We’ll discuss Celtic’s failure to reproduce the kind of performance which humbled Hearts 0-4 at Tynecastle last time we faced them later. For now it’s worth considering what SFA Head of Referee Development, John Fleming, does next.
It’s been a year since he took over the job and whatever his hopes for the calibre of performances when he was appointed, he will surely consider the shambles of referee performances an “affront” (to use one of his words) to standards.
Euan Norris’ performance yesterday was abject. He saw Ian Black go over the ball and plant his studs into the leg of Joe Ledley but awarded only a yellow card. He saw the same player deliberately handle the ball later but awarded only a foul.
The rules on handball could not be clearer. A player must make a deliberate attempt to play the ball with his hand or arm, or to have moved his hand or arm into an unnatural position, before he can be considered to have committed a foul.
This rule is neither new nor unfamiliar. Balls innocuously strike hands and arms in almost every game raising interest only from partisan fans ignorant of the rules. And for the record – if you are slide-tackling, jumping to head or turning your back on a shot, the natural position for your arms are not stationary and by your side. Neither incident late in the game were penalties.
Norris failed on all important calls during the game and is clearly doing the reputation of the SFA, and by implication, Fleming, any good.
No one emerged with any credit after last week’s Charlie Richmond fiasco but Fleming suffered in particular. His briefing to the Daily Record, which simultaneously listed Richmond’s confidential performance statistics, confirmed the impression that Hampden is playing fast and loose with appropriate behaviour.
A wise rector once said, ‘Judge me on my graduates, not my students’. Fleming is working with the population he inherited, but it is his responsibility to improve standards and enhance the reputation of referees. On both counts he is under water.
In a curious twist, Fleming’s predecessor is on stv.tv today comparing Neil Lennon’s reaction to that of Harry Redknapp’s reaction to the referee mistake at one of Chelsea’s five goals yesterday. The Wembley apologised for an “honest mistake”. We’ve yet to hear the same from Norris or Fleming.
Creative writing award of the day goes to STV for this gem:
“Dallas, formerly Scotland’s head of referees before leaving his position following controversy over what was considered an offensive e-mail”.
So it might not have been an offensive email after all. ‘Jokes’ portraying individuals or a group of people as having, or sharing guilt, with one, or a small number of, criminal(s) is fertile ground for prejudice to grow. STV should be clear that it is inappropriate and offensive in the workplace.
We have an outstanding original canvass painting of Neil Lennon available for purchase on eBay to kick start our summer charity fundraising. This year the beneficiaries will be Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, Martin Chambers Foundation and The Neuroblastoma Alliance, Aberdour PS PTA, The Haven, Blantyre. The painting, by US based artist, Joseph Gormley, is an outstanding memento of our manager during these times.