A VARning Shot


One of the problems with being a football fan is that it is by nature somewhat tribalist. We are all fans of football,and can discuss the game knowledgeably and dispassionately in any given circumstances-except when it comes to something in which our fan-fuelled partisan nature is given free rein. 

There’s no point in denying it. We can try as hard as we like to state our thoughts from an entirely neutral viewpoint on any footballing subject,but that goes out the window the second that our club is involved in any way. And it’s not just us,it’s endemic throughout the world of football. 

Sadly,of course,that mindset is also endemic amongst the Scottish refereeing fraternity,a topic which we have had reason to mention on the odd occasion on these pages! It’s why I think that refereeing in Scotland should be outsourced to another country,one where neutrality and fairness is at the heart of their endeavours instead of being a total impossibility. 

VAR was designed to reduce the number of errors in the game from officials. Like many a good idea,it was introduced before it had been refined. Quite possibly introduced with conflicting messages on its parameters of use and without adequate training. Inexcusable,given that it was heavily trialled before being rolled out. Even now,hardly a weekend passes without some cock-up or other-and that’s only in England where the referees are usually considered to be top notch. With an error-strewn system like this,consider the damage that can be done when the system is wilfully abused. It doesn’t bear thinking about. 

This we know from our mere eighteen months of experience in Scotland. In a country where the referees stride tall and untouchable,their status has merely been confirmed by their latest toy. It is a jobs for the boys bonanza,giving work for the brethren all the way through the week. Where not so long ago a team of officials included the referee and two linesmen,it is now made up of a referee,two assistant referees,a fourth official and two VAR officials. Twice as many,about five times as expensive and a hunner times worse than the original. It’s hardly progress,that’s for sure. 

What is even worse is that in Scotland,not only are referees beyond sanction,they also get to be judge and jury in their own performance reviews! In England,every match is reviewed by a panel of four experienced and independent adjudicators. Possible errors from the officials are highlighted and are then subject to further review before a decision is made on what steps should be taken when mistakes have been made. These tend to take the form of a public apology,formal clarification of the relevant offence and even censure and downgrading of the officials involved. 

This all takes a matter of days. And there’s no sugarcoating,no dissembling,no downright lies or even suggestions of honest mistakes,snigger snigger. It’s all done efficiently,professionally and dispassionately. Something we can only dream of in Scotland. Yesterday,our own version of these adjudicators made their latest report on the VAR snafu. Despite it being only the second such review this season,it found only 26 occasions worthy of mention,and only found the officials to be in error ten times.

Bugger me backwards,Scotland has the best match officials in the world! Look at those stats,it’s obviously true!!! No other country can boast such near-impeccable standards,and it will be a mystery till my dying breath why our officials are denied their place at Euro 24,just as they have been denied their place so often at similar tournaments. They obviously don’t know what they’re missing,and it’s their loss. 

Or alternatively,just who the hell are they kidding,only 26 incidents worthy of review? Not one of which involved a player getting off with a clear red card tackle,and hardly any clear penalty decisions ignored. The focus seemed to be on whether a decision was correct,rather than on those not punished at all.  Two of which included penalties against their favoured club,both deemed wrong,and both unlikely to be repeated anytime soon. This is just insider trading,marking your own homework,call it what you will. I’ll be more upfront about it. It is a system which is designed to enable cheating. No system which is self-sanctioning can ever be wholly independent even with the best will in the world. It is open to abuse,both from simple incompetence and also from “bad actors” who use procedure to push their own agenda. It is frankly a waste of time and money,and an insult to the intelligence. 

We’ve had this all our lives. The club has had it throughout its existence. It’s hardly something new. But it started in the 19th Century-at least in footballing terms-when even an outdoor toilet was considered a luxury and a carrier pigeon a viable means of communication. This is 2024,an era when communication is instantaneous and the technology beyond the imagination of previous generations. But we are still reliant on the most fallible machine of all,the human being. All machines can be designed to follow a given instruction,but no machine can ever be designed to misinterpret that instruction like a human being can. And when they do so wilfully and deliberately,no system can survive the damage done to it. 

