The Celtic Penalty Kick Furore Is Another Example Of How Ibrox Looms Over Hampden.

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Neutrals looking in at Scottish football this week will be tempted to think that the game has gone mad and that we’re on the brink of uncovering a major scandal. In fact, we’re not. The scandal has been readily apparent for a long time.

What we’re seeing is cause and effect. Ibrox’s shadow looms over Hampden and it is that which has brought us here.

Last week, I wrote about how Celtic has evolved in the orbit of a corrupt association. There are some who will tell you that the last 48 hours have demolished that claim; in fact, I rather think that the last 48 hours have proved it beyond a shadow of a doubt. It is that corruption, wafting out of the place, which has brought us to this sorry pass.

One of the incidents which has stood out in recent years – and stood out a mile – is when the head of referees went on the radio to explain why a decision had gone the way of Celtic against Hearts. It is one of the only times he has deigned to put himself in front of the media. He did it because he felt he had to. There was pressure on him.

It was the SFA responding to the very idea that they might have done something to our benefit. The thought was so toxic in their eyes that they had to get in front of it.

We all know what Ibrox’s record of not conceding spot kicks is.

We’ve seen the incredible reaction out of that place every time a major decision goes against them. It is remarkable how often the SFA and the media dances to their tune when they have complaints and grievances.

The governing bodies have shown themselves to be gutless when dealing with Ibrox; why? Could it be because of pressure from inside Hampden’s own walls?

My article of last week talked about how a corrupt culture can develop at an organisation, and it happens when everyone inside knows what’s expected of them and harshly moves against anyone who isn’t toeing the line. Did Collum make a mistake at the weekend? I don’t think so, because I don’t think it’s a penalty.

But you can see what the volcanic reaction to it has been not only from Ibrox but its media lackies as well … the very people who have been telling us that refs can be trusted are now casting the gravest doubt on one of them.

And I can’t help but think that it’s because he’s gone against the orthodoxy. He’s gone against all the SFA behavioural norms. He has given a critical decision against them in a crucial match and that simply isn’t supposed to happen.

The decision itself, I’ve seen people argue it from both sides and those on my side of the line are the most sober and sensible.

Some of those on the other side are biased. Others are mistaken. But there are others too who know that the safe side to come down in this debate is on the side of Ibrox.

They don’t want inboxes full of bile. They don’t want the criticism. They are people just doing a job. They don’t care about right and wrong, only about what gets them through each day with the bare minimum of fuss.

I would stipulate that if you’re a professional pundit and that’s your attitude that you should be in a different line of work, but I know that a lot of these people do feel that way and it is easier for them just to go along to get along.

No decision that has gone in favour of Ibrox this season, no matter how absurd, has triggered such a wave of fury amongst the media.

Other clubs, and people like Barry Robson, must be incredulous at the venom being spat at Hampden and the not-so-veiled allegations which are being treated seriously, and which no-one would entertain if they came from them. They have had to endure far worse without the Scottish press corps ever going to bat on their behalf.

We are inundated here with bad decisions every single week in our game. Every week. Some of them are vastly more controversial than this was. The only thing that makes this different is the club it has gone against, but this isn’t the first time we’ve seen them use these tactics to deflect after a defeat in a big match against us.

The media willingly backs them up on every occasion. If Celtic acted in the way they have we’d be getting pummelled from all sides.

Every club in this country bar the one at Ibrox can smell stink all over this. Ibrox pretends that it does. They know what happened here as well as I do, and you will not get a clearer example of their perfect cynicism than this.

Their directors were at Celtic Park. They know that VAR checked the incident at the time and that it was settled. They might have disagreed with it, but it was settled, and they know too that there is nothing on those VAR tapes.

They know that because Sky and the other broadcasters have already heard what is on them and know there’s no story here except for another decision which some will defend and others won’t. But there’s no conspiracy.

Nobody was told lies. And they know something else; there was no “cover up” either, or at least not in the way they want their fans to believe.

It took me a day to figure out the sequence of events, and it seems so obvious to me now that I wonder why it didn’t dawn on me sooner.

But I had a beer or two after the game, and then it was Hogmanay and I took the day off … so maybe that’s a partial excuse. But by the time the Bells rang out I had satisfied myself that the VAR offside story makes perfect sense when you put it in the proper context, and that’s where I want to place it now.

I think Collum and his assistant were spooked.

Perhaps by the reactions of people around them at half time. Perhaps by the boiling anger radiating out at them from everyone in an Ibrox strip.

Maybe Walsh himself wanted it clarified; whatever happened, these guys know full well that what they did had gone against the cultural expectations and if the idea that they needed to deflect some of the criticism didn’t come from them I am sure someone in the hierarchy would have suggested it to them as a way of calming down the Ibrox fury.

