1 December ~ Scottish football’s latest crisis passed last weekend, once again with little credit to be dispensed. When Dundee United hosted Celtic on October 17, Celtic’s Gary Hooper seemed to be fouled in the penalty area. Referee Dougie McDonald gave a penalty but changed his mind after consulting with touchline assistant Steven Craven. After the match McDonald told Celtic manager Neil Lennon that Craven’s comments via earpiece had instigated the change. Despite Celtic winning 2-1, the issue refused to die, and finding himself served up as scapegoat Craven broke ranks and denied he’d influenced the decision. A few days later McDonald admitted this was true, but refused to resign.

Lennon’s combative playing nature hasn’t diminished in management where he’s constantly stoked arguments over contentious decisions, including the following week’s Old Firm derby. Before that match Craven had resigned his position after reporting threats to himself and his teenage sons. The Old Firm referee Willie Collum received death threats hours after denying Celtic a penalty.

Lennon is central to the issue, but it is wider. Other managers also sport chips on both shoulders, and while the Scottish FA claim to support referees, it’s very much lip service in the face of other considerations. Hooper, lest we forget a Scunthorpe player last season, proved he’d ingested a full dose of Parkhead paranoia in commenting that referees want to persecute Celtic as one of the world’s big clubs. The final straw for referees appears to have been Celtic chairman John Reid declaring that a referee who’d lied to his manager had no position retaining his post and should resign. Given these principles, one presumes as a cabinet member Reid held Tony Blair to the same standards following the Iraq invasion.

Matters peaked on November 21 when referees announced they would not officiate the following weekend’s fixtures, claiming their integrity was continually undermined. Let’s look at ourselves here. When our forward blooters a sitter over the bar, we groan or maybe swear. When a referee is presumed to have made a wrong decision the abuse continues all match, and for days afterwards in the cases when he is actually wrong, which is often not the case. And we’re the reasonable fans, not those who phone death threats.

Perhaps the most depressing aspect of the affair was the SFA’s sordid scrabble to solicit referees from abroad without fully informing them of the reasons for the strike. Irish and Scandinavian officials turned down the opportunity to be abused in Scotland, and when Portuguese and Polish replacements were confirmed the SFA declined to name them. The Poles announced a day later they wouldn’t be travelling, while the Portuguese contingent actually set foot in Glasgow airport before returning home.

When questioned by reporters Alan Hamer, the referee from Luxembourg who took charge of Celtic’s match with Inverness, admitted he’d not known why he was required, and had he known he might not have participated. Other Saturday SPL matches were covered by officials from Israel and Malta. They passed without major incident, and the SFA were spared further embarrassment as the weather put paid to Sunday fixtures. On Sunday McDonald announced his immediate retirement, aged 45. Frank Plowright

Comments (40)
Comment by jimdo 2010-12-01 11:06:40

Did you actualy do any research before writing this?

Comment by ZoltanBuchan 2010-12-01 11:12:22

Great to see a member of the Blair Cabinet questioning someone else's integrity. Looks like satire just lost another life.

Comment by edtomball 2010-12-01 11:13:48

Before that match Craven had resigned his position after reporting threats to himself and his teenage sons. The Old Firm referee Willie Collum received death threats hours after denying Celtic a penalty. -Craven resigned not because of deaths threats but because he was being made a scapegoat by McDonald, Dallas who repeated the lie and the SFA. In a Sunday Mail article in which the whistleblowing linesman spoke out for the first time, he clearly stated that it was not physical threats that caused to resign ""I decided to quit a few days later. I'd had enough of Hugh Dallas and John Fleming (the SFA referee development officer)." The story regarding threats to ref's person's has come from the SFA and happened again after Willie Collum gave a penalty to rAngers without seeing the player go down. If Collum received a abusive telephone call (one) after the match why did the Police not follow this up by tracing the call.

The story of death threats and physical abuse behind the referees strike have been fabricated and any journalist worth their salt would do well to investigate this. If it is so, how many referees have reported their safety being at risk to the Police, the SFA or their work place HR (if it is the case that they are receiving them there). Why have the SFA not acted on these death/physical threats before now? Why alledgedly, did the Head of Referees Hugh Dallas bargain with the Chief of the SFA to call off the strike if the charge of him sending sectarian and offensive emails were dropped?

If you tell a lie often enough and for long enough it will go around the world and end up the truth. There is not one British journalist out there willing to ask searching questions on this.

Comment by StanW 2010-12-01 11:20:36

This is a disappointingly researched article.

For example, Craven did not resign after reporting threats. The "threats" story was pushed by the Scottish media and denied by Craven himself in an interview with Mark Guidi in the Sunday Mail. He resigned due to "lies and bullying" within the SFA referees department.

Part of the interview is here:

Similarly the "threats" against Collum remain unsubstantiated - e.g. there are no police reports nor direct quotes from the ref. (Incidentally if you have a look at the footage of the penalty that he awarded you will see that he had his back to play.)

Returning to the game at Tannadice, the strongest post-match complaints against referee McDonald came from the Dundee Utd (and Scotland assistant) manager Peter Houston. Indeed McDonald referenced Houston - and not Lennon - in his resignation statement.

