Not Fit for Purpose, SFA – ‘We’re a laughing stock,’ BFDJ, ‘It’s a pantomime now’

THE season started with Morelos being sent off at Pittodrie for a kick on one-time Celtic target Scott McKenna. Everyone saw the kick but somehow the Rangers appeal was successful.

It was Steven Gerrard’s first match in charge of the Rangers but afterwards he complained about (incredibly verging on comically) the bias that referees had had against the Ibrox club claiming that it had been going on for years.

He also showed his own inexperience on his first day ‘at work’ as a football manager by claiming that his side were a ‘class above’ Derek McInnes’ side. The Aberdeen manager used those words to inflict a series of damaging defeats on Gerrard. McInnes was the only manager to win at Ibrox in the league and his Aberdeen side also knocked the Rangers out of both cup competitions – Celtic won the League Cup in December and play Hearts in the Scottish Cup Final next Saturday.

The Rangers appealed and quite incredibly were successful, leaving referees and indeed players and managers throughout the league wondering what was and what was not now regarded as a red card offence.

Last week the Rangers released a statement in which they claimed to have been getting judged to a different standard to the rest of the teams in the league. No-one argued with that and no wonder – yesterday we got yet another example of the shambles that is the Scottish FA.

Every since they broke the rules to assist the previous Ibrox club as it failed, see the Resolution 12 website for the proof, and then pulled their 5 Way Agreement together to keep a Rangers, any Rangers playing in Scotland, they seem to have been hopeless compromised and incapable of doing what it says on the tin for a governing body. Only as far as the one club is concerned though, the one founded by Charles Green in 2012.

The month after Morelos kicked McKenna at Pittodrie, Kris Ajer was kicked by Allan McGregor as he lay on the ground in the Rangers penalty area. It was fly, cowardly and nasty and luckily enough it was caught on camera.

Incredibly the relevant ‘people’ at the Scottish FA looked at this and cleared McGregor. He had become an even more nasty, almost deranged individual on the football park – no idea what his behaviour off the park is like but he certainly does seem to possess a short fuse.

There were plenty of other incidents potted throughout the season of both these players indulging in the same sort of behaviour and that’s why they needed up with MORE red cards that any other side in Europe.

And as the officials from Day 1 have been rattled by the failure of the Scottish FA to support them, they too have had to consider flash points very carefully and have you could argue inevitably gone on the side of personal caution by awarding them decisions such as the huge (embarrassing) number of penalty kicks awarded this season.

Again more that the four English teams in the two European finals, or English Champions Manchester City, or the champions in Spain, Germany, France and indeed Scotland. More than twice as many. They even got four in one game, for the second time incidentally, the last time that happened they were going for 10IAR.

When one referee made a mistake by issuing a yellow card to the wrong player, who was already on a caution, they went full scale nuclear in their subsequent outrage, even though this was a match that they had won. That happened in December, the referee was Willie Collum, who teaches Religious Education as his day job.

Not the kind of school that is appropriate for a referee handling their games to work at – incredibly they played this card, even more incredibly the Scottish FA refused to act on that aspect of their indignation and even still more incredibly that same referee (who will have the whistle at the Cup Final next Saturday) has not handled one of their games again this season.

Collum is in charge of their game at Kilmarnock on Sunday. Every other club in Scotland, and many around Europe, have their own Willie Collum stories to tell – Celtic fans can point to the penalty he gave to the old Rangers (pre-liquidation) with the eyes he’s got in the back of his head. Collum later claimed to have ‘heard’ the contact.

Yet for all the favouritism that has been shown they remained the Spoilt Brats of the Scottish Game, and it ended up costing them dearly.

By 29 December, Morelos was on a mission – not to score a goal against Celtic (that would be a bit far fetched even for this incredible story) but to kick, assault and injury as many Celtic players as he possibly could.

John Beaton was the referee, he would later that evening go for a drink in a Rangers bar in Bellshill to celebrate with his fellow Rangers supporters. Scott Brown, Tom Rogic and Anthony Ralston were all assaulted by Morelos – the young full-back was stamped on while lying on the ground, and Celtic quite rightly complained.

The same spin doctors who briefed Gerrard ahead of the opening game at Pittodrie jumped back into action and turned the story to bad Celtic fans threatening the referee online. No-one else could find any threads posted on social media but by his next game, down at Ayr in the Championship, he had a police escort and the hacks all there, conveniently ‘tipped off’ to cover the story.

