KRIS COMMONS has made a plea for the football rulers to have another look at the handball guidelines.
The former Celtic and Scotland midfielder insists the game is in the grip of “VAR mayhem” and on the brink of being ruined as a spectacle.
Ange Postecoglou’s side have conceded FOUR penalty-kicks in as many games – all down to dodgy handball awards.
Moritz Jenz and Matt O’Riley were punished in the first 19 minutes by the French referee in the 5-1 Champions League loss to Real Madrid in the Spanish capital, Alexandro Bernabei was penalised for the ball hitting his ELBOW against Dundee United and O’Riley was again the so-called culprit when Ross County were gifted a spot-kick at the weekend.
VAR-CICAL…Celtic defender Alexandro Bernabei’s elbow is struck by Steven Fletcher’s header. Outcome? A penalty-kick to Dundee United.
All four decisions were in the contentious category and the two in the league games against the Tannadice and Dingwall clubs could be filed under ludicrous. In fact, the Hoops have now had six penalties awarded against them in seven games if you take Hearts’ double at Tynecastle on October 22 when VAR was introduced.
And we haven’t mentioned Filipe Jota’s “offside” goal against Motherwell in midweek yet!
Commons is rightly concerned and said: “Robbie Neilson called it a shambles. David Martindale admitted he doesn’t know how the game is being refereed any more. Ange Postecoglou took a vow of silence after previously making his feelings clear.
“Another weekend of Scottish football brought more VAR mayhem. Leading managers are hugely frustrated about how the system is operating after its introduction. I can understand why.
“We do have to make some allowances for it being new here. But there are a few big things that need to be sorted out. And not all of them are directly under the control of Scottish officials sitting in front of the screens.
“The time being taken to make decisions certainly is and it’s way too long. VAR also seems like it’s being called into action too often in some games.”
VAR-CICAL…Matt O’Riley is adjuged to have handled the rebound from Callum Johnson. Outcome? A penalty-kick to Ross County.
Commons, writing in his Daily Mail column, continued: “The constant interruptions are driving people mad. But the application of the handball rule is another thing entirely.
“Unless that is actually looked at again and changed back to something more reliant on common sense then a big part of the VAR problem isn’t going to change.
“Were Scottish refs really missing a glut of justifiable handball penalties before the system was introduced? I’m not sure they were, but now you can barely go a round of matches without one being awarded.
“On the previous weekend, Celtic were punished for the ball hitting Alexandro Bernabei on his trailing arm. Then we had three VAR handball penalties in Livingston’s midweek win over Aberdeen. And another one on Saturday when Matt O’Riley was penalised to give Ross County the lead at Parkhead.
“David Munro took that decision and it was upheld by VAR. But O’Riley was bang-on when he said he didn’t know what else he could have done with his body or the position of his arm.”
ONE…Luka Modric puts Real Madrid ahead from the spot with Joe Hart going the wrong way.
TWO…Rodrigo makes it 2-0 for the European champions with another from the spot.
THREE…Steven Fletcher nets Dundee United’s first equaliser with the contentious penalty-kick.
FOUR…Joe Hart is beaten again from the spot as David Cancola gives Ross County the lead.
Commons added: “It generates frustration among players. And causes a constant debate about whether it’s the right call or not. I feel the insight of an experienced, ex-professional could have value as part of the whole VAR process.
“Referees now are going by the absolute letter of the law rather than common sense. The more they look at replays, the more doubt is put in their minds.
“They’re not actually making a football decision, if you follow. It’s almost like they are drawing a picture and deciding if one box can be ticked within the rulebook to justify a penalty.
“If you have an ex-professional there, they would say: ‘Look, his arm is by his side. It’s not deviated from a natural path or stopped a goalscoring opportunity. It’s just one of those unfortunate errors.’
“Of course, the actual wording of the handball rule isn’t down to the SFA or Scottish referees. That’s a job for the international lawmakers at IFAB.
“They need to look at it. Is there intent? Is the arm position unnatural? The current view on it isn’t great for the game overall.”
I’M IN CHARGE…David Munro should take the advice of the logo on his left sleeve.
The World Cup Finals will kick off on Sunday when hosts Qatar take on Ecuador in the curtain raiser. Undoubtedly, there will be some ropey referees and VAR controllers making controversial decisions.
With the game being paraded on the globabl stage and littered with nonsensical decisions, it must be hopes the rulemakers will agree with Commons – and everyone else with an interest in the game whether in a professional capacity or a paying fan – and make the changes that are urgently required.
Alas, as we all know, common sense isn’t that common.