Because of course, if it’s an offside who is going to continue talking about the decision?

So what we saw was the result of panic and anger … the panic of people within Hampden who knew they would all be eating dirt from the media and the Ibrox club over the call, and anger from those who felt that the decision had broken their unspoken covenant that these things do not happen to their team.

Those who panicked thought that in demonstrating that no penalty would have been given because of the offside released that to the broadcasters.

What we’ve seen here is a classic example of the SFA trying to placate Ibrox and them not being satisfied with the inch but wanting to take the mile. We’ve seen the cultural rot at Hampden, and in our media, exposed at its very worst.

No other decision this season in Scotland has warranted a secondary explanation; what makes this so special? The club it was given against.

Ibrox fans think that proves that there’s something dodgy going on, and there is … but as usual they can’t see the woods for the trees. The offside excuse is not designed to fool them. It was meant to appease them.

It was a reassurance no other club would have been deemed worthy of.

And of course, those who tried that tactic have demonstrated again how utterly futile appeasing Ibrox is. That club would rather stoke hatred than promote reasoned debate, and they see appeasement as weakness and have manufactured yet another crisis so they can pursue the goal of removing from Hampden a small number of people whose backgrounds they regard as suspect and compromised.

They are seizing on this incident in the hope that they can use it to cast enough doubt on Collum that they can remove him from the rotation.

Hey, I have no love for the guy. I will shed no tears for him.

But the deep dishonesty of the path Ibrox and its allies are pursuing here is obvious to me and should be obvious to others.

The decision was clear.

Agree or disagree with it, there was no ambiguity about it.

They even put it up on the big board at Celtic Park for everyone to see. Had there been some underlying conspiracy or whatever, the broadcasters would know it already because they have access to the raw audio and they know what was said and what wasn’t.

The “confusion” comes from the offside clarification, but it’s only confusing because some people want to ascribe a dark motive to it and others are jumping to conclusions about why it was offered in the first place. But the answer is staring them in the face.

The Ibrox club was already in meltdown over it. The media was freaking out. The pressure that was going to be brought to bear on them was already enormous.

The offside presented them with a way to take the heat out of the story, but they didn’t reckon on Ibrox cynically using it to sew further doubts.

I have accused the Ibrox board of being stupid at times, but let’s not kid on that these people don’t know their audience or that they have willing accomplices in the newsrooms of Scotland for whatever lunatic story they want to promote on any given day. They know exactly what they are doing here.

This whole thing about the SFA refusing to make the audio available to them, when in fact all the SFA have done is schedule a meeting later than they’d like is a sterling example; the media is running headlines about the SFA being obstructive when, in fact, yesterday was 1 January and today there’s a full SPFL card of games.

So when was this hearing meant to take place? Does the media care about the obvious scheduling issue? Of course, they don’t, because the newsrooms are as filled with Ibrox’s dogsbodies as the corridors of Hampden are.

The culture inside those walls makes it impossible for those at the top to confront Ibrox openly on their tactics and some of them doubtless feel that the explosion of foot stamping and moon howling will serve a function anyhow in that it will remind people of what they are expected to do and how they are expected to behave.

If you want a working analogy, here’s a good one.

In American Gangster, Russell Crowe finds himself frozen out in the police force because he finds a bag of dirty money and turns it in.

He doesn’t inform on fellow cops, he doesn’t bust people who are protected by his colleagues and put them in a bad position, he just turns in a bag of cash rather than keep it for himself.

And this sends shockwaves through his precinct because it would never even dawn on any of them to do such a thing and it suggests that none of them can trust him with whatever they’ve got going on. Note that it does nobody any specific harm. It just goes against the culture and for that reason he finds that nobody will partner with him except for a junked-up lunatic who keeps dangerous secrets from him and as a result almost gets him killed.

Willie Collum is going to find himself in a very lonely place over the next few weeks, and that lesson will not be lost on him or anyone else amongst the refereeing fraternity.

It won’t matter to his colleagues what his motivations were, he has committed a cardinal sin. He has violated the code.

He has betrayed the institutional understanding. His actions have threatened to subject them all to a harsh light, and pissed off the Peepul.

Nobody – not at Hampden, not at Ibrox and not in the newsrooms – can allow that to stand. They will make an example of him, slap him around a little, and everyone else will get the message loud and clear.

That’s how it works, and we forget that at our peril.