Finally the matter of the foreign referees. It would have given some balance had you mentioned that the SPL and SFA have stated that the incoming refs were aware of the situation. The Polish referees did not travel as their FA decided they were needed at home; of the four-man party from Portugal two did turn back but two did not (in the end the match at which they were due to officiate was cancelled due to the weather).

When commenting on Scottish football matters it is best not to merely take the word of the Scottish media.

Comment by Carntyne 2010-12-01 11:33:23

"Lennon is central to the issue, but it is wider. Other managers also sport chips on both shoulders, and while the Scottish FA claim to support referees, it’s very much lip service in the face of other considerations."

The above quote from your article is very revealing.

It suggests that Frank Plowright knows very little about Scottish football or has a chip on his shoulder all of his own.

Sectarian discrimination by SOME referees in Scotland, many of whom have admitted to being Rangers supporters, has long been suspected by Celtic supporters; decisions like the one at Tannadice which happen not infrequently the cause of that suspicion.

This article like the majority of articles in the Scottish media, manages to deflect from man in black McDonald's self admitted lies
and somehow turn the blame onto Neil Lennon.

A classic tactic of those who practice discrimination.

Blame those discriminated against!

Celtic football club has called for the system used in English football, where referees must state which club they support or have supported.

No one in their right mind would expect a referee to officiate in a competetive international game involving his own country, but here in Scotland the SFA and Scottish media think it's perfectly acceptable to have referees and assistants having control of a game involving Rangers, even though they have admitted to supporting Rangers.

The excuses as to why we cannot adopt the English model have been as diverse and inventive as they have been numerous.

"We are too small a country."

"We won't have enough referees if we ban people from refereeing a team they have supported from boyhood."

"This suggestion questions the integrity of referees!" (indeed!)

"Celtic and their supporters should forget this silly idea and move on."

To further discrimination I suppose!

Comment by Admin5 2010-12-01 11:35:32


Comment by StanW 2010-12-01 11:38:56

Sorry, Admin5, lesson learned.

No need to shout, btw :-)

Comment by Admin5 2010-12-01 11:41:20

Sorry - it was so it stood out from the debate

Comment by MrYahboo 2010-12-01 11:56:55

Oh dear. I no longer live in the UK and haven't done for some time now so it's been a while since I've read it and I have to say I'm very disappointed if this article is indicative your output regurgitating, as it does, the same old unresearched "facts" of this issue as the mainstream media.

"Craven had resigned his position after reporting threats to himself and his teenage sons"

No such threats were made nor indeed reported by Craven. This much was clear even days before his resignation was made official although he categorically stated that he'd received no threats or intimidation when he went public with his story in the Daily Record.

"Hooper, lest we forget a Scunthorpe player last season, proved he’d ingested a full dose of Parkhead paranoia in commenting that referees want to persecute Celtic as one of the world’s big clubs."

Hooper's comments were foolish in my opinion. Sometimes players should stick to playing and leave the talking to others. However, it's interesting that since making those remarks he's received three bookings in a handful of games. This for a player that received just two bookings in nearly 100 games at Scunthorpe.

"Given these principles, one presumes as a cabinet member Reid held Tony Blair to the same standards following the Iraq invasion."

Reid's appointment was and remains unpopular with a large portion of Celtic's support. His comments, however, were on behalf of Celtic F.C..

"When a referee is presumed to have made a wrong decision the abuse continues all match, and for days afterwards in the cases when he is actually wrong, which is often not the case. And we’re the reasonable fans, not those who phone death threats."

You see - right there was your opportunity to adhere to the original ethos of WSC by asking the questions of this affair that the mainstream media have so far completely failed to do.

For example, where is the evidence that Scottish referees have recieved significantly more abuse than their colleagues elsewhere in the world? If it isn't the case that the abuse in Scotland is worse then why aren't referees all over the world withdrawing their labour?

Why did the referees choose now to act? Cutting through all the innuendo and inference is has been patently obvious that their action was directed at one club - Celtic - so what have Lennon, Hooper and Reid done or said that is so much worse than past comments from Houston (ironically directed against McDonald after the very game that started this whole affair), Smith, Levein (now national squad manager), Jeffries, Brown and so on?

I think I can answer that last question but I'll leave you with the opportunity of proving that you are capable and prepared to stick your heads above the parapet as a truly alternative football voice and either ask it yourselves. Or even provide some possible answers.

Comment by MrYahboo 2010-12-01 11:58:26

*Apologies - I said the Daily Record when I should have said the Sunday Mail (which is the Sunday version of the Record). My bad.*

Comment by edtomball 2010-12-01 11:58:42

Did Plowright forget to mention that 80% of referees recently failed an exam on the laws of the game? Only 5 paased the exam.

According to the report in the Sunday Mail Dallas was taken aback by the findings but with the standard of refereeing plunging season by season under his leadership the results won’t surprise many supporters.

Dallas already admitted last season that the standard of refereeing was unacceptable.

