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A Lot Of People At Celtic Must Have Failed To Forsee The Most Obvious Problem With VAR.

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So what went wrong with VAR in Scottish football? What exactly happened to turn a technology which was supposed to eradicate Honest Mistakes into one where the biases and low-down practices are even more obvious than ever, with barely a word raised against them?

From the beginning, I was in favour of VAR for that exact reason. Even if officials were still giving decisions which were breathtakingly bad, there would be some measure in justice in that clubs would refuse to take it lying down.

When an official on the pitch has two seconds to decide whether an incident is a foul or not, mistakes will be made. For those high-profile incidents which can change games it seemed smart to be able to take another look at them.

Because if a decision is blatantly, unforgivably wrong, how can anyone justify it if they’ve more than a split second to make it? Surely, I thought, there will be refs who will end up never officiating in Scotland again, once it because obvious what’s up?

None of that has happened. Things have gotten worse.

We’re in the “second penalty to Ibrox” phase already, and that’s not where we were supposed to be. And it strikes me, late in the day, and a lot of other people with me, something that was obvious to a lot of our fans from the first, and they deserve the credit for seeing this clearly.

Years ago, I read a comment by Warren Buffet that lodged in my brain and hasn’t moved since. He was talking about a fellow executive, Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, who was then in legal peril with the regulators.

Buffet famously said, “If a cop follows you for 500 miles, you’re going to get a ticket … You’ve had a lot of cops that have been following him for a long time.”

And that’s what people saw VAR doing.

It put a permanent cop on our tail, and that of any club playing Ibrox. We’re being followed every mile we crawl up the highway. “You can’t be active in a big business without making some mistakes, and sometimes they may be big ones,” Buffet said during the same interview. And that’s true for any player on the pitch.

Each of them will make a mistake in a game, with a poorly timed tackle, or an obstruction, or an instinctive moment of jersey-grabbing or whatever it might be … refs sometimes see these things and let them go, understanding that they are innocuous and that football is a contact sport and that there has to be some contact in it from time to time.

But now we have a permanent cop on our tail, we are subject to punishment for every single one of those incidents which rises to the level where VAR can intervene.

Every major incident involving us is scrutinised in the minutest detail for the slightest thing for which they can call foul. Every single one. That’s why there’s a VAR review of every goal we score, some of them not allowing fans to celebrate properly. They will rule them out for the slightest cause.

And the same applies whenever the Ibrox club plays, where the job of the guys in the VAR room seems to be finding something that can advantage them. This is why “waiting for an Ibrox penalty” has now morphed into “waiting for their second penalty.”

All of which convinces me that we’re not going to see this get better, but worse. It’s only progressing in one direction, towards a situation so intolerable it makes us all long for the days when we had Hugh Dallas refereeing our games whilst popping off sectarian emails to all and sundry. When the likes of Kenny Clark wandered smirking through the halls of Hampden.

The thing is, this is not like it was before. VAR is an optional technology which we pay for, and because it’s so expensive there has long been the suspicion that we’re paying more than other clubs for it. That’s where we should draw the line.

All this technology has done is grant officials the power to find things to use against us, that’s what its greatest selling point is to the rest of the clubs and the rest of the league, and they have their own reasons for hating it.

It’s worth noting that in the year we’ve had it, the number of major decisions that fall in favour of Ibrox has skyrocketed, whilst at the same time it has not found a single reason to penalise them with a penalty kick in the league.

The cop sitting on their tail hasn’t found one infringement when they’re defending their penalty box in all that time?

Credible? I don’t think so. I really don’t. It stinks. Celtic cannot let this go on. Rodgers was right to say that it’s turned Scottish football into a computer game, he’s right to say that it belongs in the bin. I hope to God he’s speaking for the board.

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  • John S says:

    VAR is certainly being misused in a biased way. In most cases this is known before kick-off by the naming of match officials.

