Yes Celtic Was Denied A Stonewall Penalty Yesterday, But Again, We Got What We Deserved.

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People asked me last night, after I’d posted my final piece on the game, why I never commented on the stonewall penalty we should have had last in the match. My answer to them is the same as I’ll give right now; “What did it matter?” We might have scored it and gone through, but nobody who saw that yesterday could claim we deserved to.

Brendan Rodgers second spell at Celtic will not, ultimately, be defined by his performance or that of his team in the 2023-24 League Cup; trebles are exceptionally hard to win and that’s why I have celebrated every one of the five we’ve gotten in the last seven years and why I reject utterly the media narrative that surrounded those and which will surround Rodgers first failure in domestic terms as the Celtic boss.

But because this game represents a watershed moment, I would rather that it ended in defeat and reflected the reality and significance of this moment than we’d gotten a late penalty, scored it, turned the tie and papered over the cracks. Sometimes a defeat can be far more galvanising than any victory, and I hope to God this is one such example.

The decision is a disgrace for all that, not just that the ref didn’t give it but that nobody in the VAR room thought we had a case. What do you expect? It’s been obvious since VAR was introduced that the Scottish Version was going to be used against us in a way that truly mattered and this was it, just as many people feared that it might be.

It’s not even a surprise far less a shock. That it’s a disgusting call does not mean it came out a clear sky. The moment you saw the names of the “permanent” VAR team you knew how this would go, even if you couldn’t predict the game.

Whereas in England these guys would be made to explain that call and even face sanctions for getting it so badly, badly wrong in Scotland they are more likely to get a pat on the back, the Freedom of Larkhall and the hotseat for the game at Ibrox.

Our club brings this stuff upon itself to a certain extent. Without wanting it to seem as if I’m blaming all the ills of the world on our board today, we all know they tolerate this stuff going on. When you show that kind of weakness you invite this stuff.

Ange Postecoglou was not the sort of manager to complain about it.

Brendan Rodgers, who has seen it all before, had more important things on his mind yesterday. Later on in the week, as we face the league game against St Johnstone, he must address it.

This is what we warned about when we pointed out that McInnes was making noise about refs for a very specific reason. Nobody amongst our support saw anything but what we expected to.

If this club won’t heed the warning, we’ll continue to pay the price and that was a Hell of a price we paid yesterday, although the refereeing was the least important problem.

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  • Captain Swing says:

    Any Celtic team which is relying on even-handedness or even basic levels of integrity from members of the Lanarkshire Referees Association isn’t going to get very far. Our successes have always been in spite of the officials and that’s not changing any time soon.m

    We were dire yesterday. Defeats occur and I can cope with them. What annoys me is when a Celtic team lacks any real fight and the management lacks either the wit or the tools to change things.

    • Damian says:

      The VAR official in this particular game (Don Robertson) is a Celtic fan, so far as I’m aware. I know a few people who know him well. He’s not from Lanarkshire. I don’t think Muir is either.

      Looked a poor call to me and I’d like to see it better explained.

      If I was to make an attempt to rationally interpret the decision it might be because Haskabanovic clearly dives and begins his dive before contact is made. The Kilmarnock defender stalls the swing of his leg and doesn’t follow through.

      But, I’m not a ref and I’m not sure whether that squares with the rules. I know there are one or two practising refs who comment here from time to time who might shed light on it.

      My understanding is: if you are fouled and then ‘dive’ (go down, even though it’s not the foul that’s making you go down), the ‘dive’ is irrelevant because the foul came first.

      If you dive and then take contact having done so, the dive trumps the foul. Haskabanovic clearly begins to go down before anyone touches him.

      But, I would accept schooling on this from anyone with up to date reffing experience.

  • John L says:

    I don’t think deserving comes in to it , but a fair crack of the whip would be welcome , we got bullied yesterday and Scott Brown would have been all over them, I miss that steel . Taylor is not thriving under Rodgers system even tho he was assaulted and off the park leading up to their goal, and that was a red card all day long. Too many projects on the park at once. Wake up call indeed and it needs answering this week.

