CELTIC hold a three-point advantage at the Premiership pinnacle with four games to play. Three of the duels are at Parkhead where Brendan Rodgers and his players will have the awesome backing of 60,000 vociferous fans.

Apart from one inexplicable stumble, it’s a challenge the team have overcome in eleven of the past 12 years while majestically dominating Scottish football.

The Hoops are even five strikes better off than their nearest challengers should the chase for the crown come down to goal difference.

What can go wrong?

When you copy in incomprehensible refereeing decisions and bewilderingly inept directives from the VAR gurus, you realise it is advisable to keep the champagne on ice. Don’t even think about looking out the bunting for street parties.

PHANTOM PENALTY-KICK…Tomoki Iwata hasn’t a clue, but he’s the guilty party in Hearts’ contentious spot-kick award against Celtic  = following the VAR intervention from John Beaton.

Other than the boneheads on the sixth floor at Hampden – plus match officials Don Robertson, possessor of the coveted silver whistle, and John Beaton, bestowed the control stick in Glasgow – no-one thought for even a millisecond that Hearts should be gifted a penalty-kick at Tynecastle in early March.

It stretched credibility to snapping point when the experienced referee and the technical titan combined their knowledge to conclude that the phantom incident concerning the brush of the ball against Tomoki Iwata’s left arm was deemed worthy of a spot-kick.

To be fair, the hosts looked as surprised as anyone who witnessed the incident and Lawrence Shankland, the club’s regular penalty-taker, was probably so convulsed with an attack of giggles he had to step aside and allow Jorge Grant to take the kick and tuck it away to put added pressure on their 10-man visitors.

We don’t really want to discuss Yang Hyun-jun’s ludicrous dismissal in the 14th minute, do we? Didn’t think so.

During the week, the VAR independent Review Panel ruled Beaton should not have intervened in the episode, as CQN reported. You’ll have to ask Robertson why he agreed with his colleague it was an offence punishable with a penalty-kick.

Inhabitants of Zord looked down and concurred it was not a spot-kick.

So, dear reader, inexplicable outside influences can often dictate the outcomes on what actually occurs on the field of play.

Way too often, as far as Celtic are concerned, there have been perplexing, puzzling decisions that make you wonder if those who are delivering such judgements possess enough savvy to be allowed to cross the road on their own.

“INCOMPETENCE”…Brendan Rodgers delivers his verdict after the Tynecastle debacle.

If Celtic are allowed to perform on an even playing field, without a seemingly endless sequence of farcical interruptions, they will conquer all once again on the domestic front.

Is it too much to ask match officials – on and off the pitch – to act with a reasonable degree of competency?

So far there has been precious little evidence of that capacity, surely a minimal requirement in the career choice of anyone who believes they possess the proficiency to blow whistles, flash cards, wave arms and wag fingers.

It would also be welcomed if they could manage to deliver instant and accurate pronouncements along the way without inviting Independent Review Panels to scrutinse their work before reaching for the dunce’s cap.

Celtic play Hearts at Parkhead this afternoon. Let’s hope we are discussing the merits of both sets of players in the aftermath of the action.

And the match officials remain where they belong. In anonymity.


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