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  • Kevan McKeown says:

    Incredible how this is still goin on. Think we’re supposed tae say ” ach his leg was just a wee bit offside, so we shouldve ignored that and gave them a penalty ” ! This is the same club, it’s support AND media, that went on about Celtic’s Julien and his KNEE bein offside in the league cup final goal for a year and beyond. Their twisted sense of entitlements ridiculous.

  • Paddybhoy67 says:

    I made the mistake of dipping my toe into Sevco oriented anti-social media to try to see if there was a voice of reason somewhere. But, it was a Trumpian dystopian madhouse of stuff so vile, so unhinged it made me really worried. These folk have a Hutu mentality. Their hateful acronyms aren’t banter – they really mean it. Remember when folk used to joke about 90-minute bigots? This is 24/7 365 stuff. God help us all.

    • Jim says:

      Your point is made in the film Shoah, where with the known extrapolation and consequences, it really was shocking, and deadly.
      Ps the film should be shown to every school child growing up.

  • Jim says:

    Sent this to my ‘none’ football family, explains it well, better than I could, especially in the wider context.

  • Dan cowie says:

    Cracking piece James, exactly how it is

  • Eddie McKelvies Capri says:

    Only in Scotland!?

  • Bob (original) says:

    As ever,

    governance of Scottish football has nothing to do with football.


  • Jim says:

    No penalties given against in 73 games.
    Case closed.

  • Sophie Johnstone says:

    Not to forget the spitting incident totally ignored by a compliant media,the most disgusting behaviour,by a so called role model allowed to pass without comment or investigation by the SFA

  • John Copeland says:

    Do you think the BBC in Scotland will wheel out Crawford Allen – the referee head bummer – to clarify the non penalty ,like they did previously ? I doubt it because they want the ‘furore ‘ to go on and on as they believe their pet project have been ‘ diddled ‘ out of a non existent penalty ! That’s the new norm for Scottish football scoops ….mump and moan about decisions not given to the Rangers especially ones that are non existent for weeks on end !

  • Edward McCandless says:

    My Grandfather served in First World War As young boy listening to him and my Father talking about Celtic and Referring standards. I remember his words to my Father. “It will Never Change “

    My Father preached this to myself million times
    Looking back they are definitely spot on.

  • Pan says:

    The zombies should never have been allowed back into the league structure.
    They were liquidated for tax evasion and breaking all rules.
    The SFA should also be liquidated for bending and breaking rules. They constantly lie and deflect.
    Remember Farry being caught out for his bigotry and lies? Remember Dougie-gate and referees covering up and lying to Celtic? Then the assistant ref gets sacked for telling the truth. Remember the leader of the Scottish Tories shouting “red card, red card”? Remember the threats to burn Raith Rovers ground down. On and on it goes. Scotland appears to be racist and bigoted to its very core. In my opinion, the zombie club could not be allowed to cease to exist as it represents this manifestly evil and stinking culture which promotes one group to the detriment of others. Our press are disgustingly at the centre of it as well, with very few exceptions.
    All the other clubs should get together to change this culture, which protects one club to the detriment of all others. What is it that is so powerful that allows this situation to go on? Is there nobody brave enough to challenge?

    Fergus McCann was strong, stood out for honesty and integrity and the heroic and late Turnbull Hutton (God rest his soul) did the same. Have we nobody like them now? By not doing anything, our so-called leaders are also part of the problem. Clubs can gain strength from each other and need to get together to sort the cancer at the root of Scottish football.

    Scottish football needs rid of its bullies and self-interested groups. The English FA is infinitely superior, more honest, more disciplined, more healthy and open in every possible way.

  • Eldraco says:

    Well written.

    Now everyone is slapped back into place including CFC . Back to the end of the bus .

    Why with all the so called power that lawell et al possess does nothing change, its all smoke and mirrors.

    There simply has to be a mechanisim outside of football that can look at the running of sporting bodies and i dont mean police in scotland! What a waste of time that would be , however some sort of referral to an ICAC like body to investigate either that or the Kings Royal Commision into governance of football in Scotland . Its doable, its time.

  • Stephen says:

    I couldn’t ov put it better myself well said mate now. Let’s hope we can get on with our new year and let all them certain fans who are dilluded do celtics workfor them as weve been saying it for years cant wait until tonight to see a team go into the world record if a pen not giving tonight against. A certain team

  • SSMPM says:

