What’s it to be Peter, do you care or have you reached irrelevance?

A legal representative puts forward the club’s defence whilst an un-named club associate sits passive and silent in the background. The defendant appears via video link and a three member panel of the judiciary pass judgment. One deems it violent while two state it an act of brutality. With the majority verdict the accused rests like the prosecution for a few weeks at least. He now has a footballing record carrying a conviction for brutality.

For Ryan Christie it verges on a kangaroo court. Something every football dressing room from Highland League to the Scottish Premiership’s players take part in. Usually about awful clobber, poor performance in training or nutmegging your captain during boxes. Except the punishment is three games of not being able to ply your trade. No it’s not a forfeit, instead it is a ban.

Sadly this isn’t a dressing room judge and jury. This is an official disciplinary matter before a ruling body. At least in the kangaroo court you are assessed by your peers, not by a nameless 3 person panel without scrutiny or transparency. No judge, just a compliance office prosecutor and a panel.

The nameless three pass judgment and we all move on. No right of Appeal. Only in Scotland.

The decision is reached on the charge.

Brutality: savage physical violence; great cruelty. Similar: savagery, cruelty, bloodthirstiness, viciousness, ferocity. Just a quick look at a dictionary tells you the severity of the charge.

If you didn’t know the incident you’d assume it was a beyond violent assault, Possibly threats to kill, to shoot, perhaps even a threat to cut your opponents throat. Vile acts of that sort that are simply beyond the pale in a civilised society.

It’s none of those things. Those examples only took place in the very same match on Sunday 29 December 2019. Both of those have yet to reach to reach the ‘panel’.

This charge is for an individual falling, off balance who intends to commit a foul to slow his opponent as he is no longer in control of his footing. As he loses his position he falls and moves to stop his rival. It isn’t brutal it’s not even violent. Had it been recognised at the time the match officials issue a yellow card at the most, even that would have been deemed as harsh.

Now in trial by media the same player misses three games for the charge. A year ago a remarkably similar incident between the two players passed without prosecution, at the time or at a ‘fast track’ panel later on. The only difference is the interchanging of positions between the ‘offender’ and the ‘defendant’.

The good thing about miscarriages of justice or imbalance in a legal system is that despite the punishment, if you deem it unjust the opportunity for appeal via a fresh pair of eyes, usually independent of the original decision makers allows the checks and balances any democratic institution is built on.

A precedent being set as was the case a year before by the governing bodies initial inaction for the same charge 12 months before would come into play.

Not in Scotland, not in Scottish football.

“Determinations of a Fast Track Tribunal are final and binding and there is no right of Appeal”.

At least in a genuine balanced and honest court when judgment is passed without an appeal then the opportunity of a Judicial Review arises. Not in this instance.

Imagine this was your player, your employee and not even a run of the mill team member, this is your best performing asset this year. The man your opponents know can hurt you the most. If that man is removed from your business interests for three weeks and you deem it unjust, based on past precedents what would you do?

With no route to appeal you’d question the validity and fairness of the system would you not?

If the course to justice was blocked off by a lack of appeal would you not keep your powder dry and wait for an opportunity to force change, question the independent nature of the governing body find a weakness a moment where you could legitimately challenge?

You see the issue may well be the governing body, the Compliance Officer and the nameless panel of perceived justice but this is small fry. You have a real opportunity for a much bigger catch.

Well if you are Peter Lawwell you could challenge the governing body, you could arm yourself. You could look for opportunity to strike back.

Well it’s all been there Peter. Resolution 12 was there for you, it still is if you want it. If your company has been treated unfairly and you think it’s likely to impact your ability to perform then do something tangible.

If for a moment you believe you’ve been wronged and for arguments case you care, then the smoking gun is still there.

If those passing judgment are not fit for purpose at least show you have the nous to defend your position and challenge them, take that gun to the knife fight.

If you aren’t going to do any of those things, then step aside. It’s not just archaic institutions that stop being fit for purpose. We all become tired, irrelevant and in need of modernising. There’s no shame if you can admit it and make way for those who can.

So what’s it to be Peter, do you care or have you reached irrelevance and require replacing?

Niall J


Transfer Window – Celtic have been clearing the decks for next week’s arrivals, Niall J reckons…see HERE.

I think about these past few weeks, oh will they say we’ve failed – Callum McGregor on Glasgow Derby defeat…see HERE.

Ryan Christie, The flawed Scottish FA and the highest paid football director in the UK…see HERE.

About Author

As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parhead's gates.

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