Celtic Fans Aren’t The Ones Making A Ridiculous Argument On Refs Declaring Their Clubs.

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Last night, someone sent me a clip of Radio Clyde’s ludicrous “discussion” on refereeing bias. I listened to it several times and the important thing to note is that none of them dismissed the central claim, that John Beaton is a supporter of the club that plays at Ibrox.

How could they dismiss it? It’s not even an open secret. It’s just open. It’s a fact and everyone in Scottish football knows it’s a fact.

Instead, we were treated to one of the most idiotic efforts to waive this issue aside that I have ever heard; if we made refs declare their allegiances, we would have nobody to take the big games. And refs are entitled to get those big games, even the ones which involve the clubs they’ve grown up supporting.

That’s a new one alright.

That’s a new argument, and far and away the most nonsensical one I have ever heard. It is joke that we, as Celtic fans, should have our concerns dismissed with such pitiful justifications, and ones which wouldn’t stand up to the slightest scrutiny anywhere else in the game. No other country would allow this kind of thing to go on for all these years without getting a proper grip on it.

Chris Sutton apparently expressed his surprise the other day upon finding out that they make refs declare this stuff in England. How can he not know that already? Is this another example of him playing dumb? Because it’s not only in England they do this; this is common across Europe, in virtually every league and set-up. We are the outlier here; it is Scotland again which is in the tiny minority.

And I am moved to wonder; who exactly does our system protect? Why is this one of the only football associations which doesn’t do this as a matter of course? You listen to anyone who tries to sell the game here; on what basis do they do it? That we are (or we were) the home to “the bitterest rivalry in football.”

In Italy, where they have had every kind of corruption in the sport, it is inconceivable that they would allow an Inter fan to referee a Milan derby, or a Juventus fan to officiate at the Turin one.

Can you imagine the outcry if the EPL was decided on a bad decision in favour of Liverpool, given against Man City by a Liverpool fan?

It would never happen. It cannot happen because they have rules which explicitly prevent it from happening.

Those rules could be applied in Scotland in two seconds flat, but we won’t do it and Celtic stands back and allows this to continue and we have done for years.

We are expected to believe that out of all the officials in Europe that we are the only country where they are so steadfastly honest that even “the bitterest rivalry in football” makes no difference at all.

When the jackpot for winning this title is enough to erase years of Ibrox debt we’re meant to believe that it’s impossible for this to influence decisions.

We’re also supposed to believe that a Celtic supporting official might not give critical decisions the other way. It is preposterous to put people with that kind of conflict in that kind of spot.

It is farcical to expect us to believe that years of following one of these clubs ceases to matter once they pull on that SFA outfit.

There’s no way that this can be defended, and certainly not in the pathetic manner in which Clyde tried to do it the other day. Look, we either want a clean game or we don’t. We either care about the integrity of the sport or we continue to act like the stupidest kids in the class.

We either build a system that works for the clubs, all of them, or we persist with one which is built to protect SFA officials on their steady climb up the UEFA ladder … it’s scandalous that we’ve chosen the latter, and it’s scandalous that the clubs themselves continue to tolerate it.

This isn’t even up for debate any longer; we know that certain officials favour certain clubs. To continue to let them officiate in matches in which those clubs have a stake is tantamount to cheating, and especially at this stage in a close campaign.

There’s no other way to put it than that we permit a system that is fundamentally bent.

And we are not the only club who suffers for that and it’s high time that fact started to penetrate more deeply into the consciousness of fans of other clubs, fans who believe that “you never get a decision against the Glasgow teams”.

If they really believe it, what in God’s name have they been doing about it all these years?

They are getting very good at demanding that their clubs limit the number of tickets our fans get, but they’re happy to let one referee the games?

Are these people just not tuned into the right frequency or what? How many European places have been lost by this stuff? How many potential cup finals? Do they genuinely care? Because I don’t see any other club being put under pressure by its own fans over this.

Imagine Beaton officiates the Ibrox club’s game against Ross County, just before the split. Imagine he gives a dreadful decision in that match which consigns them to the foot of the table and the near certainty of relegation?

Are they comfortable with that possibility?

Are St Mirren or Kilmarnock, separated by one point in the fight for fourth place, and Europe, really going to leave their fates in the hands of John Beaton at Ibrox?

They can’t possibly accept that, or so you’d think anyway … but they have been accepting it, and they’ve been accepting it now for years.

Hearts fans are gleeful right now about Beaton’s decisions, but they have to know that they’ll be on the end of something just as bent if they find themselves at Ibrox and leading with a minute to go only for a questionable penalty to against them, and if that scenario sounds familiar it should be … because on 29 October last year Beaton did exactly that to them, and they lost the game.

