CQN deliberately did not carry the ludicrous story which emerged yesterday claiming VAR got it quite correct in not allowing Celtic a penalty-kick when the ball clearly struck Connor Goldson’s upflung hands in the 2-2 stalemate at Ibrox on Monday.
Everyone with at least one working grey cell knew it was a spot-kick and should have been punished by either referee John Beaton or his technical assistant Willie Collum.
Why bother defending the indefensible?
With indecent haste, some former match officials raced to the rule book to state players won’t be punished if they make themselves bigger in a reflex action to protect their face.
Well, you know what they say, don’t you? Rules are for fools.
We accept we need laws and guidelines are required, but please do not insult our intelligence when these directives are manoeuvred and manipulated to try to prove a preposterous point.
PENALTY PUZZLER…Connor Goldson blocks Carl Starfelt’s effort, but the Ibrox club escape any punishment.
If you are argue black is white and take the debate through all they varying shades of grey, you might just persuade someone that black is, in fact, white.
However, it was clear to anyone who has a scintilla of knowledge of the game that Goldson handled the ball as Carl Starfelt attempted to hook it forward.
If, for argument’s sake, that was not a spot-kick, then you must ask why Dundee United were awarded a penalty-kick at Parkhead on November 5 when a header from Steven Fletcher flicked off Alexandro Bernabei’s elbow when the defender was not even looking in the direction of the ball.
His arms were hardly in an unnatural position when you consider he was challenging for a high cross. Yet referee David Dickinson was sent to the pitchside monitor by VAR assistant Nick Walsh and came back onto the field, pointed to the spot and flashed a yellow card at the bewildered Argentinian left-back.
BEMUSED BERNABEI…the Celtic left-back is penalised in game against Dundee United.
That was absurd enough, but only a week later a ball ricocheted against Matt O’Riley’s right arm as it bounced back off Ross County’s Callum Johnson who was standing right in front of the midfielder. Bizarrely, referee David Munro pointed immediately to the spot and, even more nonsensically, Euan Anderson, in the technical studio, agreed with his mindboggling judgement.
United and the Highlanders both gleefully accepted the gifts and tucked the ball behind Joe Hart at crucial stages in both games. Thankfully, the champions refused to be derailed and won the matches, 4-2 and 2-1.
THE STRIFE O’RILEY…the Celtic midfielder is penalised after a rebound from Ross County’s Callum Johnson hits his elbow. Clearly, his arm is not in an unnatural position. Both the ref and VAR official deemed it a spot-kick.
At Ibrox on Monday, referee John Beaton did not get a clear view of the incident. We’ll cut the whistler some slack here. Yes, this is the same John Beaton who refused to take any sort of punitive action against Alfredo Morelos who kicked Scott Brown, grabbed Ryan Christie in a sensitive area and trod on a grounded Anthony Ralston in a derby match back in December 2018 at the same venue.
Still, we’re fair-minded people at CQN, so we will point out that the referee was not in an advantageous position to get a proper sight at the Goldson handball. It was pandemonium in the penalty box after Aaron Mooy had swung in a left-wing corner-kick and boots and bodies were flying everywhere.
That was when Willie Collum came into play. Away from the bedlam and confusion in Govan and sitting in a Glasgow studio with multiple screens, he decided there was no infringement.
Alarmingly, Beaton was not instructed to take a look at the touchline monitor to see for himself. Beaton was the man in charge of the whistle and supposedly in control of the game.
Beaton looked almost relieved when he was told he would not be required to view the flashpoint on the sidelines and actually gave a thumb’s up sign to the fourth official when the news was relayed to him. That verges on slapstick.
THUMB’S UP…referee John Beaton signals to the fourth official.
So, once again, the champions are on the receiving end of a VAR decision that is simply risible and it is no wonder the champions will almost certainly raise major concerns over the SFA’s handling of the new technology which was only introduced to the Hoops during their match against Hearts at Tynecastle on October 22 last year.
We don’t need to illuminate the performances of Nick Walsh on the pitch and Steven McLean in the VAR studio that afternoon in Edinburgh. Thankfully, Celtic won 4-3, but the unfathomable decisions that day have simply proved to be a foundation to what we are witnessing today.
Parkhead chiefs, quite rightly, are looking for talks with Hampden officials for clarification regarding the ongoing issues surrounding the video assistant referee process.
Chris Sutton, speaking in a report in the Daily Record, put it this way: “It’s not about John Beaton not going over to have a look. He’s acting on advice he’s getting from the VAR officials and they’ve told him he’s made the correct call that it was not a penalty.
“But I find that incredible. It’s not up for debate – it WAS a penalty kick. That would have been given every single time in England. There wouldn’t even be an argument.
“Some people are saying Goldson was protecting his face, what, with his hands above his head? Come off it. That is nonsense.
“You are talking about a big, tough, centre-half, he wasn’t ducking down to protect his face. He made himself bigger. You can twist the rulebook anyway you want, but it’s down to interpretation and we’ve seen that kind of penalty all the time.
“You have to wonder what Willie Collum in the VAR hut is doing in that situation. What is he seeing? It makes you wonder, is it incompetence or did he just bottle out of making the big call?
“Who knows, but it was a terrible decision. There have been a lot of poor handball calls this season, some really stupid decisions.
“It’s all about being the arms being outside the silhouette of the body and so on, so if your arms are up where Goldson’s were, there was absolutely nowhere for the officials to go.”
On Boxing Day, in the aftermath of the crazy VAR-assisted red card for David Turnbull in the 4-1 win over St Johnstone, CQN looked ahead to the January 2 game at Ibrox.
Speaking about new technology, we asked: What can possibly go wrong?
We – and Celtic fans worldwide – got our answer.
Kilmarnock visit Parkhead on Saturday.
We repeat: What can possibly go wrong?
Watch this space.