Scottish Football, SFA

The Debit Collum

Good Morning.

So, everyone’s favourite Wielder Of The Red Card, Willie Collum has been banished to the lower leagues (also known as ‘The Place Where Warbo Wants His B Team To Play Alongside Sevco’) for an extended stay after some extremely poor performances. 

STV gave a pretty straightforward account of the position in this piece:

Willie Collum dropped from Premiership games after series of blunders

In short, it says “High profile Scottish referee makes a series of blunders, so is removed from top matches for a while”.

But the Record had a somewhat different take, having obtained the views of ‘Hampden sources’…
SFA decide to axe Willie Collum over fears for whistler’s confidence after high-profile blunders in recent Premiership matches

Yes you read that correctly! As the piece explains:

“His latest live TV howlers even led to calls for the whistler to be stripped of his status as the nation’s No.1 official and the SFA’s ref chief John Flemming has stepped in to keep Collum out of harm’s way.

Rather than throw him back into the Premiership this weekend, Collum has been asked to take charge of Falkirk’s clash at home to promotion rivals Queen of the South. And then, on March 1, Collum will be back at the bottom end of the Championship for a relegation showdown between stragglers Dumbarton and Alloa.

A Hampden source confirmed last night: ‘A decision has been taken to try to add a bit of calm to the situation surrounding Willie at the moment.

He has had a very difficult time of things recently and has been at the centre of a storm. It seems obvious that his confidence has suffered and so the sensible thing to do is to take him out of the firing line for a few games.

Some people will view it as a demotion but it’s more about protecting a good referee who is struggling to find his best form – and who has a very big summer ahead of him.’

Barring any more mishaps during his extended stint in the second tier Collum is expected to be returned to more high profile matches early in March.”

Poor Willie!

I don’t know about you, but the comments of the ‘Hampden source’ certainly ‘speak’ to my perception of the SFA. 

You would think that their key concerns should be whether the sport is being run fairly and effectively, and whether paying punters are likely to have the game ruined by yet another refereeing blunder. But no, the suits at Hampden arguably seem more bothered about protecting ‘their’ man. A chap who is (somehow) going to represent them at an international tournament this summer.

It’s fabulous isn’t it?!

It would be fascinating to know why Collum (and other officials) are allowed to make so many epic mistakes before the SFA feels compelled to act. And why ‘acting’ involves inflicting an under-performing referee on the lower leagues!

I would also like to understand the precise criteria against which Collum’s performances in lower-league matches will be judged before he is allowed to return to the top flight.

“Barring any more mishaps” isn’t exactly very scientific is it?

And I love the idea that 

The paying customers of Scottish football deserve much greater transparency about the qualifications, experience and performance standards of our referees. Otherwise we might end up concluding that the SFA is primarily focused on ‘looking after its own’ rather than providing us with the best possible footballing spectacle…

Which couldn’t possibly be true, could it?