Stephen Mcilkenny: The SFA must stop avoiding the issues and have a review of the Scottish game

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No one can deny it has been a compelling season in Scottish football, and such excitement has rightfully seen more money pumped into the future of our game.  

It’s just such a shame that our chief governing body is once again making Scottish football the laughing stock of Europe by failing to be accountable for the incompetent refereeing decisions that bring the game into disrepute.

Not for the first time football fans from Forthbank to Celtic Park are being let down by a governing body that refuses to stand up and be counted when it matters the most.

I write of course about the debate that has arisen from the shocking standards of refereeing in this country. There has been much written about John Beaton’s performance at Ibrox, much of which I do not wish to go into here, just as I do not want to talk about the inexcusable reports about the alleged threats made towards the referee according to Police Scotland.

However, the fallout from the game at Ibrox and the questions surrounding the lack of clarity over punishments in Scottish football, in general, has left a sour taste in the mouths of many fans that not even a few glasses of prosecco at New Year could wash away. 

Something has to give.

READ MORE: Chris Sutton: if online pub pics are valid then John Beaton guilty of “sheer stupidity” 

The Judicial Panel is not the brainchild of the SFA but that of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) with such panels being installed across the world to make sure the laws and protocols of the game are followed. However, the lack of transparency in the process is the fault of the SFA. While there are good intentions in the creation of a panel, the lack of scrutiny given to fans must change for the good of the game.

It’s only January but I have now lost count of the number of clubs that have come out and slammed the shocking standards of referees and the ‘strange’ outcomes from the compliance board. The SFA are pulling the wool over fans’ eyes if they think that this abysmal standard of governing can continue. Supporters are being let down on the pitch and then assured justice will be served by the much-derided compliance group behind an Oz-like veil that is even less rewarding than following the Yellow Brick Road.

But rather than admitting there is a problem and trying to tackle it, the SFA are hoping that this all blows over.

And it is their hubris that is preventing the standards of our game from improving. 

How often have we seen a manager fined for an offence in an interview or a player sent off for a kick only to have a similar incident a week later with no repercussions?

It’s almost as if the Judicial Panel consists of three ‘experts’ asking a Magic 8 ball and hoping for the best.

Can you name any other industry were such major inconsistencies would go unaddressed? Rather than coming up with a fix, the SFA seem to just want to head to the Winchester for a nice cold pint and hope it all blows over.

HeraldScotland:

As said previously, the Judicial Panel is not the brainchild of the SFA but admitting that its rollout in Scotland hasn’t been as smooth as desired would go a long way with supporters.  

In my opinion, there is an easy fix. What’s to stop the findings of the panel and the evidence used in a review being published once the case is over? Is there a reason that referee and supervisor reports and marks awarded aren’t published after every game?

While these aren’t monumental changes they would certainly help in giving fans a deserved insight into our officials and provide clarity on certain issues. 

READ MORE: Celtic hit out at SFA – and call on referee John Beaton to explain Alfredo Morelos decisions at Ibrox 

I can’t imagine managers and chairman disagreeing with knowing exactly what chance they have of having a punishment upheld/rescinded. So what is the problem in publishing all details of the case once it has concluded? It happens in the court of law, so why can’t it happen following a review within the chambers of Hampden Park?

Any fan can accept a decision going against their team if they can see the evidence and see the rules of the game are applied consistently, but it’s the SFA’s constant desire to ‘pick and choose’ when to punish managers and players that irritates so many. Somewhere in the process, something is going wrong, and it needs to be investigated. 

By being open with reviews and how rules are applied, fans would finally have insight into the whole process. Yes, some would disagree with it but at least they could see the evidence and justification into why such a decision was made.

Fans and even some clubs have suggested a review of the governing body for a number of years now, but their calls have been largely ignored. Enough clubs have been critical of decisions this year to surely warrant one or at least to ask why an investigation hasn’t been launched?

The inconsistency of fines and suspensions has to stop. The ‘picking and choosing’ of rules to apply must end. Hiding behind statements cannot and will not bring about real change. The SFA’s inconsistent approach and weak governance is systematically destroying the game and promoting claims of bias at the very top. 

What harm could possibly come from a little more transparency in the game? What is there to hide?

Something needs to change, and if this column gets at least one more person calling for a review of the game and the inept governing body then my job has been done. Then again, I am just a fan of Scottish football, and we all know how often the SFA listens to them…