    Two things I didn’t think I’d be saying –
    1/ I’m very disappointed in Sutton (Lennon to an extent too but hey) for not offering a contrast with regards to the Celtic non pen (Turnbull)
    2/ I actually feel a wee bit sorry for Collum and his family in particular (the pressers won’t be giving a shit about integrity in this regard).
    The hypocrisy of these ranker fans is truly incredible, unbelievable even, when a great many of them will primarily, in their anger, be thinking about what they should or can do to Catholics in retribution.
    The same haters that supported a club prior to this one that cheated itself to death, didn’t pay their taxes to their beloved queen and refused to dip into their own pockets to save their beloved club have the brazenness and absolute temerity to accuse anyone of corruption and lack of integrity is galling. Except that it’s not even surprising anymore.
    Though I really want it whenever the North returns to a united Ireland we’ll have all their fecking cousins ower here and this country will be an absolute masonic midden of maddies.
    All the same I thing Celtic should be putting in a complaint to the SFA about why their man wasn’t flagged for offside immediately (preventing all this nonsensical and threatening behaviour) when our boys that weren’t offside (Turnbull and Kyogo) were flagged straight away. Loving it. HH

  • BroxburnBhoy says:

    The club that has yet to concede a VAR domestic penalty crying foul over what was a correct and clear VAR decision is laughable. That said so much of that particular clubs approach to the game and its integrity is equally laughable. Unfortunately irony is wasted on the bretheren and they will continue to see the “hidden hand” because they will not accept they are second best or even third of fourth best. We are all used to this nonsense.

  • JimBhoy says:

    Turnbull also looked onside when he raced into the box to be pushed in the back by TavPen. The punch in the face for O’Riley should have been looked at again, I have watched it a few times and I believe it was meant.

    Did we take a by-kick or an offside free kick after the penalty issue? If the ref would have insised a free kick from the 18 yard line (offside position) then it should have sorted te issue but I believe he allowed a by-kick to be taken.

    I hope they are moaning about this for the next couple of weeks. They will never see the irony.

    HH, Happy New Year, I believe the rangers are coming….Deja-vu again!

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    That football club (Sevco) truly are a cancer on society without a shadow of a doubt…

    Last night in the pub there was a young crowd in and The Neil Diamond song Sweet Caroline was being played from the juke box and at several times in the song two pretty young girls near me and probably not older than 18 chipped in with the words ‘Fcuk The Pope’ –

    So after it finished I challenged the pair as to ‘Why would two pretty young lassies want to shag an elderly gentleman’ – Ah we didn’t mean it that way was the reply from one and the other said ‘we all sing it that way at the school disco dances’
    I assume there are more than a few teachers supervising these events several times a year and asked them did they not pull up those that were shouting those derogatory chants and they said – Absolutely not, they probably join in…

    If that is the educational mantra in Scotland then the country is doomed and in the gutter forever more…

    I asked them did they realise these words could offend some folks but they just said ‘no it’s just a bit of fun’
    I then asked them were they football fans, one said ‘Aye – I support Rangers’ (Her words – not mine) I asked had she ever been to Liebrox and she said no so she didn’t learn it there so it must’ve been in her home she learned it or perhaps her school.
    The other one actually said her sister was Celtic daft so I’m sure it was interesting in their house on Saturday but it’s quite common on these shores for some brothers and sisters from the same family to support Celtic and Sevco.

    Now perhaps I’m being a hypocrite here reporting this as no one was worse than me in my young days in The Jungle and Gallowgate Pubs at belting out ‘The Rebs’ including ‘And we’re all off to Dublin in the green – And Fcuk the Queen’ and if I hadn’t chucked paying to watch Celtic live I’d probably be joining in with the current Reb singers in the pub so there was no way that I was going to ‘lecture’ these two young women on the subject – I just asked a few questions and took their answers on board.

    I did state to them that if I was driving ma Fiesta and anyone was hitching a lift with a Celtic or Sevco, Scotland or England top on, were fat or thin, beautiful or ugly, black or white, or just supported Wee Clachnacuddin of The Highland League that they would get a lift in my motor no problem.
    They said they hadn’t sat their driving test yet but they would give Celtic fans like me a lift no problem either which was good to hear.
    I honestly doubt these young lassies (they’re not getting the title of ladies) have a scooby of what Catholic or Protestant means or would even be interested but there they were giving it laldy in a probably mixed bar where the bar staff just took the easy way out and said nothing.

    I’d say on that little experience from last night that bigotry is alive and kicking in fact very alive in kicking in not so very Bonnie Scotland !


    Killie got their penalty then.

    SEVCO Game in the bag, 3 points sorted

    Shame about that world record that never was.

    Wait till you hear the bleatin…McInnes the toast of the Killie Ludge.

    Next game normal service will be resumed and the non-penalty count will start again.

  • Jim says:

    What a coincidence that they conceded a penalty today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Johnny Green says:

    I would think that they would have to be very careful how they treat Willie Collum, as he could easily turn on them and spill his guts to all and sundry.

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