A pass mark of 80% was required from the exam but it seems that more than half of the refs scored 70% or less with one score of under 50% recorded.

While common sense and an appreciation of the game are acquired through experience it is breathtaking that so many referees are unaware of the basic laws of the game.

According to the report the referee that scored less than 50% was sent an email stating: “This is unacceptable. We will inform the Referee Committee of your results in the test.

“Concerns will be raised about your lack of knowledge and understanding of the Laws of the Game.

“The Development Department will furnish you with a test paper as a matter of urgency and you will sit it under examination conditions.”

These are the guys that are going on strike and the blame is being put on Neil Lennon. One manager and the only person in SPL football who has actually been assaulted.

Comment by Alex Anderson 2010-12-01 12:16:32

Good piece, Frank and the blizzard of ketteling e-mails you're receiving for "daring" to write a common sense piece on the affair are as much evidence as anyone requires of the conditions in which referees are forced to work in Scotland. Absolute hysteria from oru Celtic friends.

I wouldn't mind so much if they were just at it but the genuine belief of moral vilification is very apparent in these e-mails. Delusional in extremis. Or maybe it's just fear - and a classic case of judging everyone else's actions by the standards of your own. It seems "fair play" and "objectivity" is a myth. Well, not in my world.

Apparently if you're a Rangers supporter you're not allowed to be a ref. Jezus H Dallas! ... ye couldnae make it up.

And unless you can provide blood samples and DNA swabs of the abusers of a linesman's family then you're obviously part of an Imperialist plot to undermine Celtic FC, Frank. I hope it's a better plot than the last one, by the way, which seems to have allowed them to win 42 league titles and A European cup amongst other things in a 122 year odds-defeating existence.

The forensically skewed analysis of your every line by most of the plumbs above ("The above quote from your article is very revealing" - ie, "we know what we want you to REALLY mean, Frank and we'll pick out the letters from your piece which'll prove it ... if we can just re-arrange them in the correct order" :-)) illustrates exactly what Refs are up against in Scotland. If it's reported in the media, it's a lie. If Anyone supported Rangers ever, they're a liar. If a guy wears black - he's a liar. And questioning the integrity of referees is a god-given duty - a right of birth - rather than something we all do in the heat of the moment but, on sober reflection, realise is preposterous.

Why the hell would ANYONE want to referee in Scotland when this is the kind of instant hysterical reaction you get for merely inferring that last weekend was a bit embarrassing for our game. And did the media "imagine" the TV images of Neil Lennon's insultingly threatening, borderline psychotic reaction to ultimately CORRECT decisions at Tannadice and Tynecastle. All managers have a go - all managers have a gripe and get sent to the stand - Lennon is nose-to-nose with these guys, snarling as if about to glass them. And then he's demanding apogies for lies in an administrative document which has nothing to do with him like some heart-broken sweetie wife. No other manager has done so much in such a short space of time to question referees' objectivity - the only thing they have - and no-one has received such backing from his chairman.

Dougie McDonald lied. Didn't affect the result or the correctness of his decision at Tannadice. But the fact he lied is being clung to with all the puritanical bullying of the tabloids these posters here love to hate. I know another referee who used to tell his kids teh tooth fairy putthat money under their pillow, and that Santa Claus bought all those presents. I have witnesses. He lied - and he lie to HIS OWN CHILDREN!! He'd better apologise or I want him to resign. I remember Neillennon feigning injury as a player and getting an Inverness player sent off at Pittodrie - but if I was to set Neil's character in stone by that incident I'd be persecuting the lad, no doubt. Damn right I would be - so please apply the same use of reason and context to Dougie McDonald's far less sheinous faux pas.

When will the Celtic hystericals realise they're being played by their own Chairman and manager? The Masonic myth miasma alwys comes out to cloud things at VERY handy moments - like when you've got Ragers at home the next weekend, like when Rangers give you a goal start but still cruise through you, like when Hearts do you at Tynecastle, like when the Green Brigade has been mounting a years-long campaign to oust you as chairman. Play the galleries, Neil - play to the galleries, John.

Medieval - so it bl**dy is.

McDonald lied but - christ - wouldn't you if you knew THAT was waiting for you when you left the pitch and when you went home.

Comment by Alex Anderson 2010-12-01 12:17:20

As a player, Neil Lennon was great at starting a rammy when things were going against Celtic - he'd kop a booking but he'd knock the opposition out their stride and suddenly Celtic were back in the game. Nothing wrong with that - good old-fashioned football psychology and fun to watch. But as a manager he's adapting the same tactics to an entire season. He's just broken it up. He's not management material yet - a very skint Rangers team are exposing that as well as everyone else of any calibre they encounter - and so he's starting a rammy and bringing the whole season to a halt. He and Reid pushed refs over the edge and our football stopped this weekend. Ironic that Celtic's was one of only 4 SPl games to go ahead - even without the snow, lennon demonstrated he'll burn the whole house down about us rather than see anyone else win.

But the beauty of his pseudo-political stance is that all of what I've just said can be written off in one simple word: Bigotry. Coz, ye see, I don't support Celtic and - worst of all - I support Rangers. Therefore I MUST be evil and I CERTAINLY have an agenda.