VAR is unworkable in Scotland. The current system for training and appointing referees in Scotland is clearly not fit for purpose,as the repeated snubs for those officials proves every time. Tuesday night saw a fantastic match between Bayern and Real,a CL semi final and a high pressure game for players,managers and officials alike. A breathless 2-2 draw with some fine individual performances. Yet none better than the referee,who was faultless. I witnessed a similar performance in the QFs in March,and have actually seen a number of good games from various places where the referee has been beyond reproach. Which made me think that VAR actually does work,because players know that they can’t get away with the snide or blindside,a pinch or a pull. Even good old-fashioned sledging is a thing of the past,thanks to close-ups and lipreaders! 

Overall since its introduction,I am in favour of VAR. I don’t always agree with its conclusions,even outside of Scotland. I believe it is here to stay,and will continue to be tweaked to perfection. They can make a start by drawing the offside lines with a paintbrush rather than a laser,which respects the original ethos of clear and obvious error. But it will never work in Scotland as it is currently operated. Not when referees use VAR to get them out of jail,not when VAR is allowed feverishly to search for a camera angle suitable for the desired outcome,and not when refereeing errors are left unpunished and largely unquestioned. 

If VAR is the future of football,Scotland needs to get with the programme. And it can’t do that with the current refereeing structure. Don’t expect improvement any time soon. 

Above article by BMCUWP

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May 2, 2024 12:19 am


You can read our article on a resolution for improving refereeing standards here.


Join the growing numbers of our readers who have had enough of referees In hun scarves.

May 2, 2024 12:20 am

The Sentinel Celts Charity Drive has nominated Blood Cancer UK as the recipient for funds for the six months to 31/07/2024,and we are getting close to achieving our LATEST TARGET.

We have set up a GoFundMe page for those who have some spare cash to donate,even from a lucky windfall or finding a tenner in the street.

Click on the link for more details,including how to donate.


Please give generously to a very deserving cause. Although our first targets have now been achieved-and many thanks for your generosity!-we can always hope to do more.

May 2, 2024 12:49 am

Bobby, you are on a roll! First class article again.

In other news, I think the results for the Bundesliga clubs in the CL over the last 2 nights mean Angie and Spurs will be out of luck for a 5th EPL club slot, assuming Spurs hold onto 5th place until the end of the season.
Iniquitous IV😊

May 2, 2024 12:53 am


Thanks,old bean! Instead of the usual tenner,please accept this homage to our former manager by a favourite band of ours.

Sol Kitts
May 2, 2024 7:23 am

The 26 VAR errors are only those that were referred to VAR for a 2nd opinion, which the review panel found to be incorrect. More pertinent would be those clear incidents which VAR didn’t feel the need to look at again, despite it being clear (and obvious) that there may have been something to see.
I said at the beginning of Scottish VAR that it would be used to justify cheating by the mibs, and nothing I have seen so far has altered my opinion.

Big Audio Dynamite
May 2, 2024 8:02 am

Still not convinced the men in black won’t try and find a way of cheating us out of this title.
Given the effort they have put into keeping Sevco on our coat-tails, I’ll be surprised if there isn’t at least one more twist to come.
What a boost it would be if we managed to smash a few goals past the maroon morons.
Not that it’s likely, I’d also love to be meeting the Huns after extending our lead a little further.
I don’t suppose a draw would be the worst result, as long as we take care of Hearts.
We are gonna have to be very smart in our decision making.
The cheats won’t need much encouragement to feck us over.
I’d also imagine Sky will want this to go as near to the end of the season as possible.
Here’s hoping the team put every effort into these next two games and it’s enough to see us over the line.
There hasn’t been too many times when I’ve been so desperate for us to win something.
If we do emerge victorious, I might run round Bridgeton cross naked, except for maybe a pair of Celtic boxer shorts 😊

May 2, 2024 8:40 am


As I said in the article,” who the hell are they kidding,only 26 incidents worthy of review? Not one of which involved a player getting off with a clear red card tackle,and hardly any clear penalty decisions ignored. The focus seemed to be on whether a decision was correct,rather than on those not punished at all.”

