Celtic Fans Know The Most Important Thing About VAR. It’s Not Working.

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There is a West Wing episode which I particularly enjoy. It’s one of the “Josh centred” ones, where we follow the deputy chief of staff for much of the running time as he tries to convince a Democratic senator named Chris Carrick to cease blocking military promotions. Carrick will grant his request, but he wants something in return; an anti-ballistic missile shield system.

The only problem is that it doesn’t work. It has never worked and they have no way of making it work. Carrick counters that just building it is enough to demonstrate to the Russians and Chinese that America is serious about defending itself, and besides, you never want it to work because you would never want to have to use it.

But Josh counters with the obvious; if you’re going to spend a lot of money on a new technology, you do want it to actually work. You want it to do what it’s designed for. Otherwise, as he succinctly puts it, you might as well give him the money for a toaster that doesn’t make toast.

I wanted VAR to work. God knows I did. I wrote about my hopes for it, and how it would take out of play any number of the “honest mistakes.” Besides, the clubs were spending big money on it and there was little point in doing that just to put the same brainless dolts who have been refereeing games in Scotland this whole time in charge of it.

Other people told me it would go this way. They saw more clearly than I did that there was something rotten about the whole concept, and that far from giving us a fair shake that it would turn out to be something we deeply regretted supporting.

And now it dawns on me; maybe it was never supposed to work.

Maybe it was enough just to build it.

Hell, it now seems clear that the SFA never actually wanted to use it in the way it was meant to function. The point was to make it look like we were taking a giant leap forward in our game so that the people running it would not have to do any real or meaningful reform in the areas that mattered; better refs from neutral backgrounds, proper training and accountability.

That seems so obvious now that I don’t know how it escaped my attention for as long as it did. I should have picked up on that right away, and it’s taken until now for the penny to drop. I feel like an idiot. But the con-job was a good one, at first glance anyway.

All of that is over now.

This technology is a scourge on the game, on both sides of the border. In some ways the SFA is lucky that it’s been a disaster down south. Because that takes some of the heat off them. But in some ways, they’re unlucky too; when you see the carnage it has wrought in England and the backlash against it, that reduces the odds of it being used too far into the future. People down there hate it. If there was a vote to get rid of it, that vote would go through.

What’s become evident in Scotland is that it’s being used by the same old people in service of the same old agenda. It’s been in place for more than a year now, and it hasn’t spotted a single incident in a league game involving the Ibrox club which justifies a penalty against them? Really? Is that credible? But they just keep piling up at the other end for Tavernier to put away. How are we meant to look at that and conclude other than it’s business as usual?

Except it’s worse than that now. The decision given at Ibrox last week against Hearts would never have been given before VAR, so VAR was weaponised for a day to make sure they got some sort of result. And then you see the way it has been used against us; every goal we score gets a second and then a third look.

Do we get equal treatment? The odd decision falls for us, yes, but if you ask Celtic fans what they think of it they’ll tell you that most think it’s being used against us and they’d be right because it is. Most Celtic fans would vote to get rid of it.

Some of those decisions yesterday were a disgrace. The technology itself works just fine. But in the wrong hands, almost anything can be used counter to its intended function and this is no different, and you only needed to look at the names to see it.

Andrew Dallas for God’s sake?

We wouldn’t have trusted him out on the pitch with a whistle in his gob, so why would we trust him sitting in the VAR box scrutinising every major call, and with the ability to penalise stuff that his colleague doesn’t catch? Why would we expect VAR to function fairly when this guy is at the helm, and we know he wouldn’t give us a drop of his piss if we were dying of thirst? The family name is the giveaway if nothing else has convinced you.

And you can see how this is going to go. When the likes of Beaton are done as refs this will be their gig, and so on and on it will go, perpetuating this cycle; the Lanarkshire Referees Association, still running things, still promoting The Brethren to do their worst.

We are not alone in believing that VAR has failed. Even Neil McCann, who doesn’t believe in conspiracy theories, recognises that the SFA is running this the way they run everything else; like a little closed shop, a little cabal answerable to nobody and he wants to see it more transparent. When its obvious to someone like that it’s obvious to everyone.

As long as people like Maxwell can point at VAR and say “Look! We’ve introduced new features! We are a progressive association after all!” they don’t need to do much else. I mean, look at the rule changes in England which have introduced the new time added on … there’s no earthly reason why the SFA could not introduce that here, and the stated reasons – that nobody wants to sit through 100 minutes instead of 90 – are preposterous.

The truth is, when a team is playing against Celtic and puts eleven men behind the ball, and wastes every second they can, the SFA doesn’t want that being nixed because every one of those wasted seconds gets given back to us after the 90 minutes are up. They see this as a leveller and they would rather persevere with the system we have now.