Comment by StanW 2010-12-01 12:27:26

Thanks for your input, Alex Anderson.

Comment by MrYahboo 2010-12-01 12:42:19

@Alex Anderson

"And unless you can provide blood samples and DNA swabs of the abusers of a linesman's family .."

No - said linesman claiming he'd been abused or threatened would be a start. But he didn't - an SFA "source" briefed journalists with this titbit when it became known he was about to resign. The linesman (Craven) is on record categorically denying he had received ANY abuse or threats. But the briefer knew exactly what he or she was doing of course and once in the public domain, this disimformation has been accepted as fact and repeated. If you tell a lie often enough it becomes true.

"Dougie McDonald lied. Didn't affect the result or the correctness of his decision at Tannadice."

You're right, the eventual decision was INcorrect. It was a penalty twice over.

Comment by ZoltanBuchan 2010-12-01 12:50:16

Christ I'm glad I moved down to England. For the record, most people down here had no idea of how paranoid Celtic were; they do now though, and you're a laughing stock.

Comment by Coral 2010-12-01 13:03:07

I whole heartedly back that Zoltan. I thought it was just a little thing that Celtic thought they were paranoid but was laughed off. The barrage of posts on here shows that they really are genuinely paranoid. All I remember was Chris Sutton announcement after a game he hadn't watched that the team Rangers were playing on the day they won the title couldn't have tried.
In England we think the Refs are biased in favour of the big four, in Scotland against the big one. Amazing stuff. I remember the days when people could just watch a game of football because it was a game of football and they enjoyed watching the football. With this and the recent World Cup bid scandals it saddens me to see what this simple game I play on a Sunday, which involves kicking a ball into a goal with 21 other people, has become.

Comment by MrYahboo 2010-12-01 13:05:55

Examples of Celtic paranoia:-

"I cannot form an accurate opinion on how Rangers played, as the referee was clearly biased in their favour.” - Louis van Gaal, who was manager of Ajax at the time, after watching a match at Ibrox, Rangers v Hibs.

"Right now there is a question mark over the standard of our refereeing, and it affects the SPL table. After the last Old Firm game Hugh Dallas had to defend the referee [Craig Thomson]. But the result of that match might have been different had the ref got the big decisions correct. At the end of the season Celtic could look back and say, ‘That result cost us the title.’ The fact is, if no one speaks up, then nothing will change.” Assuming the worst Celtic would have gained a draw with 2 or 3 penalties being awarded." - Jim Gannon (at the time, manager of Motherwell).

"I feel that because Rangers at Ibrox, going for the title, people say 'we can't have United winning that one. But who cares about Dundee United when Rangers have an important game which could determine the league championship?" - Craig Levein (current Scotland manager, then Dundee United).

link to full interview:-

"We've all been there, we've all come to Ibrox and said "why do Rangers get everything?"" - TERRY BUTCHER, commenting on Levein's interview.

"We watch games, we go to games and we see clips on the BBC and we see a different set of rules getting applied. None more so than when we're coming here (to Ibrox).” - Gus McPherson (then St. Mirren manager).

"I think we'll have to put it down to another honest mistake" - Neil Lennon after the Dundee United away game which included the DougieDougie incident.

Oh yes, it's all the fault of Celtic paranoia.

Comment by Alex Anderson 2010-12-01 13:14:47

Yahboo - sorry, I'm lost with that,reply of yours mate. I say that because it kinda sounds like you think Celtic SHOULD have had a penalty at Tannadice? You don't actually think it WAS a penalty do you - when Pernis got to the ball first and Hooper was looking at the ref before he even hit the deck?

I mean it was tight at first sight - which is why I don't blame McDonald for awarding it and applaud his bravery in reversing the decision (something you no doubt wanted Willie Column to do the following Sunday, when Kirk Boradfoot clearly dived for a Rangers penlty which, again, shouldn't have been given - but after yer manager had made such a big case about how Linesmen shouldn't be allowed to over-rule refs' initial decisions you were kinda ham-strung) but replays show it clearly WASN'T a pen.

If we can't agree on that then I'm afraid your little meditative chant about "telling a lie often enough" is conclusive proof of my earlier point - that you're judging others by your own standards: Although, to be fair, I don't think any amount of lying coud deflect from the fact Pernis went for the ball and got it.

Please tell me you don't think that was a penalty at Tannadice - then we can chat.

Comment by edtomball 2010-12-01 13:24:42

Alex if it was not a penalty for Kenneth's tug on Hooper then it was for Pernis challenge which took him through Hooper to get to the ball. If you would like to check, it was a carbon copy of the same penalty that Rangers got by Dougie MacDonald in the 3-3 League Cup draw at Ibrox a season ago. DougieDougie obviously thought it was a penalty, ever sane person could see that too, even after replays.