Weve all bemoaned how long it takes for VAR reviews to complete,yet they can make an instant decision NOT to review? Hmmm,possibly-but experience tells us that non-reviews are every bit as contentious. And even more open to abuse.

Just as a matter of interest,the McCausland dive against Livingston was cleared following VAR review,but ive not seen it officially criticised. I wonder why.

May 2, 2024 8:42 am


That would be a sight for sore eyes. A temptation to crowdfund your defence,if ever there was one.

Jobo Baldie
May 2, 2024 8:48 am

Good morning, friends. Just 2 more sleeps till our opportunity to go 6 points clear. Wonder what part VAR may play in our latest game with Hearts. Games between these 2 clubs have possibly had the most talked about issues of all, starting with the first ever VAR game. Hopefully the match finishes before 5pm!

May 2, 2024 8:56 am

Watched BVB v PSG last night a thing I don’t normally do is pay any attention to the fixed UCL. Quote of the night came from a wee fat bigot .” That will never catch on Fletch” was mentioned when after scoring it took 10 secs maybe to do and confirm a VAR check. A clear line and not 10 different angles to try and disallow what was a perfect piece of striking.
I’m not saying it should always be so quick but some of the timescales we see are just outrageous. Blatantly obvious our var people are either cheating or are totally incompetent when looking at the incidents.
Good old “Fletch” did also praise the ref from MUN v RMA from the previous night saying it was a superb display by him.
Right there in his statement is the reason there will be no huns at Euro24 this year.

Just Sayin’
May 2, 2024 9:22 am


I’d say a red card for a key player immediately impacting the game and weakening the team for the Huns game.
Key player? This season?
That reduces the number of candidates significantly.

May 2, 2024 9:34 am

Excellent piece BMCUWP.

The blazers who run Scottish football do not aspire to excellence in any aspect of the game in this country, they are incapable of even achieving a basic level of competence. But an all expenses paid jaunt to Germany here we come.

Not a single referee from our league will be handed a whistle or a flag, for Euro24 . None of them anywhere near the level required. Will any of them even be bothered about that ? The Champions League quarters and semis were fabulous games, with VAR pretty much staying in its box. The refs involved were getting it right first time, just about every time. No requirement at all to re-referee, as per a typical SPFL match. VAR errors in Scotland ? They mark their own homework. Pathetic.

The suits who run the royal bank of Celtic are just as bad as the SFA blazers. No interest in improving any aspect of Scottish football. Keep the head down and remain silent. Issue the odd platitude when the natives start getting restless. The seats at the back of the bus are fair comfy.

More of the same coming up next season, at the SFA, SPFL, and our club.

San Luis
May 2, 2024 9:38 am

SFA , marking their own homework. It’s a charade to ensure cheating continues.

Football in Scotland needs a fan revolution. Sadly, fans are fickle, so it won’t happen unless Celtic rebel.

May 2, 2024 10:03 am

Morning all,


Now that definitely would be worth seeing 😁😁😁

Celtic winning the League obviously, but an interesting take on after match celebrations 👍👍👍

HH 🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀

May 2, 2024 10:08 am

Did the club ever receive an answer on the question it asked after John Beaton changed his onfield decision with regards to awarding a penalty?

May 2, 2024 10:27 am

Further to the 1249 comment from INIQUITOUS IV that England will not benefit from a fifth CL place next season,those places are now confirmed as heading to Serie A and Bundesliga. However,both of those countries are still in with a chance of achieving a SIXTH place in the tournament.

If either Bayer Leverkusen,Roma or Atalanta win the EL,it guarantees a place in the CL next season. The other allocated CL places will then come from the best of the rest finishing five in the appropriate league. What a bloody joke.

May 2, 2024 10:28 am


Which one?