  • brian cavanagh says:

    Hi James

    Good points though I think the focus on the penalties can turn into an easy excuse. After all we know how this goes. And for all the BR obit writers, hark back to his first game in charge first time round? 1-0 defeat to Gibraltar team in Europe. That Celtic team became the invincibles that season. Nobody is dead -and perspective is everything

  • Jimmy R says:

    You are spot on. We got what we deserved. Low risk, conservative football is all about ball retention. It doesn’t cut through opposition defences. Yang (who needs to find studs which allow him to stay upright on plastic pitches) and Haksabanovic tried to riskier football. It didn’t quite come off. If anyone wonders what Hatate brings to the team, it is everything that was missing yesterday.

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    Didnae deserve anythin yesterday. End of imo. Whit happens or disnae happen, players wise next 11 days, will go a long way in tellin where we’re gonnae be.

  • Michael McCartney says:

    The Ibrox mob got one of the cheapest penalties you’ll ever see on Saturday and Celtic denied a stonewaller, nothing changes in Scotland where VAR is just as inconsistent as the referees on the field of play. No surprise there , it is Scotland after all.
    The ex Celtic pundits fell into line to suit their media masters, it doesn’t matter whether we deserved anything from the game or not, a penalty award should have been given.
    I agree with you James it would only have papered over the cracks if we had scored a goal from the spot.
    BR will have to get more cohesion and movement into the way the team is playing, the Board will have to back him in signing a couple of experienced players with a bit of a presence to help the young promising players we have signed. McGregor and Hart were the only two players of that type on the park yesterday and at the moment they are struggling a bit with their own form.
    Yesterday was a big disappointment but the priorities this season are the League and being in Europe after Christmas, at the moment this looks like a hard task. Brendan and his coaching staff will have get this team firing on all cylinders very quickly or big questions are going to be asked by the fans.

  • Scott Campbell says:

    ‘I would rather that it ended in defeat and reflected the reality and significance of this moment than we’d gotten a late penalty, scored it, turned the tie and papered over the cracks’

    Sorry James, i can never agree with that statement. I cannot for the life of me, as much as i understand your anger regarding the performance yesterday, see why you’d rather we got beat and put out of a cup, potentially handing them across the city a trophy, instead of getting a penalty that we were 100 percent due, and maybe going on to turn the tie around. Yes, we need the wake up call, but that performance yesterday, even if we sneaked it in the end, should be wake up call enough.

  • SSMPM says:

    The complete lack of critical assessment lately has led us to the acceptance of the unacceptable. Playing kids with talent that needs development isn’t going to progress us much at all in the here and now and overcome the bias that’s out there. It’s always been the case that have to win well to overcome the authority’s ability to prevent us. Always and it’s not going to happen with this growing crop, that are just not ready. Acceptance of that position/model is even worse.
    We need and have needed developed talent with experience to strengthen and progress the 1st team, clear as day. Doing everything on the cheap with underdeveloped, not ready yet, players is shafting us all and selling the fans short. Some of these bhoys are just not ready so blame can’t lie with them. But we know where it does, it’s with the, ‘ah we’ll be okay’ yes men.
    The only vision at this club again appears to be is the banking of incoming money ahead of everything including what’s on the field. Jeopardising and backward stepping only highlights the past failings and is no model for current and future progress. HH

  • Bunter says:

    Fair comment James. A lot of us are sick of our so called board representatives sitting on their hands and saying nothing week after week while horrendous decisions are made against the team, From the chairman to the youngest supporter, everyone at Celtic should be screaming about the double standards and blatant bias in Scotland. Or are the board just going to sit at the back of the bus and keep quiet like nice little fenians? I know we didn’t deserve anything from the game, but we did deserve the penalty. So sick of watching biased refereeing on a weekly basis.

