VAR brings disrepute to Scottish game


For generations referees were drawn from the professional classes, people who were educated and accustomed to learning and applying rules.  This happened across the world, not just in Scotland, where refereeing was very much a white-collar business in a blue collar country.

It was an impoverished immigrant community which formed Celtic, the descendants of whom were largely responsible for nourishing the club through the subsequent generations.  Equal access to education in Scotland came with the liberalisation that swept across the UK in 1918.

Self-improvement followed, but even those of us who left school in the 1980s were told by guidance teachers that certain careers were unlikely to be open to us.  Large engineering employers in Lanarkshire were closed to Celtic-types when I graduated in the late 80s.

Speak to lawyers, who will explain why so many Celtic supporting colleagues practice the in the less-attractive criminal law side of the industry.  Banking, brewing and publishing were the same.  That recently, the professional classes, where referees were still drawn from, were under-represented by Celtic fans.

This is not a rant about social inequality.  Social inequality is a fact of life for post-immigrant communities across the globe and for this community, things have improved beyond all recognition in recent decades.  Celtic fans now have access to work their grandfathers could never dream of.  Including refereeing.

For many of us, things going wrong on the football field is triggering.  Echoes through the generations try to explain what our eyes see.  Prejudice?  No.  No one is trying to do you down.  What about bias?  Bias is different.  We are all biased, the pages of CQN are full of examples.  If you think you are not biased, you should do more self-reflection.  Referees are no better than you and me in this respect, but they can still be fair referees.

What is beyond doubt is that our football is not being refereed in a manner that is open and consistent with the Rules of the Game.  Before the World Cup I wrote here that the SFA should use the weeks without top-flight football to train their referees on the handball rule.  When football returned on Thursday, the handball rule seems to have changed significantly.

If this has happened, by SFA Head of Referee Operations, Crawford Allan, who was so quick last season to postulate that a Celtic goal may have been offside, has a duty to explain to the public why they are not seeing consistency.  To remain silent is as much a dereliction of duty as to allow this apparent inconsistency in the first place.  Be open and communicate clearly without reference to any incident or club.

Last night Liel Abada was in an offside position when a forward pass was made.  He was not offside at this time as he was some distance away and not interfering with play.  A Livingston defender attempted to head the ball forward but miscued, playing the ball in the direction of Abada instead, who duly scored.

The application of the rules here depend on the intent of the Livingston player.  If he intended to play the ball, play is in a second phase, Abada is onside.  If the ball struck the Livingston player, who had no intent to participate, play remains in the first phase and Abada is offside.  Without question, the Livingston defender intended to head the ball.  There is zero doubt.

With Abada standing in an offside position when the initial ball was played forward it is not a shock that VAR asked the referee to confirm what he thought the intent of the Livingston player was.  VAR was still wrong to ask for the check, however, as they should only do so if a clear error was made and this incident did not reach that bar.

What then happened is a classic scenario where you can expect a wrong decision to be made.  With VAR already erring, referee Euan Anderson approached the screen expecting to see something he missed.  He probably knows the Rules of the Game better than you or me, but he is on the spot, flooded with adrenaline, when ordering his thoughts is difficult.

Was he biased?  His grannie could come from Donegal for all I know, you may think otherwise but there is not enough evidence to substantiate a bias claim.  What I can tell you is he was ill-prepared to referee Celtic v Livingston last night.

Topflight referees are out training most nights.  It is a hard shift, they put a lot of work in, in order to be fit enough to get around a football field and keep up with full-time professional athletes.  I cannot attest to how well they are trained or tested in the Rules of the Game.  On this subject, there is abundant evidence that they are insufficiently trained to do the job they are paid to do.

That responsibility lies with Crawford Allan.  He is not in position to oversee appointments and represent the SFA on the international stage, though he doubtlessly does this very well.  His job is to make sure that referees know the rules, are given clear guidance and the reputation of our game is not brought into disrepute by the cold analysis offered by VAR.

I fear for what we will see at Ibrox on 2 January.

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  1. We would, in an honest league had four, that’s 4 pens last night and Abada’s goal would not have been chopped off.


