Glasgow MSP submits motion calling for SFA 'transparency' amid Rangers row

Officials from Rangers met with the SFA this week to discuss an incident from the Old Firm derby.

Glasgow MSP James Dornan submits motion for SFA ‘transparency’ amid Rangers row SNS Group

A Glasgow MSP has submitted a motion to the Scottish Parliament calling for ‘transparency’ from the Scottish Football Association.

SNP MSP James Dornan, who represents Glasgow Cathcart, has submitted a motion to Holyrood calling for Scottish football’s governing body to release audio conversations between video assistant referee (VAR) officials during Rangers’ 2-1 defeat to Celtic last weekend.

The Ibrox club issued a statement following a meeting with SFA officials on Wednesday after being ‘deeply concerned’ over the refereeing decision making process during the Old Firm derby.

The incident in question concerned the decision not to award a penalty to the visitors when Celtic defender Alistair Johnston appeared to handle the ball in the box.

Referee Nick Walsh was not called over to the monitor to review the incident as official Willie Collum was in place at Clydesdale House as VAR official.

Footage released to live broadcaster Sky Sports showed that Rangers attacker Abdallah Sima was offside in the build up to the incident meaning any penalty award would have been overturned.

However, Rangers upon hearing the audio surrounding the incident released a statement revealing their concern over the decision making process before the SFA hit back in response.

Now the MSP has submitted a motion to consider an independent regulator for Scottish football should the SFA and the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) continue with their ‘ongoing culture of secrecy’.

Alistair Johnston and Abdallah Sima were involved in a flashpoint in the Old Firm derby. Photo: SNS Group.

The motion reads: “That the Parliament supports recent reported moves by Glasgow Rangers FC to get the Scottish Football Association (SFA) to release the conversations by video assistant referee (VAR) officials during the recent game against Celtic FC; recognises what it sees as the longstanding culture of secrecy that exists within the ruling hierarchy of Scottish football; urges the SFA to ensure that all VAR decisions, and any other decisions requested by a club involved, are made publicly available on such a request, and believes that, if the SFA and Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) continue with what it considers is their ongoing culture of secrecy, then there is a need to consider an independent regulator for football, similar to the plans reportedly due to be introduced into the UK Parliament, but one which would be unique to the circumstances of Scottish football.”

The SFA said on Thursday: “The Scottish FA is disappointed by contents of the most recent statement issued by Rangers in relation to a match incident during the club’s recent Premiership fixture against Celtic.

“Chief executive James Bisgrove and director of football operations Creag Robertson attended a private briefing with the head of referee operations, Crawford Allan, to review the incident in question, including the use of matchday audio.

“We understood from the chief executive that the meeting had been constructive and informative, and conducted amicably.

“This does not appear to be reflected in the club’s statement.

“During the meeting, it was pointed out that the incident in question was a subjective handball and that the VAR did not deem it a sufficiently clear and obvious error to refer to On Field Review.

“Furthermore, the offside would not have been mentioned at the time as it was not part of the VAR’s decision-making on the handball.

“It was highlighted within Clydesdale House that had the VAR considered the incident to be a handball offence and asked the referee to carry out an On Field Review, the Attacking Phase of Play would have been checked and an offside would have been identified.

“This supplementary information was relayed to broadcasters in-game, and we are reviewing the process of information dissemination to avoid any perceived ambiguity in future.

“There was an overall consensus that the incident could not have led to a penalty kick being awarded in any event, and that there was no impact on the final outcome of the match.

James Dornan submitted the motion titled ‘Calling for SFA transparency’. Photo: Scottish Parliament.

“Scotland’s VAR protocol is in many ways modelled on the PGMOL system, and we are in regular dialogue with our colleagues in England on knowledge sharing and improvements.

“VAR has been operational in Scotland for just over a year, whilst it has been operational in England for more than four.

“Since the summer, we have ensured that Key Match Incidents are reviewed and shared with all clubs after every full round of 11 Premiership fixtures, including use of audio.

“We will continue to do this, along with KMI being shared with the Independent Review Panel for their consideration and opinion.

“Finally, we note posts from a recent official media partner of the club’s detailing requests from the private meeting that were immediately rejected.

“We would ask that club representatives show greater responsibility in such matters, especially in the context of recent incidents in European football that have compromised the safety of match officials and led to widespread condemnation.”

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