That’s a genuine reform to how the game is officiated, one that would grant us some basic fairness and punish strategies which depend on running down the clock. There’s no reason not to do that, except that it would advantage us too much. That it would also give Ibrox the same opportunity matters less because they don’t need that advantage when the officials will never award spot kicks against them and can always be relied on to throw one their way.

That Dallas with that colourful family history even has a gig as an official is disgusting. That Beaton can get massive games involving us and the Ibrox club when everyone knows his affiliations astounds me. Those two should be nowhere near Celtic games but there they are, as if we don’t know what they are. But that’s not a secret anywhere in Scottish football.

So much of our game labours under pretence and make believe. That’s just one part of it. But the greatest make believe now is VAR itself, and the very idea that it has made the game better. Even if you don’t accept bias you’re still left with the same people running the show whose mistakes made VAR seem like such a good idea in the first place … and guess what? Instead of making less critical errors they’ve multiplied.

This is a failed experiment. Celtic fans, more than anyone, know that it just hasn’t worked, not to level the playing field anyway, not to make things fairer or better across the sport. This is just another means of screwing up … and screwing us over.

Celtic should be voting to rid ourselves of this nightmare as quickly as we possibly can. I daresay that other clubs would be happy to join us at this point.

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  • bertie basset says:

    as bad as side show bob was , he had at leastthe ambition to leave scottish football in order to work his way up the ranks and get recoginized in europe where the elite referees partake , unlike cheatin beaton , walsh , duckass and a few more in scotland who will never amount to nothing , just part of a bent cabal of cheats , their cheating will keep the new sevco manager in a job for a while just like beale ,
    my english son in law was visiting when i turned on the sevco match against hearts and they were one down 79 th minute , when i saw beatons big red mutton head i cried out ” cheatin beaton ” he said to me who is he ? i said one of the most bent referees in scotland , i said watch the game , he and duckass will pull a rabbit out of the hat for sevco yet , ny son in law was gobsmacked when it ended 2 1 to sevco , it’s the norm i said ,

  • Michael M says:

    Hasn’t anyone spotted the two handed shove on Kyogo as a cross came in towards him in the penalty area?

    I cant recall at what point in the game but somewhere in the second half.

    Absolutely astonishing to witness and strange that no one else seems to have seen it.

  • BhilltheTim says:

    As I’ve said before, I think VAR is doing a great job; it’s showing conclusively how god-awful the refereeing is in this country. The question now is, what are the clubs (Celtic in particular) going to do about it?

  • William Melvin says:

    I gotta disagree with you on this ,James.
    You actually identified the problem and instead of prescribing the medication to make it better you want to euthanize it.
    Get unbiased officials to operate the bloody system and then we might have a chance of having something resembling an honest game in Scotland as they may be able to temper some of the more ludicrous decisions that has plagued our game for decades.
    The real problem we have is a board of directors ensconced at Celtic Park who will be dragged screaming to their graves defending their “Old Firm Franchise” before they will try to change the status quo.
    They see it as the only way that the zombies from G51 can stay relevant and thus keep the mug punters buying up their merchandise.
    The whole of Scottish Football needs a root and branch clear out and so does Celtic FC,starting with the shit golfer who calls the shots and his bag man who hasn’t a clue how to get out of a bunker(metaphorically speaking)as he keeps buying lots of new but usually useless clubs for our manager to stockpile in a darkened cupboard.
    It bothers them not that the Huns would stick a hosepipe in our mouth while we were in the process of drowning but they bend over for their ceremonial arsefucking ritual every year as our managers and players hoover up the domestic honours in spite of these parasites rather than because of them.
    The only problem being, that the Celtic support are forced to witness the unsavoury spectacle.
    They would have been forcibly removed if it hadn’t been for the success of the team because there’s no way our support would put up with how the covid season played out every year.
    We,as a support,deserve all we get for putting up with this shitshow…….and we reckon the Sevco supporters are thick ???
    Give me strength !!

  • Gerry says:

    Celtic should just refuse to pay their share if you want it you pay for it .The sfa would have a fit and scrap it ASAP the tramps

  • Roonsa says:

    Celtic fans need to stop moaning about this and put more pressure on the Celtic board to address this issue. There’s no point keeping on raising this point with the hun friendly media. It’s pissing into the wind.

    There has to be a cleverer way of doing this. If we perpetuate the “it’s a conspiracy” rhetoric then it will never fly. How can there be a conspiracy if Celtic keep on winning?

    This is how they operate in England (taken from

    Keith Hackett – the former head of Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), the organisation that makes refereeing appointments for Premier League games – has said: “At the beginning of every season the referees’ background information is audited.