May 2, 2024 10:30 am

Var stands for variation of biased official’s interpretation.
All officials given a green detecting fine tooth comb to find any infringement by anyone in green up to 24 hours prior.
Var detection equipment has rendered all blue light invisible so nothing to see here is absolutely true .
Conor Goldson was model used to create blue invisibility cloak.
Var handbook contains helpful communication phrases to be used like haud on a minute to we find something to use against thae fenian bassas and the classic penalty to rangers!!!’
The officials for this weekend will visit SFA bunker to go over the use in emergency of the Red White and Blue embroidered special edition subtitled how to steal a league title!

May 2, 2024 10:47 am


Nonsense. A sixth place for the BL especially this season is completely acceptable. Let’s hope for a Bayen v Dortmund final and Leverkusen winning the EL

May 2, 2024 10:48 am


6th place a possibility for German team to qualify for Champions League !!!!

Was thinking at this rate, if I bought a German Shepherd dog, could I qualify for German passport ???


May 2, 2024 10:54 am

Who is 6th in the BL anyway?

May 2, 2024 11:01 am

Both Germany and Italy could have six representatives, if Dortmund win the Champions League and finish outside the top four in the Bundesliga and either Atalanta or Roma win the Europa League.
The winners of both tournaments qualify automatically for the following season’s Champions League.
The additional places are added no matter how many clubs enter the tournament by the usual method.
Ironically, even if they do not win the tournament, Dortmund will be the beneficiaries as they are almost certain to finish fifth in the Bundesliga.

May 2, 2024 11:03 am


Brexit put an end to that

May 2, 2024 11:04 am


I don’t think any reply was ever received. Certainly it hasn’t been made public. No great surprise as nothing ever comes of us complaining anyway. Makes you wonder if any complaint was ever sent,or whether it had a covering note saying no action required,were just playing to the audience here.

May 2, 2024 11:08 am


Absolutely. The officials in Scotland have made a mockery of the entire concept of VAR. As highlighted in ATHINGOFBEAUTY’s t-shirt design.


May 2, 2024 11:08 am


Agreed. It’s probably decided at PA media sports if such a newspaper article is required. Probably Ronnie Esplin’s remit

Bada Bing
May 2, 2024 11:32 am

You have to wonder why the VAR Stats have been released at this stage of the season? Why not wait till the season is finished?

May 2, 2024 11:46 am


Why the hell are they bringing out this dodgy decisions by VAR list now with 4 games to go..mmm🤔..what could possibly happen now?..watch this space me thinks.i smell a rat..or 2

May 2, 2024 11:52 am

Additional Champions League places

They will go to nations that strive to improve and develop the game at all levels of the sport. That is not Scotland.

They will go to clubs that strive to be the very best they can be, given their resources available, and who take European football seriously. That is not Celtic.

The EPL is by far the richest league in Europe. UEFA’s cash is a nice bonus, but not the be all and end all. Perhaps the reason only Aston Villa remain in Europe at the semi final stage.

May 2, 2024 1:02 pm


This is as always with the huns is an interesting one.

Lord Braid is effectively ensuring that Elite are paying the huns a 400k caution up front to enable the huns to provide required sales data and reports for the damages case which is expected to last for 6 days this coming August.

Considering that they are claiming 9.5m£ or more in damages this amounts to Elite(or more accurately their administrators) having to put up circa 5% worth of their prospective claim. An amount the claimants stated was excessive but Lord Braid dismissed this and told them to pay it in two instalments.

My tim genes twitch that they hope that Elite’s Administrators will baulk at paying this cash. I have no idea if this is standard practice and if there is anything untoward going on. It would be highly unusual considering which body is presiding over this case and the defendant involved for it not to be.

Elite’s Administrators have to make this call. Considering they have already parted with 120k. I would imagine that they are all in and pretty confident of winning this case.

Now how does this affect Sevco’s accounts with regards FSR? In the last set off accounts they determine having “taken advice from experts” that there is no need to mention or allude to these regarding this case.

August is the middle of the transfer window. The huns will be playing thier 1st European match end of September

Surely UEFA FSR group has to be proactive here and not reactive

Is this not going to be taken into account (if they lose) until next season? Is that why the win at all costs mantra has been more evident this season.