Oh, and by the way, that was the second penalty he awarded the home side in that match.

It is worth looking at Steve Naismith’s comments from that day, because even with his obvious pro-Ibrox leanings he was pretty cheesed that afternoon and pointed the finger squarely at Beaton for costing his side the game.

“The game hinges on the penalty decision. I don’t think it is a penalty. At every corner there was blocking, where (their) players were not even interested in the ball. All they are doing is looking at our man, blocking our player. I spoke to officials during the game who said if that happened and it was given as a goal, it would be given as a foul. Lo and behold, at the end of the game there is a clear block on our man.

“John Lundstram is not even interested in the ball, all he is doing is looking at our player and he blocks him and then it is given by VAR. I spoke to the referee who said he never gets shown any video footage of any block happening. He said it (the video) didn’t go that far back but it is pretty obvious.

“Clear blocking, clear obstruction, it should be our foul. VAR should see there is a foul happened before the two players (Haring and Goldson) make contact. Then the penalty in the first half. There is two minutes added on and that is given in the 48th minute. Small details can have a big impact.”

That’s a description of match-fixing. That’s all that it is.

But Hearts fans should have been asking why Beaton was even allowed on the pitch that day, because they know what we all know, that he’s is an Ibrox club supporter and in any other major football nation would not have been permitted to officiate his own team.

But nobody objected and nobody will the next time either.

I refuse to believe that if refs declared their allegiances that we’d have “none left to do the games.” And even if, by some chance, that proved to be correct, there are options including bringing in refs from abroad where necessary, and there’s nothing controversial about that suggestion and nor is there anything difficult or complicated involved in it.

There’s another excuse which is frequently offered up; “Officials will just lie …” And that’s not really an answer as to why we shouldn’t do this, it’s an excuse not to and it’s a particularly weak one. It doesn’t even rise to the level of primary school playground debate.

It’s just another way of evading responsibility and ducking the issue. Frankly, it’s not even worth engaging with that, it’s just too stupid. We’re talking about a signed statement as a condition of employment, in the social media era, in a small country where there are no secrets. It’s not as simple as just saying “I’m an Arbroath fan” and taking your chances.

There are many more good reasons to do this than not to.

Do we want fans to have confidence in officials? This is how to do it.

If the ref’s association wants the craziness to stop, if it wants to give its members greater protection, then they should be in favour of greater transparency.

The reason for so much of the rising anger is that certain refs are stalked by rumours and the preferences of others are an acknowledged fact … and that is where the problems lie. Not only do I think this is an atrocious thing for clubs to have to tolerate, I don’t believe it’s fair or appropriate to put the officials themselves in that position.

The panellists on that dire radio phone in show evidently disagree and what pisses me off most listening to the abysmally low IQ’s and the rock bottom level of the debate they were having is that they think we’re the ones on the fringes and on the margins.

They treat us as though we were the ones howling at the moon.

But what they are suggesting that we accept is so far outside of those margins that no other top league in Europe would accept anything remotely like it, and nor do UEFA who will not allow officials to referee games involving clubs from their own nations.

The question I’d ask Gordon Daziel and the rest of that goon squad on there, and anybody else who wants to make such a half-witted point is very simple; if this doesn’t matter, imagine how you’d feel if UEFA changed its own regulations and Scotland found itself, on the day of our opening fixture in the Euros this summer against Germany, being told that the match would be officiated by Daniel Siebert and his Bundesliga assistants.

Still think it’s cool? Still think it doesn’t matter?

Hey, the German FA could just tell you that its officials are honest, that this is conspiracy theory crap, that you’re howling at the moon. Cause that’s how the media treats us whenever we raise the same concern.

I’ve got news for you; we’re not the ones howling at the moon here.

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  • William Melvin says:

    So,let me get this right !
    On the one hand they are telling us we have the most honest officials on the planet, who are simply untainted by any thoughts or deeds of corruption………RIGHT ??? !!!
    And on the other hand,they tell us that one of the reasons why declaring the team they show allegiance to,these same paragons of virtue would LIE ABOUT IT !!!
    You’re right,as per usual, James.
    It’s not us who are vocalising at lunar objects.
    Hunbelievable !!!

  • Dora says:

    The fact that beaton Halfwit was a thirsty ducky in a ranger pub says it all…
    Imagine some other ref quenching his thirst in a Celtic pub!!??
    Unheard of and as you rightly said James- somehow ranger supporting, bent refs can affiliate Derby games but, no bother in good ol Scotland….pathetic really!!