    “They complete a form that includes who they support, the history of if they’ve played the game and with the addresses where they are residing.

    “That gives you a picture that comes into use when you’re appointing. It’s about ensuring, for example, you wouldn’t appoint a Sheffield-based ref for a Sheffield team.”

    It’s not rocket science. Celtic. It’s time to call sporting integrity into question once again. The stakes are now too high not to.

    • Paul Mac says:

      Problem with this is whether the REAL information would be passed. Whether the Lanarkshire brethren would be completely HONEST in disclosing the details of their members. One way could be adopting the UEFA idea but expanding it completely throughout Europe. For example week 1 English matches are reffed by German refs , German matches by Spanish etc … Week 2 English by French French by Italian etc … no collusion no “bias” as no ref has “skin in the game” would be easy but unfortunately can’t see it ever happening. As an aside here in Portugal they are ALWAYS complaining about decisions given for and against the big 3 .. the VAR here when the lines are drawn ..and it’s a technician not the VAR ref who does it … they include the distance so yesterday we would have seen if Daizen was 5 or 55 cm offside …

  • John L says:

    Like you, I thought VAR would put a stop to the cheating, because everyone would see it, it would be right there and we would scrutinies it, but no no no, we are up against a system that is lawless and doesn’t actually care who sees it. It is costing people their jobs, their livelihoods, even punters who bet Celtic 5-0 6-0 7-0 ect ect ect. I just want the club to say enough is enough before it costs us a cup final or heven forbid the league.

  • Scud Missile says:

    Every week now it sounds like a broken down record or put it another way groundhog day all over again.
    The same honest mistakes in our own game week in week out,the same refs and officials on VAR making the same honest mistakes only in our game,but yet these same decisions going against us sevco seem to get in their favour from hhe same refs and VAR officials,you couldn’t make it up.
    And when you have a BIGOT and someone as BIAS as McCann calling it out then you really have problems, because that’s a guy that goes about with BLINKERS on.

  • Martin says:

    VAR is here to stay. UEFA loves it. It reduces simulation and punishes dangerous tackles, so should reduce the incidences of injuries over time. You’ll never see a ref get a top gig coming from a league without it going forward. It’s obviously the crap cheap one here operated by idiots, but that’s on the SFA and its jobs for the boys approach to the game.

    If we went down the PGMOL route with a private cohort of professional refs we would increase accountability and standards. Generally I’m against privatisation, but in this area I’m in favour. The obvious thing is to get involved with PGMOL and share staff cross border so we don’t only have Scottish refs in the pool. Also helps our refs with training access and the experience of games down south. It wouldn’t be perfect, and there are issues around standardising comma and the way they use it for offside that need ironed out, but reform rather than repeal is the only option.

  • Bob (original) says:

    If CFC was to simply withdraw its support and funding for VAR,

    and encourage all the other clubs to do the same,

    then the members of the SFA Referees’ Association will

    – eventually – never get another gig outside Scotland again.

    No European club games, no internationals, no Euros, no WC.

    It seems that the only stakeholders who need VAR,

    are the match officials themselves?

    Is that the only big stick we have…?

  • Young Cronkite says:

    One goal ruled out for minimal contact at a contested header, it is not a foul. Second goal ruled out for offside,both players levell. No conclusive angle shown,Therefore impossible to call with any confidence.Anyone thinking Jotas goal at Motherwell.Scandallous incompetent decision making.Stinks to high heaven. No Celtic fans surprised.Brendan has started to speak out,no one likes being cheated. We should seriously be thinking about withdrawing our support for this sham. Withdraw any financial support we have commited to a scheme being used to scrutinise every goal we score. Sevco 66 league games without conceding a penalty.

  • Olly says:

    I think VAR can work, but it needs to be outsourced. Away from the SFA, it’s stooges and ‘honest mistake ‘ brotherhood.
    What the ref and lines men/women is saying needs to be heard, what the VAR official is saying needs to be heard in real time. All decisions must be explained, maybe on a live stream online as those decisions are made.
    The technology is not perfect but will improve.
    Can you always blame the hammer for a black finger nail?

  • John Copeland says:

    When we in Scotland are given the cheapest 50 bob version of VAR with less cameras and thus less and more obscure angles to work with coupled with obviously biased officials monitoring the system , there is going to be utter dishonour every single week . Now the SFA/SPFL know about this ,in fact big slapsie Maxie admitted it himself in a recent interview ,where no one asked him ….why ? Why do we have the low cost , out of date technology Mr Maxwell ,I was hoping to hear in questioning from a scoop ….alas nothing ! So until we get equal billing in the concert of European football ,these ‘honest mistakes ‘ shall happen again and again and again and again ! Obviously our money too is not worth what other nations’ money is worth …….

