In terms of the officiating, yesterday went exactly as we had feared that it would and it almost had a an impact on the result of the game.
John Beaton’s decision to give a penalty to the Ibrox club is at least debatable, although when Kris Boyd himself is arguing that it’s not actually a spot kick you wonder if we’re through the looking glass and into one of those parallel realities which are usually the province of the rabid Ibrox fan base itself.
On the Connor Goldson handball, there ought not to be the least debate in any corner of the land. Beaton’s decision not to give it, and Collum’s decision to support that by not even asking him to come and look at the TV pictures, is the sort of indefensible outrage that ought to put these people under real scrutiny. But that’s clearly not going to happen.
There are two reasons why it is not going to happen, and the first of them is that Celtic itself clearly has no intention of speaking out on this until there are clear consequences. I cannot articulate enough how angry that makes me. It is momentously stupid. The officials could have cost us points yesterday, and this title race could be wide open.
I am torn about our club at times like this. I know we try to operate behind the scenes, and I am sure we made our feelings known before yesterday and almost certainly afterwards. But it’s not enough because the PR battle is being fought in public and that’s where Celtic’s response needed to be before now, and certainly where it should be today.
The second reason it that the people who should be doing the scrutinising are not remotely interested in doing so. Some of them are afraid to leap into a debate like this because their own colleagues have characterised it as fit only for conspiracy theorists.
I’m sorry, but that’s an abrogation of responsibility. When you are witnessing such a clear pattern as this are you really going to stay silent because drawing attention to it would have you dismissed as a crank? That’s gutless. If you can see the pattern then you’re not a crank at all, are you? It’s those who are wilfully not looking who are the suspect ones.
Anyway, the other side is not shy about getting its point across.
Ex-refs, like Stuart Dougal, are being drafted onto the airwaves to defend the decision. Rulebooks are being scoured for the merest justification for it. And as with what happened over the Livingston “offside goal”, we’re losing the argument because these “alternative theories” are getting the mainstream coverage.
But if we had commented we’d be currently riding the wave of headlines. It is simply bad from a PR standpoint to cede the whole of the public sphere to the opposition. Let them get their version of events across and you might as well pack it in.
That we’ve decided on silence whilst a notorious anti-Celtic ex-official defends this disgrace is absolutely appalling. You cannot have failed to notice the number of ex-Ibrox players who are also being asked to weigh in. As neutrals, of course.
It’s no wonder we’re getting pulverised here. We’ve basically decided on a policy of letting ourselves get hit over and over again and not responding because we haven’t been knocked out. It’s a masochism strategy; how much of this can Celtic take before they crack? How much will the club absorb before those above the manager start asking public questions?
Public questions are the key here. Those decisions were watched by a vast TV audience and almost everyone in that audience knows exactly what it was that they saw. Celtic raising the issue puts these people on the defensive instead of the offensive, which is where they are right now and where, to be frank, they are making mugs of us.