It does beg the question how highly coordinated these court actions are in conjunction with the football calendar and always to Sevco’s eternal benefit.

How come ? We should demand to know? Who is this body?This beneficial scheduling can’t be continually coincidental.

Is UEFA also party/privy to this beneficial scheduling ?

May 2, 2024 1:22 pm

Awe Naw @ 1.02

Read that yesterday, VP posted the link.

While not a Legal Expert, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone pursuing someone thru the courts having to pay for the legal costs of the pursued. Weird.

Maybe MIT could verify.

Seems more like the usual Masonic carry on as per usual re SEVCO.


May 2, 2024 1:37 pm


I suspect it’s pretty standard. Don’t laugh here but if Sevco aren’t guilty why should they pay for a spurious claim? Guilt hasn’t been determined yet. Those costs Elite will get back if Sevco are found guilty.

Why do they need another expert at further cost?

I reckon there is a creative accountancy dilemma going on. The data they provide to the court for this case has to be consistent with previous statements they have provided to other bodies. Dodgier experts are more expensive and harder to come by.

Somehow I get a feeling if they lose that the damages set will be pretty much in line with what they can get for Butland. I do wonder if this is also part of the highly skilled coordination.

Mike in Toronto
May 2, 2024 2:29 pm

Awe Naw/CT

I dont do Scottish law, but many countries have rules for what is called security for costs.

Normally, a losing party has to pay some portion of the winning party’s legal costs.

If a plaintiff has no assets, it can sue without impugnity becuase it would have no assets to seize if it loses.

So, If there is reason to believe that a plaintiff would be unable to pay legal costs if it loses (for example, it is is a foreign company without assets in the jurisdiction, or if it has outstanding judgments against it that have not been paid, or in this case, if it has gone into administration), the courts have a discretion to order that it post some level of security before it will be allowed to continue with its claim. This is to ensure that the defendant has at least some recovery if the claim is unsuccessful.

A claim for sfc is not the norm, and is not automatically granted, but is based on various factors and balances the rights of both sides.

Lost in translation ...
May 2, 2024 2:37 pm


Not quite with you regarding CL refs …
Tuesday night — RM rugby tackle missed.
In fact it would have penalised in the egg chasing game.
Wednesday night — contact element was allowed to grow until BD had a chance of a cross late on.

CL was a different game — VAR not involved by design.
EPL — VAR is involved by design and the natives are restless.
SPL — VAR is used as insurance / analysis to deliver to a well worn agenda.
For some reason the Hibbees get it just as bad as us.

Finally — New film coming soon.
Twenty years a failure — starring the man behind the curtain aka John Swinney.
The Nats must have finally gotten over his marriage arrangements.

Big Audio Dynamite
May 2, 2024 2:50 pm

bada, 11.32

My spidey senses are tingling.

May 2, 2024 2:58 pm

Awe Naw & MIT

Thanks for replies, back to work now.

May 2, 2024 3:20 pm

Ragnick turns down Bayern job. Two of the big jobs in football up for grabs,Bayern and Liverpool,and nobody wants them?

A Thing Of Beauty
May 2, 2024 3:26 pm

Arnie Slot has taken the Liverpool Job. This the guy spurs wanted but couldn’t get so turned to Postecoglu. Given that Liverpool will probably give the new guy three years in situ then AP’s chance at his dream job with Liverpool has all but disappeared. Shame that.

Mike in Toronto
May 2, 2024 3:27 pm


I think SC should start a write in campaign and see if we can get a coaching staff of Rebus (manager), Fan (first team coach) and , Inq (he watches more football than anyone, so who better as director of scouting?) appointed to one of those two clubs.

.. and maybe they would throw us a few season tickets in return…

May 2, 2024 4:01 pm


The efforts being made to prevent the appointment of a regulator make clear the need for one.

