’re in the danger zone here, with Ibrox looming, when does this club of ours start taking the obvious threat seriously?

Wednesday night was another one where we saw more decisions which we would call inexplicable if they were not, in fact, entirely understandable.

The warning light is flashing at us, and it has been for weeks.

There were a couple of incidents at Pittodrie the night before which deserved a look and didn’t get one, including an Ibrox player controlling the flight of a ball into the box with his upper arm. These are decisions which I don’t think teams should get … except that just two months ago they were being given … but only against Celtic and for the Ibrox club itself.

Wednesday night, there were two penalty kicks claims – valid claims, from us – turned down and a goal was chopped off.

How much warning do we need?

Ibrox is just around the corner, and we already know who the officials are; that alone should have people inside Parkhead extremely concerned about the way that game will go.

Here’s an interesting fact; we have not been the beneficiaries of a single VAR decision, either directly – as in one that gives us a critical decision in a game we’re involved in – or indirectly, which is to say one that might have impacted the title race in our favour; i.e. a major decision that falls counter to the best interests of the club at Ibrox.

When you talk about a “level playing field” you expect what people have been arguing from the early dawn of time; you expect these things to “even themselves out.” Which is what would happen if we were dealing with simply inconsistency; if this was just a result of bad officiating, we would get, over the course, a reasonable number of calls.

That we haven’t had one, not one, in the first few months … that would seem to defy mathematical probability. It certainly defies common sense and simple logic. It’s similar, in a sense, to the bizarre number of free kicks which are given against us, even in games where we are overwhelmingly dominant in terms of possession.

That number is so extraordinary that it jumps off the page at you.

It even stands out to Ibrox fans, who aren’t exactly the Quiz Kids. They, of course, have drawn slightly warped conclusions from those numbers – like how few yellow cards we get compared to fouls – but the important thing is that those “fouls against” stats are so obvious nobody can miss them.

Celtic fans know what they are watching.

Hell, everybody knows what they are watching here although few want to say it out loud. We know that this isn’t inconsistency we’re looking at but a very clear pattern, just like with the foul stats.

This is all we have to be concerned about. We’re confident of going to Ibrox and getting a win, as long as the rules are the same for both sides. But what we’ve seen in recent weeks and months is not in the least bit encouraging, and when you saw that 7-minute board go up in their game against Aberdeen you saw a possible glimpse at how it will go on 2 January.

As I’ve said on this site consistently, we seek only basic fairness.

We seek a level playing field, because then it comes down to nothing more than who has the best players and we’re well aware of which of the two clubs that is. It’s the men in black who worry us.

But does it worry the powers-that-be at Celtic?

It damned well should because if we are on the wrong side of a disgusting decision at Ibrox that costs us points a lot of us are going to point fingers not only at Hampden but at Celtic Park itself.

Because the warnings are so clear and the likelihood of such a decision has been telegraphed so far in advance that the SFA might as well have taken out a newspaper ad.

Our club does not necessarily have to accuse people of bias here.

But the club has to make it clear that standard of decision making is so poor, and so suspect, that it simply cannot continue as it is. We should make a clear statement about how we will be keeping a close watch on what happens next and act accordingly … a warning shot, but a necessary one.

Anything less and we’re just asking for it.

This board has already slept at the wheel on issues from financial fair play to fit and proper person regulations … but refereeing reform remains the clear and present danger which you think they cannot keep ignoring … and still we do.

What is it going to take before they speak out on this stuff?

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  • Stephen says:

    James don’t think anything will change with the return of Mr lawwell.

  • Paul maclennan says:

    Lawell is back bring on any kind of ‘old firm’ bullshit connections and financial model to allow low wage structure and high bonuses. I left my season tickets(3 of them) after we threw away the 10 not because I’m entitled but because it’s us heading for the same old same old yet again and I’m not giving them nothing anymore. I’m a firestick fan now

  • Charlie Kelly says:

    100% correct but we have been putting up with this crap since I first seen Celtic aged four I’m now 72 and don’t believe it will ever change,whole system in corrupt as JS said they can’t disallow every goal we score

  • James murphy says:

    We the Celtic support should put these facts to the Sfa and send a covering letter to EUFA and FIFA who must act for the good of football worldwide as all must have noticed no Scottish presence at the World Cup for obvious reasons.We could sign a petition for rules parity with the the world and Europe bodies for parity of rules

  • Brian says:

    What it will take is more people like me to give up buying a season ticket, unfortunately as long as there is someone to snap them up, our board won’t give a damn. Until the top tier is empty like under Ronnie D that’s when they listen.

