Celtic tooled up with UK’s top sports barrister, where it’s heading for Scottish FA

Celtic will be represented by the UK’s top sports law barrister Nick De Marco at Brendan Rodgers’ hearing at the Scottish FA tomorrow afternoon. And the Scottish FA have faced Di Marco previously when he represented Scott Brown over their charges over not representing the best interests of the game after various players from theRangers lost the plot – and the league – and Broony merely enjoyed the entertainment.

It’s far to say that that was one of the easiest victories of the sports barrister’s career to-date and he’s bound to enjoy dealing with the Scottish FA as most of the time he’s got to contend with competent sports professionals and administrators.

It’s Brendan in the dock this time, for calling out Beaton and Robertson after their double act to rescue the season after Motherwell had won at Ibrox. Yang’s nonsense red, upgraded from a yellow on Beaton’s insistence and then the icing on the cake as Beaton used his laptop to find a handball that no-one in football ever would say is a penalty, never mind a clear and obvious error missed by the referee.

John Beaton – Photo Malcolm Mackenzie PSI

Robertson didn’t have the balls to say no to Beaton and Brendan’s description of all that being merely incompetence does both officials a massive favour. If it’s not incompetence then what exactly was going on? Most Celtic supporters could give an answer to that one and they’d probably be hitting the nail on the head.

Will tomorrow go down this rabbit hole and will the Scottish FA be getting hot under the collar as it all unfolds?

Now the rules and regulations that are in place on what managers and players can say about referees is one thing but what about VAR officials? A referee or his assistant could previously make a call that later TV showed to be wrong. Let’s say on an offside decision. Flagged off, no goal. TV shows player was on – it’s an honest mistake and the rules are there to protect the officials in those circumstances.

Heart of Midlothian v Celtic –  Greg Taylor and Celtics Cameron Carter-Vickers speak with match referee Don Robertson after he awards a penalty to Hearts during the cinch Premiership match at Tynecastle Park, on Sunday 3rd March, 2024. Photo Andrew Milligan

But here both decisions were correct in real time – yellow to Yang, no penalty to Hearts, but VAR found reasons to change the referees mind. In effect VAR (John Beaton) was refereeing the game from his monitor – NOT what he’s supposed to be doing and Robertson was allowing this to happen.

Starting to reek of something is it not?

Here’s what Brendan said after the controversial incidents at Typecastle earlier this month:

Heart of Midlothian v Celtic – Photo Andrew Milligan

“I try to respect decisions and give the benefit of the doubt but I think when I see that level of incompetence, which is the only word I can use, then that makes me worry for the game. In such a tight title race that can make the difference. I also think that VAR is not the problem here. “That’s clear. It’s competence.

“The first one is the sending off when there is no force. Show a still image of that and of course and you will see a foot up with the head near it, but it’s not the reality of the move. Don got it actually right on the field. It was a high boot, so it’s a yellow card – no malice or force.

“For John Beaton to actually look at that in VAR, supposedly under no pressure, and say that was sending off? I find that incredible. The second one is worse. If you have a penalty go against you for that then there will be penalties every single weekend and midweek,” Brendan Rodgers

One way of the other we will know the outcome tomorrow. If Brendan Rodgers is given a two match ban then Celtic – and the Celtic support – must consider all options. There is widespread unhappiness in Scottish football about the competency of the VAR staff and already Crawford Allan, the Head of Referees has fallen on his sword.

Motherwell and St Johnstone have both spoken up about VAR in recent days. Celtic could consider publicly stating that the club no longer wish to finance VAR and seek support around the league. Other clubs will feel the same.

Being the first country to walk away from VAR because essentially the Scottish FA cannot manage it probably will be hugely embarrassing for the Scottish FA. But the game in Scotland would be all the better to having put VAR in the bin. That’s where this is heading for the Scottish FA.

John Collins Glasgow Celtic FC 27 September 1994

ON CELTIC SHORTS…To Celtic supporters of my generation John Collins became our star midfielder

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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk


  1. Talking of incompetence, why so many spelling mistakes and wrong words used? You mean fair but use far, and use probably when you meant properly. The grammar is atrocious too! If you wish to be taken seriously, ask someone you know to check your articles for spelling mistakes and grammar before you publish.

    • Rabbie Burns on

      Nope, the use of “probably” was correct. Only use I seen on quick re-read was “probably hit the nail on the head.” As in, most likely/ almost certainly.
      You COULD use ‘properly’ but, tbh it doesn’t scan well & I would say his version much better than yours. To “properly” hit something? Maybe you speak like this in slang/regional dialect but, people wouldn’t write this in an article.
      Glass houses & stones.

      • Regarding the wrong use of probably, I was referring to this: Being the first country to walk away from VAR because essentially the Scottish FA cannot manage it PROBABLY will be hugely embarrassing for the Scottish FA.

  2. This constant conspiracy theorising is boring. You are aware, are you not, that the Rangers support think along similar lines, and the rest of Scottish football fans think the bias is in favour of the big two?

    It’s incompetence exacerbated by pressure.

    If you’re good enough, none of it matters which is why we have been so successful across the past decade or so.

    • Rabbie Burns on

      But, theRangers fans are generally dumb as feck and rant about absolute nonsense with zero proof.
      We ALL know who has theRangers affiliations with the SFA & amongst the referees, it’s common knowledge & public record.
      We shouldn’t have to be playing against the refs as well as the other teams. All we want is a fair & level playing field, which is the bare minimum ALL sports teams in every corner of the world should get. Not too much to ask for, is it?
      Why should we have to score 3 & 4 goals a game, every game, to guarantee that some ridiculous decision is not given against us to rob us of a win?
      That’s not sport.
      To dismiss it when it’s glaring is just dumb.
      To deny it when it’s obvious is blind.
      To lie down to it and accept it is not our way. We are not, and never have been, a servile people, and we’ll not start now!

  3. Regarding the wrong use of probably, I was referring to this: Being the first country to walk away from VAR because essentially the Scottish FA cannot manage it PROBABLY will be hugely embarrassing for the Scottish FA.

  4. RPM Celticfan on

    “But the game in Scotland would be all the better to having put VAR in the bin” VAR highlights the bias against us , so the Huns would love it to be binned, any Celt who cant see that is blind and stupid , Hail hail