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SFA v UEFA, Celtic v Sevco the amazing penalty and red card stats contrast

The SFA has no hiding place on statistics as they prepare to hear an appeal from Brendan Rodgers against a Notice of Complaint for his comments following Celtic’s 2-0 defeat away to Hearts.

John Beaton on VAR duty prompted Don Robertson to review two first half incidents that resulted in a red card for Yang Hyun-jun and a penalty being awarded for handball against Tomiki Iwata.

Rodgers questioned the competency of Beaton, most Celtic fans suggested something else with lengthy evidence of his decision making being very different when it involves the club formed by Charles Green in the summer of 2012.

In 2014 in a Scottish Cup tie against Albion Rovers Beaton allowed a ridiculous challenge and handball by Bilel Mohsni to stand after the defender bundled the ball into the net.

From that moment on the Lanarkshire based referee was on his way to the top at the SFA rewarded with the 2020 and 2023 Scottish Cup Finals, generally regarded as reward for the best referee of the year.

Beaton is far from a lone wolf, it seems that all of the referees that reach the top under Crawford Allan have adopted similar decision making patters, in marked contrast with how UEFA match officials deal with the two Glasgow clubs.

The stats above can be accessed from Transfermarkt and other websites, on Thursday Celtic365 demonstrated how Steven Gerrard’s side received eight red cards in the SPFL the season before Allan took on his job, in his first full season they avoided a sending off in all 38 matches.

An amazing turnaround in basically the same group of players although three red cards were issued retrospectively within two months for incidents missed by David Munro, Steven McLean and Kevin Clancy.

Soon afterwards Leon Balogun and Kemar Roofe were sent off with 15 minutes at Ibrox in the Europa League defeat from Slavia Prague, the match that triggered a short lived campaign for racial equality.

There is only one way to interpret the stats given above on two of the key match changing features- red cards and penalties. Over a four year period any quirks or runs of bad luck are ironed out with the finger of blame pointed at the SFA.

Different players and managers are involved, largely the same group of referees have produced the figures.

In Summary Sevco get a red card in every eighth European match during a period where they had no SPFL red cards in 79 matches.

Across the city Celtic have fairly similar stats in one red card in 24 European matches and one in 20 in SPFL fixtures.

In Europe Sevco concede a penalty in every fourth match, in the SPFL it is every 25th game- six times less likely!

For Celtic, in Europe they conceded a penalty in every seventh match, in Europe it is every eighth game.

This week St Johnstone and Motherwell have challenged the SFA over their interpretation of VAR decisions, very similar incidents result in totally different outcomes.

In contrast when questioned by shareholders at the AGM in the most gentle of terms Michael Nicholson decides to dig into his book of Boardroom Gags.

It will be no laughing matter next Thursday if Brendan Rodgers returns from Hampden with a two match touchline ban, covering vital SPFL matches at the Toni Macaroni Arena and Ibrox.

Nicholson and the Celtic board have been aware of the statistics and trends with Allan in charge of refereeing at the SFA, it seems that they have always felt comfortable enough to tolerate the discrepancies.

This season the prize for winning the SPFL Premiership is more lucrative than ever, the stakes couldn’t be higher but as ever Celtic have taken the low profile approach to their dealings with the SFA and SPFL.


SFA, red cards, Crawford Allan

Red card stats in the first full season of Crawford Allan

Crawford Allan, SFA, ed cards

Red card stats in the full season pre Crawford Allan


In the statement accompanying news of Allan’s end of season exit SFA chief Ian Maxwell even tried to put the blame on clubs for not accepting the mistakes of officials that UEFA won’t go near for meaningful matches.

He stated:

In many ways, overseeing the introduction of VAR has been a thankless task. Yet it has been essential for Scottish football to remain at the forefront of on-field technology and in-step with the leading domestic competitions across Europe, as well as ensuring our match officials and VAR operators can continue to operate at FIFA and UEFA level.

Crawford has been integral to that process – from feasibility, to training, to roll-out – for much of his tenure and we are grateful that he will remain in place and provide continuity until the end of the season.

Whilst there is a recognition that, globally, the VAR processes need to improve, this is a challenge for all key stakeholders within Scottish football to work through in the context of our own domestic competition. This includes all key external stakeholders having a better understanding of the Laws of the Game, the lines of intervention for VAR, and the adopted guidance within Scottish football, especially in subjective areas such as the handball law.

We must work together to alleviate the unsustainable pressure on match officials and VAR operators, to remove the convenient blame culture attached to subjective or unpopular decisions, and to ensure more focus is placed on the entertainers rather than the on-field facilitators.

We will continue conversations and improvements with all stakeholders with this as a non-negotiable and unifying premise as we seek to improve the experience for all.

Perhaps if Maxwell and the SFA came out of hiding to explain decision making there would be less criticism, St Johnstone and Motherwell aren’t known as being bolshi clubs.

The only conclusion is that there are no logical explanations for the decisions and stats produced by the SFA under the instructions of Maxwell and Allan.

CLICK HERE for the Crawford Allan rumours.

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