    Two handball decisions in the first half, also a tackle on Haksa and Greg in the second half were stonewall pens.


    But we all know that the club will say eff all.

  2. Superbru update



    Nearing the end stage of first set of prizes now with only 2 sets of fixtures left.



    Round 17 saw a triple tie for first place with Raplochbhus, Hopeful Hoops and Celticrollercoaster on 9.5 points for the week. This week’s wooden spoon recipient was Pro Cierto on 1 point though he had 2 non participants below him.



    The race for the prizes (going to Top 3 only) looks like this:-



    1. A Thing of Beauty -105 pts.


    2. Leggy – 103 pts


    3. Ayrshire Tim- 97.5 pts


    4. Tirconnell- 93


    5. celticrollercoaster- 92


    6. Bognorbhoy- 90.5


    7. Call Me Gerry- 89


    8. Hutchybhoy- 88.5


    9. TravelBhoy- 87.5


    10- Apple- 87



    With 12 fixtures to go , we could still see a 3rd prize go to someone outside this top 10 but congratulations to the two who broke the 100 points barrier this week.



    Conanh25 is in the lead for the Wooden spoon on 34.5 with wee McCaff and Craig 76 on 43 and 49 respectively. these guys should maybe concentrate on trying to win the final end of season prize for highest weekly total of 14.5 points. I intend to award the wooden spoon to an active participant (to the end of the season) low scorer rather than to someone who could not keep up with participation, as I understand some posters have dropped out (a genuine thank you for your support BTW).



    Next set of fixtures begin tomorrow at 7.30 pm with 2 SPFL fixtures and 4 more on Saturday- early kick off for Celtic. The final 6 fixtures are on Wed. 28th December at 7.45 pm. I hope to be sober enough to announce winners on the 29th.



    As always, thank you for your support and interest. Enjoy Christmas and a 9 point lead.

  3. The bias appears to disproportionately favour one team and disproportionately hurt another.



    When that happens consistently over decades and decades, what do you call that? Bias surely. But it can also be prejudice. I don’t see the two things as mutually exclusive.



    If it is just inconsistent application and inconsistenies of rules you’d expect that to ‘balance itself out’. You wouldn’t be fearful for a trip to ibrox on that basis. They should be as worried as us if there wasn’t a one way bias or prejudice at play.



    Bit of cognitive dissonance going on Paul?



    Also, going into these games I hope this is part of applying the necessary pressure on a bunch of cheats rather than getting excuses in early. We need to be totally focused on playing football that will overcome the legendary bealeball!

  4. I find it hard that Ange accepts this behind closed doors. He is an honest and forthright leader, he doesn’t suffer fools or having his nuts tugged. Too much money involved now asset wise and prize money to let them away with this.



    Peter back to fight our corner?




  5. Paul 67,



    Possibly if the authorities didn’t keep changing or issuing new guidelines to the offside rule then the referees and viewers could understand it.



    Rules should be clear and simple with no ambiguity.




  6. paulsthroughball88 on

    Venus de Milo in the hoops couldn’t be sure of not giving away a handball penalty at Ibrox on 2nd January.

  7. I thought we played well in the first half,a lot of great balls across the 6 yard line,a wee bit disjointed 2nd half,i think some team is going to get a tanking soon,when we start getting on the end of these crosses,hopefully the 2nd January……

  8. bournesouprecipe on

    VAR reintroduces the previously phased out


    buttock clenching OB chant, as the evidence continues to stack up. It’s now simply two refs for twice the price, one called staunch and the other one called stauncher.



    Who’d have thought Celtic would be the first Scottish side to fall foul of wide open to misinterpretation. ‘player coming back on side debate ‘ Another hand ball that would have been given against Celtic saw Hatate’s shockingly twice Hamdump blanked, on target strike. No check needed in case the camera favours us.



    Giving Scotland’s officialdom VAR was as helpful as giving Vaselis Barkas, new gloves for Christmas. The subject now tiresome from the first game at Tynecastle when scorelines started to be marred by VAR Celtic were set to suffer.