  • FSTB says:

    Talking of snide (I stopped listening to it yrs ago )
    I remember back when Derek Johnstone was on the panel.
    It was way back when the game first mòoted the idea of making everyone aware of how much time was to be added rather than just leaving it to the referee to decide when he was going to blow the whistle .
    Everyone on the show was in agreement that I was a good idea except one of the panel
    No prizes for guessing who it was .

    His answer was no it should be up to the referee to decide himself when he wants to call time

    Maybe big DJ had Bobby Tait in mind when he said it

  • Liam Gibson says:

    I think Chris Sutton expressed his surprise that the families of the referees in England, as well as the refs themselves, have to declare their allegiances. He wasn’t playing dumb at all.

  • Mick says:

    James you may have this confused, Sutton was surprised to hear that THIS IS NOT DONE IN SCOTLAND; as it is in England.Not the way you have it.

    For Scottish football to prosper it’s a must that the refs declare allegiance and so be it if they have to hire them in from abroad, not England as they’ll almost certainly have a preference too.

    Thanks for All the articles, very much appreciated

  • Mick says:

    The real issue here is, historically, our club’s board not speaking up, just taking it time and again. That’s all my father knew (this ridiculous status quo) and it’s all I’ve known and seen.
    Time for A Celts For Change revival ?

    We/They need to take the fight to the sfa akin to ‘The Bunnet’ Fergus McCann; Lawyers et al. Show them it’s now time.

    This subject rears itself every so often only to fizzle away till next time, it’s only one of a plethora of issues that need sorting once and for all.

    The governing bodies and the refs association both need SHREDDING and rebuilt in their entirety. To do anything less is to continue with what we KNOW is corrupt. That can’t happen.

    Once we have that we can then see every club abiding every rule in the new book. Sadly, until then it’s just rinse and repeat.

    Once and for All.


  • Frank Connelly says:

    if you find a pro-celtic ref James gessa a shout

  • Willbhoy says:

    We have been putting up with this shite for a long long time, when var was brought into Scottish football we all thought this stuff would stop, we all thought that the referee’s would be found out when there prejudices came to the fore , but its the same corrupt bastards that are interpreting was went on on the pitch. In my opinion it will not stop until our club and supporters no longer sit at the back of the bus . Until then the game up here will remain a rigged game

  • Stevie says:

    There is absolutely nò desire to change the ways of Scottish Football. Nobody gibes a shit or too ßpineless to speak out in this wee backward part of the world. It could so easily be solved. All you meed to do is ditch the pathetic corrupt Lanarkshire referee association and traìn up referees from other parts of the country awày from the toxic centràl belt. Where is the referees from the highlands, the north east coast. Scottish football is and will remain rotten to the core

    • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

      A great point indeed Stevie…

      Around 40 years ago you had Bob Valentine from Dundee (whom at 14 I hated and was convinced that he loved Aberdeen) also Bill Crombie was it Perth ? that he came from, I think there was one called George Smith from Edinburgh and things weren’t so ‘cultural’ then between two teams with skewed massive supports the way things are now and bloody hell rangers (as they were rightly known as then) played in crowds of around 5,000 while Aberdeen and Dundee United played to full houses but bloody hell with them from Ayrshire, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire there was always gonna be a big Sevco connection all the way down the chain there…

      Note that there are none (that I know of anyway) from West Dunbartonshire or Inverclyde which are perceived as Celtic strongholds –

      I wonder why !

  • Big Wolf says:

    There is no chance of the SFA requiring referees to declare the team they support or favour. However, I was intrigued to discover that if the SFA have a Conflict-of-Interest Policy for Referees, they are keeping it well hidden.

    FIFAs Conflict of Interest Policy states that.

    A conflict of interest may arise when personal interests, activities or relationships affect an individual’s ability to be impartial and do what is in the best interest of FIFA.
    A conflict of interest can be real, potential, or perceived. When it comes to conflicts of interest, facts, appearances, and perceptions matter.

    A perception of a conflict of interest can be just as harmful as an actual conflict.
    When a perception of a conflict exists, it can harm your personal reputation and the reputation of FIFA.

    There is undeniable perception of a clear ‘conflict of interest’ in the eyes of the Celtic support, regarding two referees in particular. As FIFA states ‘A perception of Conflict can be just as harmful as an actual conflict. Additionally, FIFA provides guidance on how to address this issue.
    The best way to avoid reputational issues is to know how to identify and disclose a conflict of interest when it occurs. Each FIFA team member must – where possible – avoid situations that conflict with the interests of FIFA.