May 2, 2024 4:10 pm

Mike in Toronton

“I think SC should start a write in campaign and see if we can get a coaching staff of Rebus (manager), Fan (first team coach) and , Inq (he watches more football than anyone, so who better as director of scouting?) appointed to one of those two clubs.”
Hi Mike:
I don’t know about Fan, but the other two are elderly pensioners, and probably considered past it.🤣
A couple of wee stories, which I’ve probably recounted here before:
Many years ago, I went with a mate of mine to watch a University of Virginia game in Richmond. They were coached by Bruce Arena, who later took the US to the World Cup.
I was blown away by the performance of a first year student playing in midfield. That night, I composed an airmail letter to Celtic, exhorting them to send someone to look at this guy. I didn’t even get an acknowledgment.
The players’s name – Gio Reyna. Ironically, after a career in Englandshire, he ended up playing for the Huns.

Many years before that, I was playing left wing for Cambria Amateurs at Stepps. In a pause in play, I noticed John Greig and Dave Provan, the then Hun management team, standing on the touchline, presumably to scout a player from the opposition or from my team ( I knew it wasn’t me ). I piped up, “Hey John, it’s no use mate, I support the other lot.” He had the grace to laugh.

Years later, I reflected how managers doing their own scouting fell out of fashion. One of my favorite foties of big Jock was of him and Sean Fallon, standing at a front rail in a dilapidated Blantyre Vics stadium, at a poorly attended game, personally scouting some player. Can’t imagine Brenda doing that now!

One final wee story. God knows how long ago now, I was in Forfar on a winter’s Saturday, and decided to take in their game with Stirling Albion. Henry Hall was playing for Stirling, so it was in that era. It was cheap to get in, so I decided to go to the stand, which was sparsely occupied, and I took a front seat, with no one really close to me.

It was bitterly cold, and I happened to be wearing a heavy sheepskin coat, with a white wool collar, bought from bulk store Macro. I noticed people staring at me, and I wondered what was going on. After about 20 minutes, a couple of young local worthies with Forfar scarves came up to me. One asked in a broad east coast accent, “Who are ye scouting, like, min?” They were disappointed to find out I was just a punter, looking for some entertainment.
Iniquitous IV😊

May 2, 2024 4:25 pm


If you see my posts earlier about beneficial judicial scheduling for Sevco I think Scotland maybe already have a secret government football regulator already in situ. In fact no mibbes about it.

May 2, 2024 4:30 pm

Afternoon all,

Talk about 5 million for Idah, got me thinking. ( Yes the wee pea brain woke up )

What’s your top 5 best ever buys for Celtic.


Just a quick thought 🍀🍀🍀

May 2, 2024 4:34 pm

Virgil Van Dyke

May 2, 2024 4:38 pm

13 years Pablophanque R.I.P

May 2, 2024 5:05 pm

I shall not accept, nor shall I seek the position of Celtic manager 🙈

At this time, thoughts turn to rebuilding the squad, irrespective of the destination of the title. Most of you will not have heard of Glen Sather, former coach of the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL. He built successful teams that won the Stanley Cup. In an interview he said two things that stuck with me. When asked how do you manage a winning team for the next season, he came up with the following. Firstly, Sather made at least one change in the winning line up. Preferably, he brought in a player who had won nothing or next to nothing. Somebody who was hungry.

Secondly, he always ensured he had at least one grafter in the team….someone not as skilled as others but had grit and a good engine.

Seems to me that whoever is driving Celtic’s recruitment, he or she(?) should take these points onboard. We should certainly be able to find a grafter, even if we replace them every two seasons or so. Oir midfield may be skilled but it is physically weak.

If I had the time and the memory I’d look at Stein’s recruitment for evidence of the above. Perhaps others can chip in on evidence of this approach.

Once again, I am not accepting any managerial position.


May 2, 2024 5:10 pm


That was just a random 5.

But, Didier Agathe , at 50,000 grand, must be up there 👍

Mike in Toronto
May 2, 2024 5:17 pm


It looks like you are getting promoted from first team coach to manager. If you dont want the job, you best stay out the shower!