    Our football coach diplomatically dips out of the debate, to concentrate on Celtic’s ‘non scoring’ nine point lead wonders. Kyogo scored and remains on target for top goalscorer, but the frequency of chance making and missing is dangerously high, with opportunities being spread throughout the team. The number of Celtic goals are team wide and Henrik Larsson type totals, are a thing of the past.



    Content with goal distribution, it’s served us well in recent years, tonight though showed AP has to reassess, and alter the tactic. Somebody needs to not never stop and put their foot on the ball, shuffle the pack well for Saturday, as St Johnstone will play the same game as Livingston. Nobody played well offensively, the ball was like a bar of soap always in possession but more often than not, out of reach when it mattered.



    All of the midfield had an off night, though when David Turnbull and Aaron Mooy came on, we steadied to prevent a late undeserving Livi onslaught. One goal leads, with seven minutes of VAR dithering time to play, will not always be enough to guarantee a win. The new invisible technology will eventually take points, hopefully not in the form dip with which it happens to have ‘coincided’



    M.O.M Carl Starfelt

  9. We are watching rules getting re-written and invented as we watch,if we don’t flag it up before the 2nd,we are sitting ducks.

  10. The Abada incident was an offside decision. Offside is binary, not a matter of opinion,



    Why was the referee asked to consult the screens, he should have been informed . VAR official bottled it, passed all the pressure to an inexperienced ref. As far a s i know, unprecedented, asking aref to confirm an offside decision.


    To me , what was more contentious was the handball incident where the player leaned into the shot, that was a penalty all day long.

  11. To my untrained eye, Liel Abada was offside as the Livi player was attempting to head the ball away and prevent it from going through to the Celtic player (thus Leil was interfering with play) but the so-called black-and-white rule that is offside is now open to interpretation, hence the reason it took 5 minutes and a referee monitor check to finally decide.



    Did you really think Carl was MOTM?



    I felt he made sufficient , early errors that led to me feeling nervous every time he was involved !

  13. Nice of Sportscene to display an Irish Tricolour on the top left corner of the screen throughout the Celtic v Livingston highlight.

  14. Cut the crap, they, referees linesman VAR operators are a bunch of cheats and will continue to cheat Celtic if Celtic dont deal with this NOW, everybody who is a Catholic in this country or went to a Catholic school has been discriminated against overtly and covertly, it continues to this day, education was the way out of this for the Catholic populous , however Celtic need now to get on this and use thier substantial power and contacts to get these decisions looked at, statrting with publicising and voicing their concerns through a reputable PR company and not through Jamieson the Hearts supporter at Celtic media.

  15. I’d disagree about the rules; here’s the key part for me:



    A player in an offside position at the moment the ball is played or touched* by a team-mate is only penalised on becoming involved in active play by:



    challenging an opponent for the ball or


    clearly attempting to play a ball which is close when this action impacts on an opponent or.



    In other examples we have seen, City’s goal against Villa and Mbappe’s goal in the Nations League the argument is that the attacking player’s actions don’t impact on the opponent. Last night the refs could argue, with some justification that Abada did impact on the defender in his attempt to clear.



    Given the controversy after the game I can now understand how long they took to come to their decision. I also think there’s some solid logic behind it.



    I also think we would all benefit from a more open approach from the officials and better, any communication about their decisions.



    I’m on my own here, I know, but its not just VAR decisions thats spoiling the game for me, it’s the constant hysteria that surrounds every one of them. Anything that could tone down the conversation about it would be welcome.



    An entry-level communications expert would have foreseen this and had a strategy to help prevent whats happened. Unfortunately Celtic seem to be the only professional outfit in Scottish football, the SFA walked righting into this and deserve everything thats coming to them.

  16. To my untrained eye, Liel Abada was offside as the Livi player was attempting to head the ball away and prevent it from going through to the Celtic player (thus Leil was interfering with play) but the so-called black-and-white rule that is offside is now open to interpretation, hence the reason it took 5 minutes and a referee monitor check to finally decide.





    There was a similar call in a euro nations league game where a defender slid in to intercept a forward pass to an on running player who was off side. The defender ended up knocking the ball on and the striker scored.



