THERE has been a fair bit of controversy in recent weeks regarding retrospective analysis of certain challenges made by players that received yellow cards. These were questioned and were looked at by the Compliance Committee to determine whether a red card should have been awarded by the referee in each case.

This is normal practice in most countries but some people in Scotland are of the opinion that these incidents shouldn’t even be reviewed, and the decision given by the referee at the time should stand. Personally, I don’t agree with this as the referee doesn’t always have the best view of the incident and has to give a spur-of-the-moment decision based on what they believe they’ve seen.

Over the years there have been many examples of incidents not being correctly assessed, allowing players to fortunately walk away from the situation and remain on the pitch. I feel that VAR will be a substantial aid in dealing with this situation when it finally gets introduced into the Scottish game.

Hopefully, this will help with considering those instances where a player has gained an advantage with simulation. When I was at the SFA, we were the first country in the world to introduce retrospective punishment for simulation. Or, or as it should really be referred to, ‘cheating’.

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We brought it in to cover situations where a player had attained an advantage from simulation by gaining a penalty, having an opponent sent off or being awarded a free-kick that directly led to a goal. I felt this was worthwhile as there is so much cheating in the game these days I believed that players should be punished for this and embarrassed by the public exposure.

This is still in place, although some people still disagree about what simulation actually implies. This week I saw Neil Lennon being critical that his striker Albian Ajeti was being scrutinised by the SFA for possible simulation in gaining a penalty against Kilmarnock at the start of the month.

The problem was thrust into the limelight in Lennon’s interview when he said that in Ajeti’s case there was contact, and this would make any striker go down to gain a penalty. This is very similar to many of the ex-players now doing TV punditry and I have to admit, I find it very irritating.

The contact should result in the player going down, not simply be an excuse for the player to get the award of a penalty or free-kick. To simply say there was contact has now established in many players’ minds that this is enough to justify them throwing themselves down.

Hopefully, the committee aren’t going to go down the line of only finding a player guilty of simulation if there’s no contact at all in the incident. I know the game has altered in many ways over the years but cheating should still be punishable.

If the referee sees it at the time then a yellow card is given, so that’s why I felt it important that we brought in retrospective punishment for situations where a player gains an advantage from it.

I know that we no longer have the Compliance Officer and the decisions will now be made by a three-person committee.

I think this is a better idea. If I could put the correct procedure in place, I would have the committee consisting of an ex-referee, a former manager and an ex-player.

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I do agree that there is currently a degree of inconsistency because certain incidents are highlighted on TV for analysis, and more often than not this is based on games that have either been the live game or have a top-match status. I can understand the frustration of both Rangers and Celtic as this most often involves either one or both of their matches.

The only option for this to be addressed is for the SFA have someone looking at every Premiership match and deciding which incidents should be reviewed by the committee.

This would be the fairest way of addressing the situation and offering impartiality in identifying the incidents requiring scrutiny. The SFA should appoint six appropriate individuals to complete this task on a weekly basis until VAR is finally established here in Scotland.

AND ANOTHER THING . . .

The Scottish professional lower divisions have been greatly affected by the Covid pandemic and the restrictions imposed by the authorities.

I felt that the decision made previously by the SFA was very detrimental to the game at all levels below the Premiership and Championship of the Scottish game. I believe it was taken to appease the Scottish Government after Celtic’s Dubai trip caused such controversy last month.

This time, however, the decision has obviously come from the Government as the football authorities had agreed that League One and Two clubs could resume their training again mid-February, with a view to commencing their season again in March. I can fully understand the anger and frustration that has arisen from this.

With the lower league clubs agreeing to put strict testing measures in place going forward, I really do think they have a strong case for appealing against this decision. I can only hope the Government will be understanding.