Sky Sports pundit takes aim at Steven McLean amid VAR controversy

Andy Walker has taken aim at Scottish refereeing official Steven McLean after the weekends performance during Celtic v Hibernian at Celtic Park. McLean was the man in the middle during a chaotic encounter between the two sides and Walker was less than impressed with not only McLean’s display, but the officiating more generally and the use of VAR technology.

Celtic v Hibernian – cinch Premiership – Celtic Park Referee Steven McLean in action during the cinch Premiership match at Celtic Park,  Saturday March 18, 2023. Photo Steve Welsh

It’s no surprise as Walker has spoken of his displeasure since the technology was introduced into the Scottish Premiership and cannot understand the reasoning behind some of the decisions on the field of play – particularly when officials rely on the VAR technology to make those calls that our referees and their assistants should have the courage to decide upon themselves.

The former Celtic striker, 57, was at the game on Saturday afternoon at Parkhead and claimed that referee McLean got four big calls wrong on the day. He cited the fact that Elie Youan of Hibernian should never have been sent off for two bookable offences, whilst he believes that two out of the three penalty calls were also very soft. “I hope we don’t see every tug of the shirt given as a penalty, he said. “I thought the Hibs one was soft and Steven McLean didn’t have a good performance at all.

“All the penalties were wrong decisions, but it gave Hibs the opportunity to go in front. Celtic’s first penalty was just incredibly soft, there was no foul from Hanlon on Carter-Vickers. Neither of them are penalties and we are setting a very low bar if that is the type of thing they are looking at. The refs were crying out for VAR, but I don’t see it helping them. They aren’t using it well.”

Walker has also insisted that he looks at the game in the Premier League and believes whole-heartedly that the rules are interpreted differently up here in the Scottish Premiership. It has led consistently for calls for our officials to be full-time and of a higher standard. He said: “I see officiating in England and I think the laws in the game are applied differently. Celtic’s second penalty, it was a poor call from the referee in the first place.

Jota celebrates scoring our first goal of the game during the cinch Premiership match against Hibs at Celtic Park on Saturday March 18, 2023. Photo Steve Welsh

“Abada stubbed his toe into the ground and it wasn’t a penalty, so that was good VAR overturned that. But the yellow cards to Youan, were outrageous and he didn’t deserve a yellow card for his first challenge and certainly not for the second when he was sent off. I thought Youan was fouled and Carter-Vickers head is so low, Youan is going for the ball and it is incredibly harsh. VAR can’t look at second yellows and from then on the game was ruined.”

Watch Walker tear apart McLean’s performance below…

Paul Gillespie


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About Author

I'm a Garngad Bhoy through and through. My first ever Celtic game was a friendly against Italian side Parma at Celtic Park, in 2002. Currently a student of English Literature and Education at the University of Strathclyde for my sins. Favourite game would be a toss up between beating Manchester United with that Naka freekick, or the game against the Oldco when Hesselink scored in the dying seconds. I'm still convinced Cal Mac is wasted playing that far back.

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