In a tight title race, or in a major cup match, one of the very last things you want is for there to be the slightest doubt that the officials are going to play with a straight bat.
Now, because of events at our own club I would prefer to focus on that subject this week but the simple fact is that refereeing in Scotland is a subject we cannot ignore. Especially now.
This weekend saw a number of bizarre decisions, but only if you don’t know how things work here.
The free kick Hearts scored their second goal from is a travesty of a call; that’s not a foul in a hundred years. Our lack if physicality is exploited routinely now by teams who know they can get away with subjecting us to the rough-housing treatment whilst every 50/50 challenge we make is punishable by a free kick or a booking.
Remember, officials do not have to be dishing out red cards or giving penalty kicks to influence a game. That’s just one of the misunderstandings which have brought Scottish football to this sorry pass, and one that needs acknowledging.
Aberdeen published their match-report on their website this morning and it was scathing about the officiating. This is so typical of what clubs, including our own, do.
If you’ve watched the highlights – about all I could stomach even as a writer trying to examine a story – you’ll see that if we’re going by the standard of refereeing support (I make no bones about using that word) that Ibrox has gotten over the past two months that the pull on the Aberdeen jersey in the box is a penalty kick. Just using those which Ibrox has had as the benchmark, it’s a stonewaller … but neither the ref nor VAR has given it.
At some point, don’t clubs get to the point where they just won’t do this anymore? Don’t they get to the point where they see that the only way forward is to get together and fight this stuff?
It doesn’t matter if what they believe in is that “you don’t get decisions in Glasgow” or if they think that this really comes down to just bog-standard officials … sooner or later, don’t you start wondering what solutions there are? Don’t you start thinking it’s time for them?
If Aberdeen really do believe they’ve been done out of silverware by bad officiating why are they limiting their response to a couple of lines in a match report?
If Celtic are really concerned that there are obvious patterns here, and not just actually laughing behind the scenes in the way they are doing in public, then what are they prepared to do about it?
Does this need to cost us silverware too before we take it seriously? When does this board stop patting itself on the back and actually get proactive in defending us from this garbage?
If there isn’t a full proposal on how to reform refereeing in this country sitting in a desk drawer somewhere at Parkhead, whether at the level of a university thesis or an actual officially commissioned report from professionals, then we really do have people sleeping at the wheel.
Other clubs must have thought about this. I know that fans of every description have.
So when do clubs get real, get together and present those proposals to the media and the supporters and start lobbying their fellow directors?
That’s how change happens, and if we’re not going to do it we deserve everything we get and so do the rest of the sides in this league.