Comment by MrYahboo 2010-12-01 13:33:53

Alex, my opinion on the Pernis challenge has changed quite a few times as I've watched it over and over which just goes to show how "marginal" it was, whichever way McDonald eventually decided to go. A difficult for any ref and if it had been given AGAINST Celtic I'd've been disappointed without doubt. However, after repeated veiwings, I am now 100% certain that Hooper got a touch BEFORE Pernis did. Some claim that Pernis didn't get a touch at all which I disagree with. Furthermore, apparently in the modern game whether Pernis got to the ball first (let alone at all) or not is irrelevant as there was no way he could get there without completely taking Hooper out. This is what Graham Poll said - he is of the opinion that it was a penalty. However, Poll's opinion is not one I would necessarily have a great deal of respect for and, even if he's correct, I think it's a sad thing about football today that the physical aspect is all but disappearing from it.

All that being said, I do think it was a penalty after having looked at the challenge a great many times.

Furthermore, the "challenge(s)" by Kenneth immediately leading up to Pernis's challenge was a stonewaller and should also have been a direct red. So two "incidents" in one - something that seems to have been airbrushed from many reports recently, especially from those claiming that the eventual decision was correct.

Lennon didn't say that linesmen shouldn't overrule decisions by the way. When referring specifically to the Dundee United incident in his post-match interview he said (words to the effect of, can't be arsed getting the clip up again); "it was strange, the linesman immediately took up his position behind the goal for a penalty so why did the ref go over there?".

There you have it - two penalties, one a stonewaller and a direct red, the other debatable but in all sincerity, I think it was a foul.

Comment by Afrikaams 2010-12-01 13:50:54

This is all old news now. I want to know when Stewart Regan is resigning, after all he told those scab refs lies over why they were needed. What's good for the goose.

So if refs were made to announce which team they supported would they not be able to officiate when that club was playing or when that clubs biggest rivals were playing, or both? Perhaps we can make a list of clubs fans we don't want refereeing our matches?

Comment by Escape from Alcaraz 2010-12-01 13:55:45

If Celtic paranoia does exist, then it has been equally met by those who would argue for a Fenian conspiracy at the heart of the SFA that has seen Hugh Dallas removed from his post and the referee at the centre of recent controversies retired.

Dallas's moment of satirical comment breached the SFA's established code of conduct regarding sending e-mails that could cause offence. Similar guidelines have been applied in publicly accountable bodies for the best part of a decade (speaking as a civil servant, I know for a fact I would have been dismissed had I sent this joke on). In spite of the widespread reporting of the Catholic society's letter to Stewart Regan calling for Dallas's dismissal, Regan was determined to treat this as a strictly internal matter and would not be drawn on Dallas's future whilst the enquiry was ongoing.

And Regan had publicly backed McDonald, pointing out that he had been punished for his actions once and would not be hauled over the coals a second time. And yet, 72 hours later McDonald chose to retire, which seems odd given that it would appear on the surface that it was his post-Tannadice treatment that led to the strike in the first place. You would think that the support of his colleagues would have been enough for Dougie to continue, but with Dallas out of the picture then McDonald chose to jump ship. Make of that what you will.

Comment by frisnit 2010-12-01 14:08:33

The Kenneth challenge did look a bit dubious in the replays, but it's hardly a stone-waller. Hooper did something similar in order to score a goal recently, but it was seen as great strength.

The Pernis challenge on the other hand was a clear save. It was especially obvious from where I sat (admittedly in a United stand) because the deflection the ball took was more obvious than the replays showed. It's very rare to see a penalty when the keeper gets there first, although it was close.

As soon as McDonald blew his whistle we were thinking "here we go again", and despite the criticism above, Houston called it right saying something like "he couldn't wait to give that penalty against us". The reason McDonald made a mistake was because he was too quick to whistle, and kudos to him for coming to the same conclusion and rescinding it when he realised. There was no anti-Celtic agenda there, he knew he'd get crucified much more for rescinding it than he'd ever get for just adding to the United hard-luck stories!

Lennon's actions and words on the sideline were indefensible and are the kind of trigger that can lead to violence. He's meant to lead by example, but his swearing and cheat accusations showed that he doesn't understand that yet. I'm not sure he will even after a lengthy ban

Comment by canarly 2010-12-01 14:27:17

I'm a celtic fan , think it was a penalty by kenneth if not pernis. im fed up of this all now and just want to say the referees shafted small teams by striking....Cowdenbeath vs unfermline derby cancelled. Elgin vs Berwick resceduled for a week night in december? as if things werent dire enough

Comment by MrYahboo 2010-12-01 14:35:41


Kenneth's challenge was a foul, a penalty and a direct red for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity. You are honestly the first person I've heard disagreeing with that.

Hooper got to the ball before Pernis. This is clearly shown when you look carefully at the replay which, in my opinion, makes it a penalty. Pernis made an honest, if desperate, attempt to get the ball and therefore was not deserving of a card but if you accept that Hooper getting to the ball first would have made it a penalty then a penalty it was. Because he did.

As for Lennon's "swearing and cheat accusations" - if a team is awarded a penalty and the referee changes his mind near the end of a crucial game with the scores level, I reckon even the most mild-mannered manager would be hopping about the technical areal like a lunatic. Did he swear at the time? I've no idea but if he did, so f**kin what? Jesus, it's football FFS! On what evidence do you base your assertion that Lennon called the ref a cheat though?

