At one point, this was going to be a very different article. Up until five minutes ago, I was raging about Virgil van Dijk getting his red card rescinded. How could that possibly happen?
For him to get off with that makes a mockery of the entire disciplinary process in Scottish football. After all, this is the same process that has seen Gavin Gunning banned for kicking fresh air and Paul Paton serve two matches for allegedly spitting at a player who publicly stated that he had not been spat upon.
The announcement made anyone who wasn’t a Celtic fan throw their arms up in dismay and declare the Scottish FA corrupt.
But then even more ludicrously, Nadir Ciftci got his potential two match ban dismissed as well.
So you either have to conclude that the Scottish FA are run by clueless, Magoo types who don’t understand the rules, or that they’ve made a rod for their own backs in all future disciplinary appeals by throwing the rule book out of the window and letting everyone off to diffuse a potentially heated and angry Cup Final this Sunday.
The whole affair has led to these past five days being a tiresome exercise in that awful footballing past time of whataboutery.
From the moment the game finished, Celtic especially were trying their level best to get players suspended, with Deila, Brown and Stokes all going on record to point out what they saw as bannable offences by United players. It left a bad taste in the mouth for Arabs, and probably for any fans of sportsmanship. Leave it on the field, chaps.
And the fans of both sides – and I include myself in that – have been just as bad. There’s been non-stop scrutiny of the flash points in the game, with video clips and screen caps being over-analysed and fans of both clubs seeing what they wanted to see. It’s not really the sort of thing you want to be doing in the run up to a potentially exciting cup final.
With the dust settled, you could make strong arguments that Brown, van Dijk, Butcher and Ciftci should all have seen red for their roles in the Scottish Cup fracas, and you can equally make an argument to say that it’s a mans game and that the referee should have just calmed everyone down and then they’d all have got on with it.
But either way, the way the SFA have dealt with this is farcical.
Since van Dijk did get a red card, it should have been upheld. Butcher should have been cited but the rules didn’t allow for it, and Ciftci should also have got a ban.
Now any player should feel confident in winning an appeal in future because of the way this has been handled, and if they don’t, you really have to question the consistency of the process.
Maybe the best way to prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future is just to ditch the whole Compliance Officer deal and say the referee’s decision is final.
But then again, our referees are so incompetent that they have form – because Sunday wasn’t the first time it’s happened in Scottish Football or even at Tannadice – for sending off the wrong person, so that’s probably not an option.
It’s behind us now though, and it means both sides and sets of fans can go into the game feeling as though they have been treated equally by our ‘wonderful’ governing body.
Let’s hope the game is as exciting as last week, and that the referee and his team are up to the task.
And just before the game, maybe someone could have a word in the referee’s ear and let him know how many fouls Scott Brown has to commit before he gets a yellow card.
But don’t expect miracles.