    It was deemed the defender deliberately played the ball and so a second phase started – just as p67 has explained. The only decision is whether livi deliberately tried to header the ball. It’s clear he did. The goal was good. But we appear to be seeing rules turned on their head with VAR in Scotland.

  17. Reading lots of interpretations.



    It will just change to suit.



    We are being cheated that’s it.



    Anything else your kidding yourself.




  18. At a time when players and officials are falling foul of gambling rules, football must be seen to be whiter than white.


    Alas, governance within scottish football is an embarrassing little skid

  19. AN DÚN on 22ND DECEMBER 2022 12:58 PM



    They decision, as Dermot Gallagher said in the clip, is whether Mbappe “impacted” on the defender.

  20. CELTIC40ME



    Mbappe’s goal in the Nations League the argument is that the attacking player’s actions don’t impact on the opponent.






    Mate the defender wouldn’t have tried to intercept the pass if no opposition player was there. Mpbabe’s presence clearly impacted that decision.

  21. Guys,



    VAR is here to stay, this we must accept as do all major teams in European football.



    We are not firing on all cylinders and Livingston are always a difficult team for us as the records amply demonstrate.



    We are 9 points clear and we know our team can and will perform better and we will strengthen in January under a very astute manager.



    Another thing which will be a new normal is circa 8,9 or 10 minutes added for each game. As a team that never stops this must be a beneficial ” change”



    However one thing never changes; the fans who make the time, effort and expense to physically watch our team must dominate our clubs thought process.



    Last night a family in the next row to me had to leave circa the 80 minute mark for transport reasons. They missed about 20 minutes of the game.



    Why not start the domestic evening games at 07.30 pm or even 07.15 hrs pm.?



    In summary: A great 3 points against an very awkward opponent, but another discussion point for Summer football.



    HH, the journey continues




    He’s not inexperienced. He’s been a Cat. 1 ref for over a decade.



    He’s a Dumbarton hun .

  23. GREENPINATA on 22ND DECEMBER 2022 1:08 PM









    VAR is here to stay, this we must accept as do all major teams in European football.






    If a Liverpool or City had been on the wrong end of the litany of decisions going against us, I think they start a holy war. It’s utterly ridiculous.

  24. Midfield conundrums continued….



    I think more variation of the theme and too many sameys…..



    Callum, Matt and Reo seem the current shoe-in starters. Not enough goals but lots of class all the same.


    I’d expect Robertson, McCarthy, Guchi to be open to offers in January.


    No obvious B team promotions sadly.


    I’d expect part 2 of the season to allow Ange to make a call on Mooy extension (it’s a yes for me), Abildgard (although his Euro worth has gone) and even Turnbull (who seems a yard too slow for Angeball) for the summer.



    I’d like a quicker, trickier goalscorer in the mix who can contribute 10+ goals per season. A more mobile Kris Commons type.


    I’d like that quicker, more mobile CDM we will need for the step up to the Euros. Maybe the Tunisian fella.


    I wouldn’t be suprised if we lost an O’Riley next season too & replace with a Petrov type.




  25. PeterLatchfordsBelly on

    Of course we’re all biased, which is precisely why we need strong governance to ensure the rules of the game are applied fairly and as consistently as possible. What we are seeing is the polar opposite of that. Not a single VAR (or non-application of VAR when there should have been) decision has gone against the huns thismseason. Not a single one. And certainly not when there has been anything of consequence as stake. I won’t hold my breath in a consequential VAR decision going against the huns any time soon, no matter how clear the initial error.



    What is a matter of fact (not bias) is that Celtic have consistently been on the wrong end of consequential VAR (and non-application) decisions, close to every match since it was introduced. The only one in our favour was conveniently inconsequential to the outcome of the game (at Livi).



    The game in Scotland is -governed’ by huns for the benefit of huns. This is being thrown into ever sharper relief since the introduction of VAR, the hun-dominated MSM gaslights us like the abusive partner, who tells us ‘it’s all in our heads’.



    Rotten and corrupt to the core. As last night’s latest scandalous decision demonstrated.

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