Comment by MrYahboo 2010-12-01 14:48:21

Oh, and frisnit, what was your opinion of Craig Levein's comments after that Rangers game?

Comment by Coral 2010-12-01 14:55:21

Oops, thought I'd walked into the pub there with pub bores talking about decisions from endless TV replays and some nonsense about bias to certain teams. Turns out I'd actually logged on to the usually decent WSC

Comment by MrYahboo 2010-12-01 15:15:22


Ok mate, I've been a wee bit sidetracked but the original reason for my getting involved was that the "usually decent" WSC had chosen to run with an article on the refereeing situation in Scotland without actually adding anything fresh to the ongoing debate. Worse, in fact, the article repeated the asertion that the linesman (Craven) had resigned because of abuse and threats that he and/or his family had recieved after the penalty incident at Tannadice (by inference, these threats had come from disgruntled Celtic supporters). This assertion is KNOWN to be untrue. The (ex) linesman himself is on record denying that he received any such threats and that he resigned for two reasons - first, he was falsely made the scapegoat for the penalty incident and secondly he claimed a culture of bullying in Scottish refereeing which stemmed, in the main, from Hugh Dallas the head of the SFA referee's committee (now resigned or sacked, nobody's sure which).

Following on from this, the decision by some of the country's referees to refuse to officiate games in Scotland last weekend was ostensibly in protest at the abuse and intimidation recieved from managers, players and supporters (again, the unspoken reality is that they were pissed of with Celtic F.C. alone), despite there being little or no evidence that there has been a great deal of abuse and certainly nothing to suggest any recent increase.

Of course, the fact that a referee lied to a football manager about a decision and then repeated that lie in his written report with the complicity of three other officials and that he then told his boss (Dallas) what was going on and that his boss then went along with the lie is going to cause controversy. And of course the club concerned (yes, Celtic) is going to want an explanation and an apology at the very least. Wouldn't any club feel the same way?

I'm sorry if this is boring to you but as a Celtic supporter I'm sick of my club and its supporters being blamed for the collective throwing out of pram toys by Scottish referees.

Comment by Alex Anderson 2010-12-01 17:50:56

Mr yahboo - After all that, I honestly can't believe you can't be bothered looking up the quote/clip/whatever in reference to Lennon's comments on anything. I'm sure you must have it tattooed , frame by frame onto the inside of your brain by now. And I 100% absolutely believe you've watched the penalty incident at Tannadice as often as you had to to convince yourself it was a penalty. You've gone mate - I'm sorry but you've absolutely gone.

Ses, the rest of us can do eeh same thing - list every perceived slight or caught-on-camera injustice since we first started watching football (from Joe Miller's winner in the 1989 Cup final coming from a shy which should clearly have gone to Rangers to Michael Mols being assaulted time and time again off the ball by Bobo Balde in the 2002/03 League Cup final - to Nakamura's dodgy free-kick winner at Love Street the last time Celtic went on to win the title) but, like me right now, we all feel kinda embarrassed to remember that kinda stuff, far less listing them as some evidence of an institutionalised plot against our club. Basically, we can't be bothered because we know this stuff happens to all clubs and, especially clubs the size of Rangers and Celtic find these things even themseves out - I've also seen horrendous decisions going our way and am happy to talk about them.

But the moment I start saying things like "Yeah and what about Glen loovns ripping his studs down Mo Edu or - if we're being specific about the Tannadice game - what about Loovens kopping a booking from the ref for his intimidation of the linesman and then turning round and giving the guy another full volley and being allowed to remain on the pitch" but that's just off the top of my head and,frankly, I can't be bothered going through every game with a scalpel, looking for instances where United can claim to have been wronged - but I could and I guarantee you they would have more to feel aggreived about over the yers than Celtic have: they just don't get the same amount of publicity and frankly, they just don't get in Celtic's box often enough for the bad decisons to seem so controversial and match-changing.

You're getting it the wrong way round, mate - you're angry first and then only noting stuff which backs up your anger. There's no objectivity coming from you and, I repeat, that will be why you can't beleieve referees are objective. Yet you seem to be taking as gospel the opinions of the most partisan people in football - MANAGERS, be they of Ajax Motherwell or whoever.

Even you can't listen to EVERY interview Neil Lennon gives after a game and all I know is I heard him saying to someone, something along the lines of "I thought a referee's decision was final - it shouldn't matter what a linesman says when he's already awarded a penalty". I remember because it was ludicrous and I remember because of what happened seven days later. But another 5 minutes in your company and i will believe Neil Lennon has never spoken in public, is actually mute, and all referees are aliens from another planet with designs on using all Earthlings as a livestock colony. You REALLY need to get some perspective mate. For your own sake if nowt else.

