The job of referee has a kind of inverse relationship between popularity and career progress. Willie Collum has been at the centre of this season’s three major controversies. He was referee on two occasions when his assistants failed to notice Celtic conceded a goal in crucial league games against Rangers and Hearts (on each occasion the ball crossed the line by inches and remained there for a small fraction of a second).
There is very little a ref can do when his assistant doesn’t flag when the ball crosses the goal line, as we all know, but Collum still suffered reputational damage from some who simply blamed him for being in charge when ‘goals’ against Celtic were not awarded by assistant referees.
It takes a brave decision for a ref to award an injury time penalty for a team losing by a goal in a cup final. As we noted yesterday, Anthony Stokes clearly had his ankle clipped when clean through with Cammy Bell to beat on Sunday while the Kilmarnock defender never came close to the ball. This was a foul any day of the week, but having been in charge when Celtic benefited from assistant referee decisions, Collum booked Stokes instead of awarding a penalty.
This incident was almost identical to Collum’s decision not to award Celtic a penalty in the infamous game away to Hamilton Accies in 2011. With five minutes of the game remaining Niall McGinn was tripped inside the box but Collum booked the player.
The offside rule was subject to a new and unique interpretation that day. Hamilton ‘scored’ from a set piece with a player alone inside the six yard box who jumped over the ball. He was in an offside position by several yards and stood in front of Fraser Forster before allowing the ball to pass under him. Collum also sent off James Forrest for blocking a clearance in an incident which caused a Hamilton player to kick his boot.
All of this followed the infamous incident at Celtic Park when despite looking the other way, Collum awarded Rangers a penalty when Kirk Broadfoot stumbled in the vicinity of Daniel Majstorovic.
Without enjoying the light of robust critical analysis of refereeing decisions that happens in most other countries I’m not sure where we go with any of this. Celtic Quick News called both ‘goal’ incidents against Rangers and Hearts as assistant referee mistakes so it is only appropriate we record Mr Collum’s significant mistakes when refereeing Celtic, while we ponder the formula for career progression among Scotland’s referees.
I know we covered the issue of Duff and Phelps needing to talk-up any possibility of nullifying Ticketus ownership of future season tickets, Craig Whyte’s security over Ibrox of HMRC being prepared to accept a few pennies in the pound (before HMRC issued a rare statement about the important of paying your tax, “football club or not”), so apologies for repeating myself, but….
Duff and Phelps have agreed no deal with HMRC. Ticketus retain ownership of future season tickets and the recent court challenge appears to offer little threat, while Craig Whyte retains his security. In addition, Duff and Phelps have received no offer for Rangers with terms which are within their control.
So, apart from having no offers they can accept, no stadium to sell, no control over future season ticket sales, no agreement with HMRC and having absolutely no idea what they will do when player contracts revert to their full value on 1 June, Duff and Phelps job is pretty easy.
Right now they need to keep all their plates in the air. The very least we should do is cut them some slack as they endeavour to work the angles.
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