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Time for Nicholson to finally step up and ‘press for the highest standards in relation to the VAR’

Michael Nicholson is apparently a top sports lawyer, he’s been paid by Celtic for 11 years. Firstly as Company Secretary, then as Director of Legal and Football Affairs and is now well into his third year as CEO.

Apparently he is driving to have Celtic world class in everything they do, where that has already been achieved that isn’t recorded.

When Brendan Rodgers faced a Notice of Complaint from the SFA Celtic shelled out to bring in Nick de Marco, a leading KC with the Celtic boss found guilty and handed a two match touchline ban, one of them suspended until the end of this season. Nicholson sat on the sidelines despite more than a decade at the heart of football legislation.

Within an hour of The Sun revealing the punishment that Rodgers will serve Celtic published a statement, there is a good chance that it had been prepared some time before the Hampden appeal.

Following a hearing by the SFA disciplinary panel today (Thursday), Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has been issued with a two-match suspension. One match is immediate and will apply to this Sunday’s Premiership game against Livingston, while one match is suspended until the end of the 2023/24 season.

A Celtic Football Club statement said: “Clearly, we are disappointed with the outcome of today’s hearing, although we will accept the panel’s decision.

The Manager appeared at the hearing today, and his defence was presented robustly and thoroughly.

Like many other clubs, we will continue to press for the highest standards in relation to the VAR process in Scottish football.” 

Prior to that there had been no comment from the club on the decision making in the 2-0 defeat at Tynecastle, no reaction to the Notice of Complaint issued to Rodgers, just the traditional disappointed statement after the appeal against the red card of Yang Hyun-jun’s red card was rejected.

Today from a match that they have won Celtic have the opportunity to ‘press for the highest standards in relation to the VAR process in Scottish football’ which is apparently something that they continue to press despite the lack of any evidence. Nicholson knows that the ball is in is court.

Pushing for the breakthrough at Livingston, with seven minute to go until half time the ball was played towards Kyogo Furuhashi around the penalty spot.

Caught on the wrong side of the striker Micky Devlin charged through with his right foot kicking Kyogo’s left heel, with the follow through seeing his thigh complete the job by sending the Celtic striker over.

Robertson was close to the scene and didn’t want to know, seven years ago the same referee couldn’t wait to award Ross County a penalty for theatrics from Alex Schalk with Eric Sviatchenko at least a yard away.

Play continued for around a minute, a VAR check took place but very quickly Robertson was instructed to play on, nothing to review from Muir, no request to check it on the pitchside monitor.

Earlier in the month John Beaton combed the various camera angles at Tynecastle for the view that he wanted, today it seemed that Muir took one look and decided that there had been no contact.

The week before the travesty at Tynecastle Celtic were again on the wrong end of VAR non-decisions during the 3-1 win over Motherwell.

Theo Bair suffered no punishment for a running head high challenge on Liam Scales, with the match tied at 1-1 Dan Casey raised his arm to deflect a shot from Yang over the bar.

Gavin Duncan decided not to act on either incident, Celtic kept silent then paid the price the following week with the Robertson & Beaton Tag Team at Tynecastle.

If a manager mentions incompetence he gets a Notice of Complaint and suspension, if a club wages a campaign to black ball a certain referee they get their way with their manager praised by the SFA’s Head of Refereeing.

For guidance on how to carry out this exercise Nicholson only has to look at the campaign against Willie Collum from inside Ibrox.

With pet reporters in place at the Daily Record, Sun, Daily Mail, Herald/Glasgow Times, Sky Sports, BBC and STV a source reveals detailed criticism of a VAR official.

That kicks up a stir, you repeat the exercise as you have your sit down with Ian Maxwell and Crawford Allan and then when the sources releases the third round of quotes he tells a fan media outlet that a request has gone in for a certain official to be left out of future fixtures.

While the other 11 clubs suffer more of the named official you get guys like Beaton, Muir, David Dickinson and Steven McLean getting your fixtures more frequently.

Being a leading sports lawyer Nicholson knows how to play this game, on Tuesday the officials for Ibrox will be announced.

If the Celtic CEO opts to crack jokes with his boardroom buddies rather than undermining Muir and serving notice to other officials there is every chance that next Sunday’s VAR errors are far more costly to Celtic than today’s.

It looks like Beaton or Nick Walsh with referee next Sunday’s Derby at Ibrox with Greg Aitken on VAR (Andrew Dallas was on VAR against Hibs yesterday).

CLICK HERE for the three unanswered questions from Rodgers’ SFA hearing.

CLICK HERE for the Crawford Allan rumours.

Don Robertson, Alan Muir

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