VAR might not have been brought in to screw us, but it is being used to do precisely that.
When the ball hit the Livingston defender’s hand, as clear as you like tonight, VAR’s operators highlighted it to the ref because, frankly, they had no other option.
He didn’t even want to look at it.
This technology is for one thing only; to screw Celtic wherever possible and the rest of the time to assure business as usual.
That decision tonight was one of the most obvious penalty decisions you’ll ever see and the ref did not want a second look at it because he would have had no choice but to give it.
Or so I thought until the vastly worse decision which came later.
The goal we aren’t given is utterly disgraceful.
Officials are making it up as they go along in games against us.
Abada may well be offside when the ball is played, but he’s heading away from the goal, and the moment the Livingston player touches it that’s no longer an offside.
The rule on this is clear. It is very clear indeed. There is no ambiguity in it.
“A player in an offside position receiving the ball from an opponent who deliberately plays the ball (except from a deliberate save by any opponent) is not considered to have gained an advantage.”
That is as simple as it gets. There are decisions which are 50/50.
There are ones over which there is some debate.
This is not one of them. That’s straightforward.
There is no way any sentient person who witnessed that header can argue that it was anything other than a deliberate attempt to play the ball.
It’s horrendous defending but officials don’t give out charity for that.
Behind the scenes, we need to be – need to be – raising 99 kinds of Hell about this, or we deserve everything we get. And sooner or later there will be a major decision which costs us points. I would prefer we did not wait for it to happen.
Obviously I’m delighted at the result.
We were excellent except for that momentary lapse in concentration which led to us conceding the goal; we need to watch out for that happening more than once in a blue moon, and even then the “more than once” thing is aggravating. But overall, I thought we were great.
It is nights like these when it’s best to raise these matters, when they have not materially influenced the result, when we have endured and soldiered on in spite of them.
When we cannot be accused of deflecting from a poor performance or score-line.
I’ll write more on this subject tomorrow, but there is an obvious pattern here and everyone can see it.
A club in this league is being disenfranchised time and time again, either by the use of this technology or by the refusal to use it. Another club has been the beneficiary of some truly extraordinary decisions.
It is not hard to spot.
Anybody still trying to claim that they think the rules are being applied fairly or in an even handed fashion should be asked to defend that point of view. The onus is no longer on those of us who claim that they are not.
Occam’s Razor states that when you are faced with two competing explanations – in this case, corruption or mere incompetence – the simplest one is the most likely.
If these decisions were spread evenly, which is to say if we were getting as many bad decisions as go against us and if an equal number of bad decisions were falling against the Ibrox club, then you would call this incompetence.
But that’s not the pattern we see.
Something stinks. It stinks very badly.
It is high time a lot of people stop holding their noses and pretending that the smell isn’t there.
That includes people in senior roles at Celtic Park.
The time is now. No more excuses. No more of this.