  • Michael Clark says:

    I don’t always agree with what James Forrest writes in his columns and often my opinion doesn’t get printed. However lets see if this one does. He’s said this result is maybe not a bad thing and had Celtic managed a late equaliser or got the penalty claim to take the game into extra time, it was only going to paper over the cracks. He’s got this absolutely spot on, Celtic have got Champions league shortly and their not nearly ready. If Kilmarnock can cause Celtic as much problems as this, then going into Europe with this type of form is heading for disaster. Celtic yesterday were woefull to say the least and we can’t blame the pitch as Brenden Rogers suggested because we’ve played on it many times nor can we look for an easy way out looking for a penalty claim. Rogers has also said we need transfers in before the window closes. I know we have injuries to key players and I have no doubt the lose of Jota is apparent but the performance yesterday reminded me of the Celtic team that Neil Lennon left us with. Disjointed and clueless with no game plan, Celtic huffed and puffed fot 90 minutes and could have played another 90 minutes and not scored. The players themselves have said Rogers approach is totally different to Postecoglou and their having problems ajusting to this!!!! Why change a winning team that won the treble last year. There’s an old clique ” IF ITS NOT BROKEN DON’T FIX IT”. It may be that Brenden Rogers is trying to reinvent the wheel and we haven’t got time for that.

    • James Forrest says:

      First, Michael, I’m not aware of having not published any of your posts.

      There ARE some people who DO NOT get published, ever, but I didn’t think you were one of them.

      You’re right about reinventing the wheel mate … but that’s the thing; Ange wanted a wheel, but maybe it’s not a wheel that Rodgers wants or needs, and we can’t ask him to come in here and play another man’s team in another man’s way, we could have hired any number of managers if we wanted a cut and paste of Ange’s style of play, and that wouldn’t have worked because only Ange knows properly where all the pieces fit.

      Like it or not, any new manager was always going to have his own ideas, and to a certain extent we were always in a place where the most likely scenario would be ripping it up and starting again. It’s just the way this stuff works.

  • Johnno says:

    I get that about the cheating officials, made only worse since the introduction of VAR.
    But it remains a lame excuse all the same, especially after that disgraceful performance yesterday.
    Good and great celtic team’s have played a style of football that’s fast, free flowing and creating goal scoring opportunities at will.
    In turn, it took the cheating officials out of the equation on far more occasions than not, when defeats could be looked upon as not taking the opportunity’s created moreso than making a cheating official relevant.
    We left that to the Hun scum to make them dependable upon such cheats, isn’t that what hun culture is all about?
    Cheating, lying with bitterness.
    Yesterday, we still started with 8 players who have been around the Scottish game long enough to know how it works, with enough upon the bench, that have seen first hand the cheating that goes on within Scottish football, along with that shite excuse of a pitch.
    Only 4 players were used to experience that yesterday, so again all lame excuses.
    Overall there should have been plenty there, and was, from a treble winning team, that most played there part in achieving, to be able to oversee kille at that kip.
    What we got in return was a nothing of a performance, that deserved nothing from the game, which we truly deserved.
    The philosophy Ange set has been torn up already and replaced by this couldn’t care less attitude, with only the newer members of the squad showing a bit of endeavour, which is another disgrace.
    I have defended the return of Rodgers, as believed he could actually take us further in European football than Ange?
    Possibly have to rethink that opinion now after yesterday, but the blame for yesterday rests at Rodgers door, and many of the players need to look at themselves also.
    Bad defeats happen in football, and it’s the response that counts now, and everyone within Celtic better know that what happened in the 10iar season hasn’t been forgotten and a repeat won’t be tolerated either.

  • SSMPM says:

    It was a penalty so we certainly did not get what we deserved.
    We all needed the wake up call that shabbles provided. True. We really need this board to know, we need to let them know, between now and in particular the St Johnstone match, that their performance is not anywhere near good enough.
    It is they that are apparently providing the planning and scouting. Their resultant signing of young bhoys only is massively impacting negatively on the team.
    It shouldn’t be that difficult given our resources but penny pinching is our problem, cheap penny pinching from cheap penny pinchers that only have one aspect of Celtic FC as their focus. So much for Brendan’s big budget for transfers we’ve only spent the profit from the Jota transfer money and nothing else.
    Any footballing fan, man and woman, can see and do a better job than them on the footballing front.
    I’m embarrassed by that yesterday and in particular by them. I am, as a proud fan, gonna get dogs’ abuse from people I don’t deserve too as a result of their actions and inactions. Resign or rapidly improve your performance before this window closes. HH

  • John S says:

    The bias of officials is something the Board will have to take up strongly, repeatedly until all clubs are happy with the selection process and selectors.

  • Thomas Daly says:


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