  • BroxburnBhoy says:

    The obvious issue here is that if we scrap VAR then we are back at the mercy of the same people who interpret VAR today actually doing the same in real time on the field of play. If officials are corrupt then they are corrupt both with and without technology. This will not be solved by having VAR or not having VAR. This is a matter of unbiased human interpretation of what they see and how they respond based on the rules. Recruiting and training unbaked professional referees is the answer.

    • Brian says:

      Exactly what I was going to say here, they may well be doing this on purpose to get back to using corrupt officials, and the old honest mistake brigade. As long as we have the old firm lover (lawwell) at our club this will continue.

  • paul obrien says:

    While we are turning a good balance sheet nothing else counts

  • Bob (original) says:

    Alternatively, perhaps we are just at the end of Stage I of VAR implementation?

    We have had VAR for almost a year now.

    Yes, technical mistakes / delays were expected. An initial period of tweaking the

    way VAR is operated was required, and decision making needed to be quicker.

    Now we’re at Stage II: dealing with the ‘inconsistencies’.

    Every game it seems, there are bewildering decisions, or decisions which are just not

    taken, or fouls which may – or may not be yellow cards, and fouls which may –

    or may not be red cards, etc.

    The match officials and the VAR officials are now under the spotlight.

    And at this point, it’s either the officials are forced to improve,

    or we bin VAR…and we might as well bin the game as inherently corrupt with no

    leadership to drive change and improvement.

    This is the point when OUR Board has to stand up and do the right thing.

    It has to push for improvement of VAR, by improvement amongst the officials.

    Our Board has no choice: it has to speak up, and as the biggest club in Scotland

    it has to lead by example.

    And if any of the Board members still feel ‘compromised’ by events around ibrox

    in 2012, then they should just p!ss off now.

  • Damian says:

    Celtic and Rangers have had the same number of penalties awarded this season. Neither has had a penalty awarded against them.

    Celtic have had one more booking than Rangers so far (interesting, given that the year on year pattern is that Rangers players are booked far more often than Celtic players – 17 more last season).

    Alan Morrison’s Yorkshire Whistler series is an interesting one to dig deep on. In the YW’s view there have been virtually no obviously poor decisions since the World Cup break. The Celtic by Numbers ‘honest mistake’ calculation (based around incidents referred by a Celtic fan who wasn’t at the game, to a neutral ref who hasn’t watched the whole game) is narrowly in Celtic’s favour.

    • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

      Interesting anology there Damien and Thank You for posting it…

      However there are three glaring errors in there –

      You mention the word ‘Rangers’ three times…

      I assume it’s not in the context of park attendants –

      Because if it’s in the context of a football club in Glasgow then they are DEAD…

      Rangers FC (deceased c.2012) – I don’t buy the Scottish Media but every publication had it slapped all over their front pages…

      I screenshot all that and got it printed off A4 and pocket sized…

      It’s very handy to flash in the faces of Sevco fans that don’t accept this fact –

      However a Celtic fan like yourself not acknowledging that they are actually Sevco just plays into the hands and dreams of The Scottish Football Media and the majority of Sevco fans in denial !

      • Damian says:

        Granted. Though I don’t find the use of ‘Rangers’ troubling. Sevco Scotland were granted the legal right to use the name by the old club, which remains in liquidation pending a rounding-up order.

  • Damian says:

    Also, all goals are subject to a VAR check. But, I enjoyed watching the team score six of them yesterday and none of them were flagged for particular VAR treatment.

  • John Copeland says:

    If a cop follows you for 500 miles to give you a ticket I guarantee you he will explain in a nice orderly manner why and what for . For me the silence which follows every VAR decision from officials makes it look like there is something to hide ! Why is it so damned difficult for the officials to let everyone know the reasoning behind all VAR decisions ? We all can speak and understand English …. Be vocal to the paying and watching public with all contentious decisions ! Talk to us for Christ sake’s ! The technology is there to be used …use it !

  • Stephen Burns says:

    I would call the Police,ther is a case for letting people know they are being watched,for all we know referees could have a betting ring.There is hard evidence to suggest corruption or something else at play here in Scotland.