    • Kevan McKeown says:

      @ Brian. And thats exactly right. If this board continue tae sit back and dae nothin, the support should react by hurtin them in their pockets. It’s all they’ll understand. Horrible thought, that at a time when things are startin tae look better and just about everybody (Celtic support) is happy with the way the managers goin, that we’ll be outdone in some way due tae a gutless board.

  • michael mccann says:

    Celtic can still have the league title taken from them all it takes is a few pens and few red cards. Wake up Celtic there evil intent at hand

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    Would like tae think, the people in charge of our club will be keepin very close eye on this game AND any game after, then act on any further dubious calls against us. The ibrox club, their support and their media (without even goin intae the shitebag, blind eye pundits on tv & radio), know exactly what they’re gettin away with here, absolutely nae doubt about that whatsoever. As long as in some way it benefits and suits THEM, they’ll pull the ‘paranoia’ card out their arse and while they’re at it, even try and condone any examples of bogus decisions. Its down tae our own club officials tae take this on. Question is will they tho ?

  • Eamonn Little says:

    James makes some alarming points here,and all can be borne out with hard facts.My fear is that our board are complicit in this and as a consequence,compromised from their well heeled boots,to the top of their heads.They won’t be making waves anytime soon I fear.

  • paul obrien says:

    As long as season tickets all sold our board could not care less, old firm plc runs the show.surely you understand that

  • Kevin lee says:

    If this board don’t address these concerns from the fans and the Blatant Cheating continues then they will have to carry the can WHEN big Ange hands in his resignation which will happen ands heads down south and takes on a team which will not be hampered by missing camera angles,perfectly good goals being ruled out and being told by the board not to rock the boat over VAR watch out Desmond because this will happen while you’re still asleep at the wheel, You have been warned.

  • Johnny Green says:

    Celtic should start off by not accepting Beaton as the referee for the Glasgow derby, let’s try a point blank refusal and see what the reaction is.

  • John Copeland says:

    Every Celtic fan should be concerned about the ‘men in black’ and their consistently highly dubious officiating ! The complete integrity of the game of football in this country is being violated on a regular occurrence . I’m more concerned with the governance of these officials …It’s as if the games governing bodies have said to their ref’s , you have carte blanche to do as you please … Also ,when you have a SMSM playing the Blind Willie McTell game ,you know the cards are marked ….

    • Eddie Duffy says:

      Utterly cowardly non action,from people who tell us they work behind the scenes, ibrox dupes.

  • BJM says:

    Johnny green you are spot on . Also I not sure about holding money from Celtic re season tickets , maybe a better way would be pick one of the cups and refuse to attend ie how many Kilmarnock supporters would be in Hampden for semi final less than 5,000.
    That hurts the sfa the very peepul who are appointing these officials.

  • Jim Duffy says:

    Our board can’t act on anything against the SFA or SPFL because they are in the corruption upto their necks and the powers that be know our board won’t dare say anything ,or the little matter of the 5 way agreement will be brought up and the whole rotten old firm Ibrox must survive corruption which our board is definitely complicit in all this.


    What it will take James is when one of our more volatile supporters loses the plot and tries to get his hands on the Ref.
    Then all Hell will break loose. The Media will pile in. The SFA will charge Celtic resulting in possible sanctions.
    Meanwhile our legitimate claims will be buried and the Board will still do Sweet Feck All.

  • Eddieogorman says:

    I agree inconsistency is unacceptable and the club has to stand up to this blatant cheating ! And we shouldn’t have to wait until something drastic happens in a high profile match !

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