In the ongoing debate around the use of VAR and refereeing decisions in Scottish football, Celtic’s manager Brendan Rodgers has offered more nuanced comments following the controversial game against Hearts.

His earlier remarks sparked discussions, and now he seeks to clarify his stance, focusing specifically on the incidents from that match, rather than making broader criticisms of the officiating system.

The Hoops boss was unequivocal that he was not starting a witch hunt but genuinely frustrated that supposedly top referees got it so wrong, speaking to SunSport, Rodgers said “That shouldn’t be the case and I’m not saying that – I’m talking about one game here. I’m talking about the game at the weekend. I’m not talking about legacy issues or any other games. John’s refereed games that he’s been really good in. So I don’t have an issue with that. I’m talking about that one game and that was my view of that game. It’s not about anything else. Let’s focus on the football and on making good decisions.”

He emphasized the importance of accountability in the game, noting that the involvement of experienced referees like John in the VAR for that game was not a secret nor intended to be a personal attack. “We’re all accountable. Everyone knows he was in the VAR. So it’s not a secret – I haven’t mentioned someone who would never have been known. My point was more that it was someone of that experience who looked at it. John’s been around for a while now – he’s refereed big games. So I wasn’t calling John out for his name to be out there.”

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers
3rd March 2024; Tynecastle Park, Edinburgh, Scotland; Scottish Premiership Football, Hearts versus Celtic; Celtic Manager Brendan Rodgers applauds the away supporters after the match

Rodgers highlighted a contrasting incident involving referee Willie Collum to illustrate his point on the need for proper use of judgment and experience in officiating. “It was more, ‘This is a top referee managing the game and supposedly a top referee in VAR, under no pressure’. But they still got it wrong. That it was two of your top referees. We had a great one with Willie Collum the week before. There was a shout for the player to be sent off, ‘Have a look at this Willie’.”

He continued, “He gets a bit of stick, Willie Collum. But do you know what? He ran over, he looked at the screen and he went, ‘No, no, no – it’s not!’. It didn’t look like a sending off in the game but there was obviously a shout for him to have a look at it. But he ran over, he used his experience and said, ‘No, no. I get what you’re saying but it’s not a sending off’.”

Rodgers’ latest remarks aim to shed light on the specific issues from the Hearts game, advocating for a focus on football and the improvement of decision-making processes, rather than the predictable and defensive closed rank nonsense we’ve saw from the SFA since the game.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.