The good the bad and the ugly of the beautiful game in Scotland

Back in the day, I was introduced to a very functional format for running a debrief after a mountain rescue operation.

Good points.

Bad points.

Ugly points.

The first one was fairly self-explanatory.

It meant that something was done on the hill that we should keep doing.

A bad point was something that we needed to eradicate over time.

However, an ugly point was something that COULD NEVER EVER HAPPEN AGAIN.

As I say, it was a good format for analysing situations where lives were on the line.

I disagree with Bill Shankly on football and life and death.

On Sunday in Dingwall, no one died, but Ross County gained a sporting and ipso facto a potential financial advantage through cheating.

The point that the home side conned out of the officials will not stop Celtic winning the title as they have already achieved that.

However, that point could prove crucial in the street fight to avoid the play-off place.

Consequently, that could mean the difference between top-flight football next season and playing in the Championship.

As soon as the final whistle was blown the mainstream media spoke with one voice.

All that I heard was “the referee had a shocker”.

On Twitter, I stated that “the incompetence narrative” was the party line on the penalty incident.

To err is human, but some mistakes should be career ending.

On Sunday Celtic will be at the mercy of a referee who was able to award a penalty against the Parkhead club in 2010 while his back was turned.

While his back was turned…

Here is a match report.

 “However, it was another rookie, referee Willie Collum, officiating in his first Old Firm match, who incensed Celtic manager Neil Lennon with his decision making.

Lennon believed, rightly, that Lee McCulloch, should have been shown a second yellow card in the 34th minute when he took Georgios Samaras.

He was also upset by the decision to award a penalty when Kirk Broadfoot dived as he ran past Daniel Majstorovic midway through the second half. Television replays showed that Collum, 31, had his back to the play when the offence occurred, turning in time to see Broadfoot falling.”

That was an Ugly Point that should have been a career-ending mistake.

It was the pilot missing the runway category of error.

For the avoidance of doubt, Mr Collum was highly rated by Mr Hugh Dallas when the latter was employed at the SFA.

In any functioning democracy, a free press is a vital check and balance within the system.

What we journalists are meant to do is to hold power to account.

We are not there to write permission slips for incompetence or corruption.

Moreover, we should never discount the possibility of either or both being extant within large organisations.

The agreed position among the chaps on the sports desks seems to be quite strange.

It would appear that the SFA has unearthed a unique variant of human.

They are simultaneously both entirely incorruptible and also utterly pish.

This is a rather unusual skillset.

Many in the Celtic family believe that there is an institutional bias within officialdom against the Parkhead Club.

They level this accusation against the organisation that employed the late Jim Farry and Hugh Dallas.

The former has passed on, and the latter is no longer employed at the SFA.

However, the widespread belief remains among the Celtic support that the club founded by Irish immigrants is viewed with hostility by the SFA.

If one makes the historical case for this, then you’re on strong ground.

The controversy over the Irish tricolour in the 1950s is well documented.

I think it is fair to say that the current SFA have an image problem with the contemporary Celtic support and it is not just about referees and dodgy decisions.

The UK Supreme Court is currently considering the Big Tax Case.

This entailed scores of Rangers players being “imperfectly registered” for over a decade involving hundreds of matches.

The term in quote marks us the euphuism dreamed up by SFA employee Sandy Bryson in his evidence to the Nimmo Smith Commission.

Mr Bryson was due to give evidence in the case that ultimately saw Jim Farry lose his job over the Jorge Cadete affair.

However, Farry resigned before Sandy’s testimony was required.

Once more, this was about someone in officialdom acting to disadvantage Celtic and ipso facto favour the city rivals Rangers (1872-2012).

The late Turnbull Hutton stated publicly on the steps of Hampden in 2012 that, in his opinion, the national game in Scotland was “corrupt”.

Corruption and incompetence are not mutually exclusive.

When we were debriefing after a rescue operation, it wasn’t enough to merely point out an ugly point.

You had to come up with a solution.

Well here is mine:

All match officials to be full-time.

They must disclose their club allegiance (this happens in England).

That these employment opportunities are made open to candidates out with Scotland.

Referees to be made available to the media post-match to explain their decisions.

The introduction of video technology as a pre-requisite for stadia in the top flight league.

Even if the last one were extant at Dingwall, then it would have saved the referee from making that error.

Moreover, a blunder that could now define the rest of his officiating career.

However, as we have seen with Mr Collum, such weapons-grade incompetence might not count against you in the long run.

Discover Phil’s dramatic play Rebellion