    In terms of UEFAs guidance on Conflict of Interest it states:

    According to the General Terms and Conditions for Referees officiating at UEFA matches, match officials are required to promptly inform UEFA if they have any potential conflict of interests related to their appointments. This includes connections they may have or have had with national associations, leagues, or clubs participating in UEFA competitions.

    Match officials also undertake to inform UEFA without delay of any potential conflict of interests that they may have in respect of an appointment, including any connection that they may have or have had with a national association, league or club taking part in a UEFA competition

    The FA in England offers this guidance:

    CONFLICTS OF INTEREST A Referee shall at all times act impartially. Where a Referee believes that there is a material interest conflicting with the duties and obligations of a Match Official and any appointment, then the Referee shall decline to act or officiate and declare it to the appointing authority (whose decision in relation to any dispute or difference in such matters shall be final and binding).

    Being unable to source an SFA Policy relating to ‘Conflict of Interest’, it would appear that there is no requirement within the SFA, for any referee to ‘declare a Conflict of Interest’ or decline an appointment, despite two high profile referees having well known personal interests, activities or connections to one specific SPFL club, which could impinge on their ability to be impartial.
    I believe our Club, fans and bloggers would have more success arguing the conflict-of-interest point, than that of referees stating which team they support. I do wonder what a freedom of information request to the SFA regarding any declared conflict-of-interest by referees might reveal. Just a thought

  • Effarr says:

    I always wondered why in a country as bigoted as this that every team in Scotland has more so-called sports reporters following them than OF Sevco has. Teams with a handful of fans on a Saturday all have a “sports reporter” in amongst them, like Chick Young, to mention only one, and yet despite 50,000 going to the local coup in Govan regularly, they don`t have one among their support. It will be the same if the refs have to divulge the love of their sporting life, they`ll be every bit as (dis)honest as the hacks and once their choice gets ticked off in the declaration form it will be secretly filed and the public would never ever know anyway.

  • Tambhoy50 says:

    Scotland when a boy starts at about 14 years old is asked what school he goes to they let them join but keep scrutinising them to try and force the Catholic boys quit any they do get through to become professional referees are told if they are Catholic that they must denounce their religion if they want to on ro higher grade I personally knew a boy who started at 14 by the time he was 16 he was rated to be the best up and coming young referee in Scotland but as he turned professional his first game in junior professional he was asked to denounce his religion he refused and he never got another game he got fed up waiting for another game he quit and started doing amateur games again before packing it in that’s why Scottish football referees are so bad and the boy mentioned was not the only one it happened to

  • Phelim grehan says:

    Take the players from the pitch , when the next bad decision happens whether we are winning bye game or not its the only way to stop it , if I’m Brendan rodgers and being set up to hand the title to the new club this season I’d do it . Focus the attention of world football in the SFA and their corrupt referees, and believe me the focus would fall on them , what has Brendan got to lose he’s probably going to walk anyway , the backing from our board isn’t there for him . I’ve said it from the start of the season , if the new club are not permitted to win the league this season they go under it’s clear as day , they haven’t up debts they can’t pay (again) go for it Brendan u have the backing of the fans , let them have this title but don’t let them cheat their way to winning it

  • Connell McNelis says:

    More to the point, they should be asked if they are in any secret organizations, i.e. Masons or Knights, and if the are members of the Orange Order or Hibernians.

  • Gerry says:

    Sevco & ( the first creation of their club,) have had their fans officiating/influencing their games since way before VAR was introduced or was even considered an acronym!!!
    The image of T Wharton’s handshake with J Greig, says more than a thousand words could ever do.

    Presently, we all have to believe that our club’s tacit approach to this latest scandal, is one of complete inertia, as has been the case for so many decades, and especially since the re-emergence of Hun manor.
    Can we trust our club to FINALLY, understand that NOW, more than at any time, proper and positive action HAS to be taken, to expose and filter out the cheats, push for full and transparent reform of the governance in our game and for once, let our fans see that our club and fans can start to trust the game in this country !
    And take the requisite action NOW!

    Which of the two scenarios is currently in play ?

  • Peter Campbell says:

    If what we want came to pass and referees had to declare their allegiance, if they lied about who they supported and were caught, there would be professional consequences. Would they risk that?

    And if the Radio Clyde SSB panel are saying that they could lie, are they suggesting that they believe some referees cannot be trusted?

  • B mcGinlay says:

    In England top referees have to advise the fa of their favourite team and they will not be appointed to any of their matches
    There are approximately 14 premier referees who live in the Greater Manchester area and all but said they were season ticket holders of Altrincham fc a non league team so they can be appointed to MAN City and MAN Un games

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