Imagine if that was a Celtic handball yesterday

Brendan Rodgers now has the perfect evidence to present at his SFA hearing…

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers arrives prior to the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Celtic FC and St. Johnstone FC at Celtic Park Stadium on March 16, 2024 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Yesterday’s game at Celtic Park against St Johnstone was filled with yet more VAR controversy. Despite us winning the game in a comfortable fashion we still had a few legitimate complaints when it came to the much maligned technology.

None more so than the incident in the first half with the game still goalless when a St Johnstone player seemed to block a shot on the goal line with his elbow. Yes the elbow is part of the arm as far as I know, and despite it going to a VAR review it was deemed legitimate! “No handball” was their verdict.

It doesn’t matter that he didn’t know anything about it as it was going in the net, yes the player stopped a net bound shot with a part of his arm. Surely within the rules of the game that is a penalty kick?

Remember last season when we conceded two spot kicks at home to Dundee United and Ross County? Case one was for the ball hitting Alexandro Bernabei on the back of the arm when he didn’t know anything about it.

In the second instance it was Matt O’Riley being penalised for the ball bouncing off his arm just inside the box. Both incidents were sent to VAR and adjudged to be penalties. You can see our frustration.

Our biggest gripe though is the Tomoki Iwata incident at Tynecastle just a fortnight ago. The ball accidentally hits his arm after he was nudged by his own teammate just inside the penalty area. Nowhere near the goal I may add, and yet the VAR team adjudged it to be worthy of a spot kick. He was facing the other way. His eyes were closed. He was barged in the bag as three players jumped for the ball.  He had zero knowledge that the penalty was give for his hand-ball offence and only found out in the dressing room at half time.

This is where it gets interesting. Brendan Rodgers is up in front of the SFA on a charge of making remarks about the officials, namely John Beaton. Brendan’s only ‘crime’ was calling Beaton ‘incompetent’ well that’s mild to what most of us have called him, but Brendan has now got evidence of his own now to put before the beaks.

Exhibit A your honour. “Incompetence has many meanings and one of them is that you aren’t doing your job efficiently or correctly. Before me I have footage of an incident at our last game, an incident similar to the one I have been accused of calling for clarity on.

“The footage shows said incident much more punishable according to the laws of the game, yet it was judged by the officials after having a quick look to be a ‘legal’ act.

“The incident that caused me to be up before you was in a similar if not lesser instance, yet I have been charged for making that point. Yes I called the official in question incompetent, but judging by this footage and the rules of the game doesn’t that make said official incompetent as he clearly went against the rules of the game?

“Either that or the officials on Saturday are guilty of incompetence and went against the rules of the game. So which is it to be your honour? Case closed.”

Brendan Rodgers was delighted after the 3-1 win over St Johnstone

Another point, had that been a Celtic player, say the unfortunate Tomoki Iwata, standing on the Celtic goal-line with the ball hitting him in exactly the same spot…it goes to VAR for a review, their decision and the outcome would have been one of two alternatives:

  1. No penalty, no handball as was the outcome yesterday
  2. Penalty to St Johnstone and a red card for the Celtic player, with a one match ban. Celtic’s subsequent failed appeal would see that double to a two match ban.

Which option do you think VAR would have reached yesterday had it been a ball to arm situation on the Celtic goal-line preventing a St Johnstone goal?

Just an Ordinary Bhoy


About Author

An ordinary everyday Celtic supporters hailing and still residing in Govan in the shadows of the enemy. I’m a season ticket holder. I Witnessed my first Celtic game in 1988 and have attended when I can ever since. Growing up in the 90s I witnessed Celtic at their lowest, and now appreciate the historic success we enjoy today. I enjoy writing about this wonderful football club and hopefully will continue to do so. I’ve always been a keen writer and initially started this a hobby. My ambition is to one day become as good an author as my fellow Celtic Star colleagues.


  1. Unfortunately BR has said he is going to the lynching at Hamdump with his only gripes being about the ones at Swinecastle, ergo, anything else during any other game will not be used by our legal team……a big mistake IMO.

  2. John Copeland on

    There is one thing for sure and that is Crawford Allen would be on every SMSM platform this week condemning the referee and VAR just short of being hung ,drawn and quartered ,with no mercy !

  3. The one thing that was glaringly obvious yesterday was while we had three goals disallowed, one definitely offside, one borderline and one absolutely onside, a 100% stonewall penalty denied for a handball on the goal-line, even after supposed VAR checks, a yellow card to a St. Johnstone forward for a blatant elbow to the head of Stephen Welsh, (a straight red card offence), not one of these VAR checks resulted in the referee making a trip to the pitch-side monitor so the he, the ACTUAL match official, could make a decision!
    So in fact, the referee DID NOT make a single important decision yesterday!
    Instead, each of these decisions were ACTUALLY MADE OFF-SITE!
    So the big decisions in the game were actually NOT decided by the person SUPPOSED to be officiating, but by a VAR official, little known, (probably controlled) Chris Graham!