It seems like you cant get through a single weekend of SPL action, without at least one referee making the back-page headlines.
2 Scottish whistlers were determined to steal the limelight on the opening weekend of the new SPL campaign, as both Celtic and Hamilton benefitted from some obvious refereeing mistakes.
They say that the decisions even themselves out over the course of the season, but if that were true Dundee United should have been awarded at least a dozen penalties against Celtic on the last day of the 2007/08 season.
Putting aside the obvious Mike McCurry match at Ibrox in May, there was the Christian Kalvenes sending off against Kilmarnock, the stonewall penalty against Rangers in the CIS Cup final, Willo Flood`s dubious sending off against Aberdeen, the list seemed to go on and on.
United manager Craig Levein was fined £5,000 for his public criticism of McCurry after the 3-1 defeat at Ibrox, when he “bottled” out of awarding a stonewall and chalked-off a David Weir own goal because the assistant referee talking him out of it.
Most Scottish Football supporters reckon the Old Firm get too many decisions in their favour, while Rangers and Celtic fans are always moaning about referees being biased against them.
Well, as a sort of scientific experiment, what would happen if we kept a record of refereeing blunders over the course of the season?
Lets start with weekend 1:
Celtic are awarded a 62nd minute penalty by referee Eddie Smith at Parkhead, after Vennegoor of Hesselink goes down inside the area and defender William Haining is unfairly sent off.
Referee Eddie Smith is of course the referee that caused controversy last season, by awarding the Celts a dodgy late freekick against St Mirren, which Shunsuke Nakamura to give the Parkhead side an undeserved 1-0 win at Love Street.
Smith is also the same referee who flew on the Celtic team plane to the UEFA Cup Final in Seville and is rumoured to be a big Celtic fan like the rest of his family.
Celtic = 2 Decisions For (Penalty + Red card)
St Mirren = 2 Decisions Against (Penalty + Red Card)
There was also Stuart Dougal, who awarded Hamilton a suspicious free-kick after James McCarthy dived right infront of him, and then threatened Dundee United captain Lee Wilkie with a yellow card.
Then, Dougal missed James McArthur`s using his hand to push the ball over the line and give Hamilton a 2-1 lead, with the ref waved away the United players complaints by claiming it had hit McArthurs chest.
The hand-ball might have been a more difficult decision than Vennegoor of Hesselink`s penalty claim, but Stuart Dougal was extremely quick to give them goal, with at least half the United team insisting McArthur had used a hand.
Hamilton= 2 Decisions For (Freekick + Handball)
Dundee United = 2 Decisions Against (Freekick + Handball)
In the Rangers versus Falkirk match, Douglas McDonald almost gifted Falkirk something with a soft penalty, but since they didn`t score from the spot, they didn`t gain anything from the decision.
So, match changing decisions resulted in winning goals for Hamilton and Celtic, but how does that affect our leader board???
To see the ‘Ref Watch’ league table after Week 1, Click Here
To see the ‘Ref Watch’ archive, Click Here
More Ref Watch next week…..probably!!!