Then the Scottish FA cleared Morelos.

Brendan Rodgers was a real disappointment at this time. His fellow Irishman Neil Lennon had managed Celtic to three in a row and had received bombs, bullets, death threats, had been knocked unconscious on the street, had seen ‘people’ go to jail for assaulting him, was even attacked from the stands at Tynecastle while Derek Johnstone, the Ibrox cheerleader on local radio, blamed him for the incident and reckoned he should be punished by the Scottish FA for his reaction to the assault.

Rodgers, on £2.5million a year, wanted none of that. After Beaton’s biased performance at Ibrox he called for VAR, for full-time referees and the like. He sat on the fence. Okay, looking back we all know why.

He was away by the end of February and it was Neil Lennon who Celtic turned to to get the team over the line in the league – the main target – and also try to win the Scottish Cup for a third consecutive season – something Celtic has never managed previously.

Away to Hearts in the league and then Hibs in the cup could have gone horribly wrong but Lenny won these games – the two most important matches of our season.

By the end of March the Rangers came to Celtic part adrift in the league, knowing that they had to win to keep their fading challenge alive. Morelos saw red, Kent with Madden looking straight at him, punched Broony in the jaw after James Forrest scored the winner, Halliday was later sent off in the tunnel.

Incredibly the Rangers appealed the subsequent ban that Kent received and the Scottish FA also showed that any credibility that they once had was long since gone when they concocted a charge against Scott Brown of not acting in the best interests of Association football. A top QC from London was engaged and those charges were thrown out quickly.

Then there was the match last Sunday. McGregor was sitting in the stands after the coward tried to kick a Hibs player from behind the previous week. This time it was Flanagan, the wife beating Scouser, who was the villain, smashing Scott Brown in the face with an elbow. Kevin Clancy saw it but rather than issue a red card, and perhaps award a penalty – that was a marginal call – he gave Flanagan a yellow and ordered a re-take of the corner kick.

Three referees looked at this and said it was a red. ‘Mr Flanagan’ was cited and offered a two match ban and the spin doctors jumped into action, realising a statement that former Celtic Star Simon Donnelly noted could have been written by someone in Primary 7.

Unlike Rodgers, Neil Lennon – who like Rodgers suffered a defeat at Ibrox this season with his team not turning up at all – was prepared to fight Celtic’s corner. He also noted in his media conference the other day that the Rangers ‘were good at statements’ – here we have a manager that will stand up for Celtic, for the players and for the fans, even if it puts himself personally in their spotlight. Just saying…

Yesterday’s decision even had Derek Johnstone stating that it was somewhat incredible.

Speaking on Clyde’s Superscorebaord the Ibrox cheerleader had this to say about the latest climbdown from the Scottish FA.

“We’re a laughing stock. It’s an absolute joke what’s been happening with some of the decisions. I can’t wait to hear why they’ve come to this conclusion.

“We’ve had three (referees) who looked at it and said it was a red card and then three looked and said it wasn’t. It’s a pantomime now.”

Talking about the incident on Sunday, this is what Johnstone had to say:

“He’s lifted his arm and caught him. Maybe he’s not caught him in the face but he caught him in an aggressive manner. I thought straight away that it was a sending off. The referee is only five yards away and he’s given a yellow card.

“Three top-class refs looked at it and said, ‘That’s a red card and we’re offering you a two-game ban’. Another three looked at it and said, ‘You’ve got that wrong!’”

Meanwhile there’s nothing on the official Celtic site about this, although a club spokesperson did give a short, one sentence, response to the media saying:

“The whole matter is a huge embarrassment for Scottish football.”

Celtic have won 8IAR. Next season we go for Nine and if we get that the Ten is on. EVERYTHING possible is going to be done to stop that happening. That’s why Neil Lennon is the man for the job for the next two seasons at least.

Get us over the line. Be ready to stand up for Celtic every step of the way and fight Celtic’s corner. That’s what we need. None of the big named coaches mentioned – despite their experience and their success – will have experienced anything like what will happen as they desperately try to stop the Ten. Think about that folks.

Neil Lennon pointed out his own record the other day in winning titles at Celtic as a player or as a manager. He’s had one or two disappointments on the final day but generally wins the league for Celtic. Tomorrow he’s the manager for the fourth time in our 8IAR.

We need a manager who knows the score and who is prepared to fight our corner. That’s why Neil Lennon should get the job.

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

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