I know your reaction will be "oh yes - dimsiss the truth-bringer as insane because YOU can't handle the truth he brings" but - really mate - have a look at what you're doing. Using the quotes of JIM GANNON and CRAIG LEVEIN to try and form any kind of argument is self-defeating in the extreme and analaysing every game for any sign of any incident you think is open to interpretation or even possibly genuinely went against celtic incorrectly is proving exactly why Lennon's being so cruel to you guys - he knows your mind-set is out there, ready to go viral amongst the Celtic support and he's using it to work you all into a frenzy. You're being played mate.

Look - you're composing dossiers there - actual dossiers of any decision you think went against Celtic and of any quote from any manager who says something which plays into your crazed agenda. Gannon was too crazy for even Motherwell - his own players and board lost it with him and he had to go and he went to Peterborough and got weird with them too. Levein is the man who said a linesman at Rugby Park should give the crowd their money back coz he got a split-second decision wrong in a game United lost yet Levein could beat the Old Firm but lost home and away to Gretna and then hamilton in successive seasons, without offering any refunds.

That was the MID-NINETIES we played Ajax for fu*8s sake - and you STILL have that Van Gaal quote to hand??!! The fact he might have been trying to pressure the ref for Ajax's game at Ibrox never occurred to you?

This is depressing stuff mate. Depressing stuff. And very worrying because your rantings have now become policy at Parkhead.

Comment by Alex Anderson 2010-12-01 17:59:39

Oh God and Graham poll too -you're referencing Graham "three yellows" Poll!! Yahboo - gods' sake pal - you're at the wind up, aren't you. And you've got me hook, line ...

Comment by Tubbsy 2010-12-01 18:51:37

So, the referees went on strike just to have a go at Celtic then? As a trade union member, I thought withdrawing your labour (& losing money) was a serious issue, one where you'd explored all avenues of redress & were left with no other option to make your voice heard. From some of the posts above, it would appear not.

Comment by Johnnyf50 2010-12-01 19:56:44

As a former category 1 referee, born and bred in Scotland, refereed in England and Holland, and now living in Australia, I have been most perturbed at the drop in standards of Scottish refereeing over recent seasons. The fact is that referees have to be above reproach if they wish to be respected.

The sad fact is that in the SPL, too many referees make incorrect, or dubious decisions, that more often than not tend to benefit one club. Even more worrying is the fact that it appears to be the same referees over and over again. in the two most talked about incidents, Willie Collum gave a penalty that he could not possibly have seen. Craig Thomson, in another match, fails to award a penalty for handball, and nobody else in the stadium thought it wasn't a foul - and these are not an isolated incidents by any means.

Dougie McDonald is an entirely different situation. Not only did he repeatedly lie about how and why he changed his mind, he tried to blame someone else for it.

The Dallas issue is more about a failure to do the job he was paid for - i.e. develop refereeing skills and standards - participating in McDonald's deception and then trying to extricate himself from the email incident by attempting blackmail.

All in all, I think, a scenario that paints a pretty black picture of the state of Scottish football referees. I'm surprised that most people fail to see that there is a deep sickness in the Scottish football establishment that has to be cut out.

The first target for surgery must be sectarianism and sympathies guided by that prejudice.

Comment by Afrikaams 2010-12-01 21:26:40

Oh, right you are Johnnyf50, a dislike of Celtic is 'sectarianism' now is it?

Comment by Fat Cockney 2010-12-02 06:14:56

Well, you got the headline right.

Comment by Throughandthrough 2010-12-02 09:18:03

Just goes to show that lazy journalism isn't just a disease of the succulent lamb loving NUJ card carriers in Scotland.

Comment by Gibby23 2010-12-02 15:59:07

Mr Magoo is only doing what most CFC supporters do. Attach religious and political beliefs along with their football team.

He mentions using the EPL system of asking refs what team they supported growing up but i'm sure the next question asked of these refs isn't - and are you a member of any lodge or orange order, have you ever been in the BB's and eh what school did ye go to. It'd be like a job interview from the 50's. In a sad turn of events we've had to bring in refs from another country because our current crop of refs, in a desperate bid to gain control of the situation feel striking will help them achieve this . I was surprised at not one mention from the CFC fans about the neat offide goal that wasn't given in the ICT game. Surely this ref is in on it as well after all his national flag is red , white and blue !!!

Let's face it there's a huge gulf in standard. One guy gets paid £850 a game whilst the other could be on 25k. One works at his trade full time whilst the other has to fit it in with a full time job.(god forgiven him should he be teaching at a St Thomas's or St Francis). I wonder how much is collectively spent by SPL teams on youth development against what is spent on ref developement.

Players & managers cheat. Dougie McD made a right James Hunt of it and can be seen saying ‘it’s my fault’ as he walks away from the linesman. The fact he lied about how he came to overturn the decision is school boy stuff. He should’ve admitted his guilt, fell on his sword and took his punishment but by not doing so has opened a can or worms that maybe in truth needed opening.

We need to get back to basics maybe even learning from the egg chasers way of reffing a game ! It’s 22 men against 1 on a pitch these days. The man in the middle has to make decisions based on a milliseconds viewing. He has 2/3 officials to aid him in his job who after the last few weeks will do less to get involved now. What if a ref and his linesmen were to run onto the pitch, surround a player that had dived and started to shout and ball in his face. They’d be outcry. We need to get back to respecting the refs in our game before they could ever give it back. Surely the love of the game is the debate. I'm involved in grass roots football and i want my football reffed as close as to the senior football as possible without the need for cameras and action replays.