    • Margherita says:

      After the League Cup Final of 1986, when Celtic were cheated out of winning against Rangers by the Referee, the then Celtic manager Davie Hay said Celtic should leave Scottish Football and join English Football even at the bottom level. I wrote to Davie Hay supporting what he had said, the gentleman that he is he wrote back and thanked me for my support. Can you imagine what level Celtic would be at now if the Celtic Board had taken that route!

  • Robert says:

    I am sick to death of this blatant cheating cast upon all but the peeples eleven. VAR is a nonsense when employed by officials with an ( proven ) agenda that conspires against the very rationale of its existence. Scottish football will forever be condemned to inhabiting a backwater that is held back from entering the football mainstream whilst those running the circus promulgate their own ideals to the detriment of all but one favoured club established in 2012. TRANSPARENCY is prerequisite for a democratic state of affairs to exist and subsequent to such being achieved, justice must not only be done in real terms, BUT must also be seen to be done in real time. VAR in practice could and should have been the arbiter of transparency in the Scottish game instead it is being bent out of shape and foisted upon us in an ever more irrational fashion. Yesterday,celtics Oh was in full view of the officials battling with three Ross County players for the ball in a scene akin to a condemned man being dragged to the gallows, Bernardo steps in to take the ball and is deemed to have commited a foul which is duly given. This decision, in full view was pathetic in the extreme, it is decisions like this that are, and have been, homogenously applied by various officials historically on an ad hoc basis. There is no hiding place anymore for this democratic deficit being enacted arbitrarily by bent officials, its revealed live on tv right there in our living rooms and yet they continue on shamelessly in their endeavours regardless of any criticisms or inquiry. Punditry and press collude in this pathetic farce and are as guilty as those they protect and are in fact the enablers of the practice being deemed normal to a numbed audience who after many years of being spoon fed their pish expect nothing better. Its time now that football is given back to those without agendas to push in their vainglory, before their narrow mindedness condems Scottish football to eternal medoicrity bereft of any meaningfull competition and thus unto death.

  • Andrew Heaney says:

    Celtic should just stop paying the £160,000 a year or whatever it is until they bring in someone neutral, from another country, to run VAR

  • Johnno says:

    Sorry James, but VAR is working perfectly?
    You even highlighted it yourself in the article.
    The reason why, is just how its used, to keep the Scottish game as dirty and corrupt as it always was, and even more so now.
    There was never “Honest Mistakes” within Scottish football, just blatant cheating, so let’s get that right from the off.
    The same still exists, and yet on a far higher level.
    This only highlights the level of corruption that still exists within the Scottish game?
    What still amazes myself, in this techno world we live in, is how there hasn’t been enough done to highlight the issue, with a name and shame policy in operation, and the video evidence that for all to see?
    The issue is “Interpretation” and how corrupt it remains in how they cheat in coming to the conclusion upon the decision awarded?
    It’s common knowledge now, that throwing yourself to the ground, results in a free kick against a Celtic player, yet the complete opposite for the scum player, upon the exact same incident?
    Plenty of readily incidents already, from last season, and only worse this season still.
    This surely has to be highlighted more so, with the cheats involved.
    Make the video go viral, so everyone within the footballing world, knows exactly just how corrupt the Scottish game remains with blatant cheating on Interpretation of the rules of the game?
    Moan as much as we like, but nothing has any intention of ever changing either?
    Action needs to be taken, yet we can’t depend upon the board to address it, and never will either.
    The evidence is readily available for all to see, yet not used properly IMO.
    This is an ongoing problem, that started disgracefully from the very first game when it was used, and only continued to get worse?
    Surely there must be a techno Celtic supporting wizz kid, who can make a 5/10min video to highlight the problem of “Interpretation” within VAR and the blatant cheating of its official’s in how its used?

  • Patrick says:

    Watch dallas setting a wall for celtic free kicks when he was ref 8 yards at most every time ,worst cheat of them all

  • Michael McCartney says:

    Like you James I thought VAR would surely stop the “honest mistakes”, how naive
    was I. The very fact that these corrupt dishonest fools were also in charge of VAR, should have rung alarm bells, Scottish football is corrupt because most officials here favour one team and can’t hide it. I’ve also got my suspicions around UEFA’s tournaments, I’ve noticed a pattern emerging of questionable decisions going in favour of the teams in the countries within the 4 richest leagues, with large TV viewing populations.
    They say money corrupts and to me the so called “Beautiful Game” has become a victim of this.
    For UEFA tv rights and advertising revenue have become more important than a level playing field for teams throughout Europe.

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