  • Tam says:

    As has been said many many times by many many people except the SMSM and the SFA/SPFL and the referees committee (Crawford Allan) VAR is NOT the problem. It’s the cheating grade 1 referees using it. And until those people call out and punish the grade 1 cheats using VAR technology nothing will change…as I’ve said…if the punishment for cheating is NO punishment why stop cheating . The goldson handball excuse made by many was “he was only protecting his face”….so that’s why VAR never called it out…… good god.

  • Johnno says:

    VAR has become a massive problem within the European game, and when it’s a massive issue currently within the richest league of the EPL in Europe and massive viewing on a worldwide basis, only confirms the damage being done to the game overall.
    The use of the technology is the main issue that’s causing so many problems with these so called Interpretation of the rules, which are constantly being changed without much justification and increasing the level of Interpretation within them.
    The whole process needs to be simplified where Interpretation can’t be used as such a weapon.
    Would suggest that if nothing is clear by the eye, within a 10 seconds period then original decision has to stand or be overturned depending upon the incident imo?
    This over analysis and looking for incidents is destroying the game, where decision making can be used by the human eye of the technology provided?
    Scottish football is a totally different issue altogether and always has been with the level of cheating and corruption within the Scottish game.
    Blatant cheating within sports, since I was a child has always a problem, and one in general that the public just don’t buy into, so does far more damage to the sport than good.
    Scottish football remains up there with the worst of them, other sports have made attempts to clean up there acts, yet Scottish football remains proud in keeping the game dirty and rotten to the core still?
    As many of football clubs, and ours included are run as brands more so than football operators, has totally changed the whole model of football, with the amount of money involved within the game today, upon the one I grew up enjoying.
    Being a Celtic supporter we have always had to overcome that cheating process to remains the best and strongest club within Scottish football, and one we remain proud of keeping intact.
    With all that in mind, I can actually understand why our board remains so quiet upon the issue, no matter how infuriating it can remain upon us supporters?
    Reason why?
    I believe it comes down to protecting the Celtic brand, with being still able to overcome the Blatant cheating?
    Is it any wonder as to why businesses don’t really want to associate there names to such a cheating and lying brand that the scum rely and depend upon just to keep a shower of scum relevant?
    Still believe SKY remain the biggest culprits of having the issue as bad as it currently is, especially within Scottish football imo.
    Never watched the scum game yesterday, as rarely do due to the current situation, yet in return we showed how the beautiful game could and should be played.
    Yet we still have to get that fact overshadowed by a disgraceful decision upon kyogo and the rants of a horrible Hun eejit.
    This is the face of Scottish football, for all to see now, and the damage is only increasing to the brand of Scottish football, but ours still manages to increase with been able to overcome the level of corruption, with the success we gain legitimately within it?
    Course it not too our liking, and we are also seeing the supporters of other clubs turning there backs completely upon the game, with the level of farce within it?
    But the scum still need and depend upon such a structure in play, and all without consequences involved either?
    So I wonder, would I remain a Celtic supporter if we had to depend upon such lying, cheating and corruption to remain relevant?
    Possibly not, but the thick gormless Huns do?
    What does that really tell us about the state of Scottish football and those who assist in keeping it this way?
    Sad fucks the lot of them involved, and remain as total losers within society, I would say

  • William says:

    If a very large number of fans of our sport had a bet on a penalty for a certain club the bookies would stop this nonsense

  • Frankie says:

    Johnno our so called board needs to cause havoc it is their duty to look out for their employees, the tackle yesterday on kyogo was nothing short of GBH if they keep letting it go who knows what will happen , it’s about time they grew a pair of balls they are getting good money.

    • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

      Yep – And yesterday’s the day that it should’ve been done Frankie – After a convincing 6-0 win and after that brutal assault on Kyogo the board should be sereaming to the heavens about it…

      But of course they won’t –

      Kyogo will be badly injured in The Glasgow Derby Match by Lundstram and Co. early doors knowing nothing will be done about it…

      That is if a Hun thug (or even a Non Hun thug like yesterday) don’t get to him first big time before The Glasgow Derby…

      Then they’ll be a few mealy mouthed words by these yellow yellow cowards in grey suits –

      Or equally – More than likely not !

