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Only two saves made in the game, one by Joe and one by Connor- Beaton bottles out of explaining Starfelt penalty decision

On the eve of the new season the SFA have launched another charm offensive to explain to supporters how thorough and wonderful everything will be with VAR.

With Andrew Dallas and Greg Aitken cementing themselves into full-time gigs in the SFA’S VAR nerve centre there is every reason for fans of 11 Premiership clubs to be concerned over what is about to unfold.

At Kilmarnock today Micky Beale’s side go into action without having conceded a penalty kick in any of their last 55 SPFL matches.

That run stretches back to Pittodrie, January 2022 when Lewis Ferguson slotted one home against Allan McGregor. Both managers at that match, Stephen Glass and Giovanni van Bronckhorst are long gone, as are most of the players but the consistency of SFA referees stands the test of time.

This is the second 55 match run without conceding a penalty for the Ibrox club who are never shy about claiming a world record or two.

Ahead of the new season a reporter from The Scotsman decided to tick off the big question that supporters of other SPFL clubs all discuss and know the answer to, it is an issue rarely raised in the media.

There is, though, one question it is difficult to answer. How in a VAR world that inevitably produces more penalties, Rangers have now gone 55 top flight games without conceding a single one, an oddity that is manna for conspiracy theorists.

You are asking for an impossible question to be answered,” added Beaton, who boasts 26 years experience in the middle. “Stats are stats and you can present stats on how x, y and z have happened. All we can do is show you things on an incident by incident basis. And if you show us something and say, ‘how is that not a penalty kick’ then we can talk about that incident. But when a club goes a period of time without conceding a penalty then we need to look at incidents individually. It’s impossible to comment on a longer-term statistical thing. It’s an anomaly and stats will back up a story any way you want them to back up a story. All I can tell you is talk through decisions and say, ‘here’s what we did here.”

It seems like the reporter declined to follow up the initial question with one very obvious penalty incident standing out from last season, Celtic’s first visit to Ibrox, on January 2.

Beaton was in charge of four SPFL matches involving the Ibrox club last season. A 3-0 win at Tynecastle, both of Aberdeen’s visits to Ibrox and most controversially Celtic’s 2-2 draw.

Trailing 2-1 and trying to force an equaliser a cross from the left fell to Carl Starfelt eight yards from goal. These days many defenders go out to charge down a shot with their arms behind their back- not Goldson.

The former Shrewsbury star raced towards the ball with both hands unnaturally out in front and blocked the shot from the Celtic defender.

Beaton had a clear view of the incident but decided to do nothing, in the VAR studio his Lanarkshire colleague Willie Collum is street-wise enough to know the scene. After the briefest of pauses as Celtic took a throw in the game continued. Earlier in the match he had awarded the home side a penalty.

Andy Walker later let the cat out the bag that Sky Sports has a feed to the conversation between the match referee and VAR. Any concerns about the decision and the process could easily have been cleared up by releasing the audio. The SFA decided against doing that.

Four days after that match STV reported Postecoglou saying: “There’s been people doing mental gymnastics to try and show why it’s not. It’s just really confusing for players in the box to know what they can or can’t do.

Just now it seems to change depending on who is in charge of the decision making process because there has been zero consistency in the decisions being made.

Over the course of a season these things usually even themselves out, but since the introduction of VAR and the decisions that have gone against us in particular, there is zero chance that is going to even up by now and the end of the year.

We have had, at least, three remarkable decisions that have gone against us and again we can say ‘it comes down to interpretation’ but I guarantee you if that was Rangers who were denied that decision, then the talk this week would be how that was a title defining decision.

The fact that it wasn’t was because we still managed to get a result, as we have in other games when decisions have gone against us. But that shouldn’t mean we ignore it, because that could be a team that gets relegated on a decision like that.

I think it needs to be highlighted, I think there still needs to be clarification but it was a penalty in my mind, before we even started introducing VAR, it’s always been a penalty.

To be honest there was only two saves made in the game, one by Joe and one by Connor.”

That was about the only time that Postecoglou spoke about Scottish referees, six months later he left Celtic.

Willie Collum will referee today’s match at Rugby Park, the referee that breaks the proud 55 match run knows the consequences that follow.

CLICK HERE for Beaton’s matches last season, when he isn’t refereeing he usually spends matchdays at The Crown Inn, Bellshill.

CLICK HERE to watch the Goldson handball and Postecoglou’s comments on Sky Sports.

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