So today is AGM day at Celtic Park, and on the agenda of the shareholders was the contentious issue that is Scottish refereeing.
Joe McHugh describes in his afternoon article over on Videocelts exactly what happened during the exchanges about Scottish referees.
That’s why I found it amusing to discover an article in today’s Record, in which SFA chief Mike Mulraney is singing the praises of Scottish referees and VAR.
By coincidence, or by design?
Well, it’s interesting that it was published this morning in advance of the AGM, because refereeing standards are always a subject of discussion at the AGM.
Discussion being the operative word.
Because nothing else ever seems to happen other than discussions.
Which generate newspaper headlines and then just end up being forgotten about.
Not by the fans, but by the board.
Reading this morning’s article in the Record, you would think that UEFA should be sending referees here to learn how it’s done.
Mike Mulraney thinks Scottish referees are doing an “amazing” job.
He believes our game compares favourably to other leagues across Europe.
Would these be European leagues where referees don’t have to declare their allegiances, one wonders?
Apparently an independent panel of ex-professionals gave Scottish referees the thumbs up.
I note they are not named.
We are not told where they once refereed, but I guess they were an independent panel of professionals, and that’s enough info for you.
But it was what Mulraney had to say that really had my sides splitting.
Oblivious to reality doesn’t come near it.
See for yourself:
I believe our referees, when you consider VAR has only been in for a year, are doing an amazing job. There have been mistakes. Of course there have. But they have done an amazing job of finding a new way of refereeing. They have done a very, very good job and, hopefully, it will get better. Look around Europe and speak to other associations as often as I do and, trust me, we are doing okay.
An amazing job?
A new way of refereeing?
Well, that part I’d be inclined to believe.
New ways to screw Celtic, and plenty of new ways to favour their favourite team.
And if it’s going to get better, I can’t wait to see what better looks like.
As for the mistakes, they’re all of honest of course.
There is no unconcious bias in Scottish football.
When an Ibrox supporting referee sets foot on the field of play, all of his allegiances suddenly fade away.
He becomes a neutral of the highest order.
An amateur, who suddenly has the ability to perform like a professional.
Mulraney then goes on to tell us how the “mystery” independent panel of ex-pros viewed the Scottish game:
We brought in an independent panel of ex-pros to study decisions after the first quarter of the season and the evidence seems to show that we are getting there and we are doing the right kind of things. But, as always, we have to embrace transparency and ensure that we learn and improve
I would imagine the decisions this panel studied were “specially” selected.
The final sentence in that statement, however, blew me away:
But, as always, we have to embrace transparency and ensure that we learn and improve.
Okay Mr. Mulraney, you ever heard the old saying?
Actions speak louder than words?
It’s all very well saying that you have to embrace transparency, when there is nothing transparent about Scottish refereeing whatsoever.
Other than the fact 90% of referees support the Ibrox team.
Which is blatantly transparent.
Of course Mr. Mulraney and the independent panel of ex-pros had not a word to say about the amazing penalty stats the Ibrox club are racking up.
Stats which I highlighted in detail in my last article.
Nope, apparently this is all part of the “amazing” job Scottish referees are doing.
It is bloody amazing.
Amazing how the Ibrox side gets awarded multiple penalties game after game and concedes none.
Of course, Mulraney claims he was a cynic when it comes to VAR, but he felt it had to come to Scotland to keep up with our rivals across Europe.
Mr. Mulraney, if you want to keep up with your rivals across Europe, then make Scottish referees professional, and then make them declare their allegiances.
Then maybe Scottish refereeing can be taken seriously.
Because all the puff pieces, all the sugar coating, and all the independent panels of ex-pros in the world, will not change the fact that the standard of Scottish refereeing is brutal.
To say otherwise is farcical.
And today’s article in the Record is exactly that, farcical.
Mulraney’s final statement is hilarious:
So, I am totally supportive of VAR at this time for Scotland. If the whole of Europe had a vote to get rid of it, would I vote in favour of that? Possibly. But as long as the rest of Europe has it, then so will Scotland. As long as the world is sticking with VAR, we will have VAR. And it will hopefully improve as people get more used to it. There are always going to be mistakes but, as things stand, there are less of them.
There are always going to be mistakes, but as things stand, there are less of them??
I refer to a certain recent incident at Almondvale, where a certain Ross McCausland blatantly dived in the penalty box.
Did VAR make a mistake on that one then?
How many angles did VAR Steven Kirkland need to look at to decide that was a penalty?
And if Mike Mulraney believes Scottish referees are doing such an amazing job, then why doesn’t he question decisions like that?
There’s a reason this tripe was published today in the Record.
That’s because tomorrow, Celtic shareholders will be called paranoid for raising this subject at the AGM.
Because Scottish referees are doing an amazing job.
Mike Mulraney said so.
And a panel of independent ex-pros.