    • Johnno says:

      I agree frankie, and never has a better opportunity arisen where cheating Beaton has to be held accountable for his actions.
      The Celtic board are becoming under increasing pressure, some just, some not so imo.
      But if they aren’t prepared to stand up for such valuable assets as kyogo, and whose adored within the Celtic support, then they themselves will have to be held accountable for there actions imo.
      The use of technology within sports have bought into the welfare of the sportsperson into a far higher degree than those of days gone by?
      If this issue is going to remain unchallenged, especially with the individuals involved then serious questions have to be asked?
      Accidental challenge my hole, and if that is not classed as endangering an opponent then I wouldn’t like to see as to what is within Scottish football, not so sure if that applies to huns, but certainly know the outcome of the decision wouldn’t have been the same regardless?

  • Bigbaws says:

    Celtic should employ someone for 1 season. The job will be to look at every sevco gane and every celtic game. Taking down who the ref is and the calls he & VAR make.
    That way, if say Beaton is the ref, and gives a penalty to sevco for handball and then in another game he doesn’t give a penalty against sevvo for the same offence, you can then build up an accurate picture of what is actually going on.
    The SFA and the head of referees can then say ” handball is subjective” when it’s the same ref giving to different outcomes depending on the team.
    It’s the only way things will change

  • SSMPM says:

    Come on James, every goal scored is checked by VAR so play even handedly.
    I understood and accepted Charlie Mulgrew’s explanation for why Celtic didn’t get the penalty in the League Cup game ie that Haksa played for it and if he hadn’t then there would have been a foul committed. The ref and VAR, he explained, would have seen it in that way, in Haksa’s movement and action in bringing on a foul.
    Trouble is that wasn’t explained to us by the ref or VAR officials. That would help eg like in rugby or even tennis, explain the decision.
    So what happened with the rankers first pen yesterday then. Completely different application and understanding of the rules applied and in the absence of an explanation. So VAR seen one way by our fans and used against us and one way for them to their benefit. It was a dive contrived penalty and they gave it to the rankers because they can without any explanation or accountability. The lack of both of these creates the issue of being able to cheat.
    The Celtic board continue to remain silent on such occasions. Letting our fans down.
    However I get the argument that when you’re by far the more dominant team particularly in the penalty box, then you’re more likely to get penalty decisions in your favour, as indeed we have.
    However my glaring problem is highlighted in the fact that no penalties have been given against the rankers in the league in nearly two years and in the number of soft fouls inconsistently given against us compared to those committed, sometimes of an assaulting category, not given or adjudicated against us. For me that stands out alarmingly.
    I say it again be even handed and then our argument is received better. Crying foul on everything only serves to weaken us. Every goal is checked by VAR and let’s face it, it did come to our aid and I still can’t quite believe their goal at the midden was chopped off after VAR scrutiny.
    It’s a work in progress so where’s our board in progressing that. Nowhere. Therein lies an issue. Why I wonder? Why no scrutiny of them James? HH

  • harold shand says:

    The media doing umpteen articles online today about ‘ Debunking Rangers penalty myths ‘

    Whilst them not conceding a league penalty for nearly two seasons

    Really is something ain’t it

  • Tizwalt says:

    Not sure if this message will get through to you but there is an easy solution to var. as we know the var operators do not have to be in the stadium to operate the system. Have the var operators in another country operate it. Ex referees from another nation with no alegencies to any Scottish club.
    We still have Scottish referees on the pitch making the final decisions.

  • Michael McCartney says:

    The biggest problem is the VAR officials being able to decide what incidents to look at, and what not to look at. This gives the cheating Scottish referees lots of opportunities to benefit their favourite team and handicap the team they most dislike. VAR has brought about an epidemic of cheating, Scottish Football is a cesspit of corruption and VAR is making it worse, it has to go but it won’t.

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