Every now and again you get a horrible, horrible story in the newspapers about some poor sod who goes to their doctor with a problem, gets handed a handful of pills, goes home, takes them as prescribed and then winds up in hospital, or worse, because the doctor treated their complaint as a minor ailment and tried to cure a symptom instead of the underlying condition.
It is easy to miss a disease by focussing on a symptom.
When it comes to what ails Scottish football the media wants us to focus on the technology rather than on those who are operating it, but Celtic must not be blind-sided by what the real issues are.
I think VAR will still do us good. I think in terms of showing up the incompetence of officials in a way that leaves not the slightest of doubt it has already served the game reasonably well.
But only if people draw the right conclusions from that.
VAR itself is a symptom.
The dire standard of officiating we allow, whether the result of them being useless or being biased, is the larger issue.
Figuring out why they give some of the decisions they do is a different problem. The officials themselves need to be focussed on, and if we do that then we stand a chance of figuring out what to do next.
Kevin Clancy is getting it in the neck today.
Willie Collum was last week.
How long do you think before these guys, who have, in effect, had their basic competence questioned, get their next game at Celtic Park or Ibrox or maybe even Hampden?
No matter how badly these guys screw up, no matter how blatantly, they and others like them get handed big game after big game after big game. So where is their incentive to improve their performance?
Bad players get dropped.
Bad managers get sacked.
Oftentimes, players and managers pay a high price for the awful decisions made by officials.
What happens to the officials?
They get a pat on the head, told that people make mistakes, and then they are handed the next televised showpiece in the league or cup.
That’s self-defeating stupidity, and it’s why things never get better.
In some ways, this is the upside of Celtic getting decisions motivating people to care, at last. Because you get the feeling that the only way something will get done is if we keep on getting decisions. Then it might actually provoke some questions.
There is an easy way to resolve this and there always has been.
Even easier than having officials declare their allegiances … that has always been a means-to-an-end.
Because Scotland would still need a cadre of top refs to handle these big games, and if refs declared their football allegiances there would be precious few of them left. Which is why the ultimate answer needs to be bigger than that.
The real solution is to take refereeing out of the hands of the SFA.
Bring in foreign refs until we get our act together, and promote good per-game rates for officials, but only if they meet the right standard. There is no secret about what the needed reforms are … it’s just that the will to do it isn’t there yet.
But that’s where the focus should be. For every club, not just ours. If you think your club is “cheated when it comes to Glasgow” you’re on our side. So start to act like it and start lobbying your club to change it.