If there was the by line officials in the France Ireland game would T Henry's goal have stood ? or lampards goal given in the WC2010 . I know UEFA are taking steps to help refs without the need for technical intervention but scandalous accusations/threats/religious finger pointing and touchline rants from people who know the game more than most doesn't exactly help.

Comment by Insert witty username 2010-12-02 20:53:36

It's both tempting and intellectually healthy to be sceptical about conspiracy theories, and Celtic fans, like any other set of supporters are hardly objective. Yet as an outsider who's lived in the West of Scotland and had the chance to witness first hand the cosy good ol' boy (or should I say "good auld boy") mentality prevalent in the region, I find it hard not to nod cynically every time "the greatest Scottish institution afer the Church of Scotland" (according to some sycophant) gets an easy ride. One would need to make an effort to find a referee in Scotland who hasn't got "the right credentials".

The attention referees get in Scotland pales in comparison with the treatment they get in countries like Spain, where decisions are analysed for days after the games from every angle with the help of ever new visual aids, and a whole industry exists consisting of former referees acting as "refereeing pundits". Yet such a puerile strike would be received there with derision, rotten eggs and cries of "don't let the door hit you on your way out".

Comment by StanW 2010-12-02 22:45:47


"I was surprised at not one mention from the CFC fans about the neat offide goal that wasn't given in the ICT game."

Murphy was offside so there's nothing to mention.

Comment by Alex Anderson 2010-12-03 11:36:08

Hot off the PA wire:

In the latest blow to the domestic game in Scotland, SPL groundsmen are currently locked in negotiations with the SFA and the arbitration service ACAS in a bid to avert the strike declared for the weekend after next. It seems those who tend the pitches in Scotland have had enough of what their spokesman described as "the continual inference that the ball doesn't always run the way certain clubs want it to". It's believed the groundsmen have become frustrated at the tide of criticism levelled at them by some Scottish clubs and from Rangers FC in particular.

Rangers manager Walter Smith last month declared his side didn't get "the rub of the green" when dropping two points to newly promoted Inveness Caledonian Thistle. Liam Miller's opening goal for Hibs in the Edinburgh club's recent 3-0 win at Ibrox, came when his shot took a strange bounce before deceiving Rangers keeper Allan MacGregor. Smith, who was seen throwing an idle pitch-fork in the direction of a 75-year-old horticulturalist at half-time, was at pains to point out in his post-match press conference that "Allan MacGregor is an international goalie and a Manchester United signing target - he doesn't lose that kind of goal by accident. We all saw how that ball bounced. Hibs' next two goals probably wouldn't have happened if it hadn't been for yet another bad bounce in a season of bad bounces!".

Rangers were booed from the field that night and club Chairman Alastair Johnston refused to criticise the fans, saying "the grass is always greener over there". Most observers took this to be a clear reference to Hibernian's Irish roots and the Ibrox pitch's pro-Hibernian bias. When pushed on the matter Smith pointedly pointed out the point that "Easter Road was famous for its slope, which always gave Hibs a great advantage for at least 45 minutes in every home game. Just because they re-laid the pitch and levelled out the slope a few years ago it doesn't mean it isn't still going on. You work it out. I just have to ask one question - what colour is grass and what colour do Celtic play in? Okay, that's two questions but nuff said. I want an apology from that groundsman for making me throw that pitch fork at him. He said he'd mowed every blade of grass twice before the game but the minute I dropped the pitch fork from his throat he ran off and asked his junior groundman to cover up the fact he only mowed it once. I don't like being lied to. Nuff said. I'm hurt and he should resign. I just want to talk about the game."

The media are also being blamed by the groundsmen for what they see as unhelpfully selective analysis of individual patches of grass or isolated pitches. One ground-keeper who wished to remain anonymous said "We were mocked for the state of the Fir Park pitch over the last few years but no-one pointed out that Motherwell had been forced to ground-share with Gretna for a whole season - and a very rainy season at that. It's okay for them up in the gantry, looking at sixteen camera angles showing the pitch from a distance and asking why it isn't 100% flat and pure green. But they aren't down here, seeing the poor drainage and the untold damage it does to the seeds and roots. My children were threatened at school - their class-mates taunted them with names like 'mud-mower' and 'sapling-strangeler' and I received death threats from Gretna fans who blamed me for the fact they went out of business".

Celtic FC refused to be drawn into the debate but president of the We Care More Than You Celtic Supporters Club, Forbes Findlayson, says "What about Europe? If there's a groundsmen's conspiracy against Rangers in Scotland and they're talking about bringing in foreign groundsmen, they're clearly forgetting they just got pumped 3-0 by Valencia. And the Mestalla pitch was a total disgrace, by the way. What Rangers are forgetting is that without pitches, no-one in Scotland can play football. Or maybe they'd rather no-one played than anyone else won."

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