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The Willie Collum comments that accelerated Crawford Allan’s SFA exit

Willie Collum won’t be getting anywhere near a meanigful SPFL match involving Philippe Clement’s side. Every fan, manager and referee in the country knows that, no one more so than Crawford Allan.

Despite that knowledge backed up by 10 rounds of SPFL appointments the Head of Refereeing at the SFA made a round of media appearances on February 15 to reassure everyone how wonderful all matters CAR were, no one was fooled, today it was announced that Allan will be walking away at the end of May.

That round of interviews followed the weekend Scottish Cup ties in which Willie Collum had been given Ayr United’s Scottish Cup tie at Ibrox. The timing was very convenient when everyone in Scottish football knew that the Lanarkshire official won’t be allowed anywhere near an SPFL match involving Philippe Clement’s club.

Following an offside decision in the December 30 Glasgow Derby Collum was identified as the fall guy to deflect away from Clement’s first domestic defeat.

Two rounds of statements were issued to media partners, in the third set ‘an Ibrox source’ told the Heart & Hand podcast that the SFA were informed that Collum should no longer be involved in matches involving the 2012 Tribute Act.

Every other media outlet picked up on that detail, the ‘Ibrox source’ was widely quoted, shamefully 10 rounds of SPFL matches later Allan and the SFA have complied with that request.

Alan Muir, David Dickinson, Steven McLean and John Beaton are now getting additional appointments with the role of referee, Fourth Official or VAR out of bounds for Collum. He did get Celtic matches on February 25 and March 10 as Allan retreated into the protective bubble of the SFA- until today.

After two months of campaigning against Collum Clement told a media conference that he hadn’t been aware of the leaking of statements to media messengers.

Hilariously he claimed that it wouldn’t happen again which had some elements of the Scottish media preparing to nominate the former Monaco boss for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Making his annual public appearance to tell everyone how well VAR is working Allan couldn’t resist praising the manager of a club that had blackballed a leading referee.

That was very helpful (Clements’s comments). That comment was very supportive and I know it was well received by the referees. I think that’s what we should be doing, we should be focusing in on the positive. I have seen other recent appointees to Scottish football, managers, saying that the initial experiences of Scottish referees are positive, so long may that continue.

Allan said nothing as the statements piled up against Collum. No Notice of Complaint was issued against anyone from Ibrox over the claims made about Collum, in July 2012 Neil Doncaster got the Five (Six) Way Agreement signed off to provide the Tribute Act with a separate set of Rules compared to other members of the SFA.

Claiming that Collum hadn’t been blackballed Allan told the Daily Record:

At no point will a club influence a decision of a referee appointment in Scotland. I can categorically state that the Scottish FA will appoint referees to the best of that person’s experience, ability and professionalism. We will be appointing referees as their experience and profile is appropriate for.

We totally reject any request from any club that a referee would not be considered for their club appointments.

We don’t want to make any massive headlines from one referee. It doesn’t matter if it’s one person’s name out there, it affects all the referees. We have to protect them all.

Asked about the prospect of Collum refereeing the April 7 Glasgow Derby at Ibrox Allan said:

Willie will be in the frame with every other referee for consideration for games, whether they be in the league, in the cup or whatever. We’ll make that decision nearer the time.

Today the brave front that has been put up by Allan and the SFA started to crumble with the announcement that the Head of Refereeing was stepping down at the end of the season.

In the statement from the SFA Ian Maxwell explained:

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.

Since VAR was introduced to the SPFL in October 2022 the SFA has closed ranks leaving everyone from players, fans and managers to speculate about the reasoning for decisions and the relation between VAR and match referees.

The images used to decide on offside decisions are open to ridicule with distant angles and thick lines going through various body parts quickly flashed up on television leaving no-one any wiser.

In November 2022 the SFA admitted to a camera failure during a Motherwell v Celtic match with their justification claiming that Jota was offside when the ball was received!

With Allan stepping down the campaign to bring in Bobby Madden as his successor is already underway with a number of media outlets already polishing his reputation despite his handling of Celtic’s 2022 Scottish Cup semi-final defeat and complete failure to progress in England forcing his decision to retirE.

CLICK HERE for Sportscene is deep in denial over Celtic penalty claim.


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