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IT'S TIME FOR THESE; Regan must be strong or game's a bogey.


STEWART REGAN came to Scotland from north-east England via Yorkshire.

So at least he was born with a pair. And at least he has been somewhere where we would have to make use of them.

As usual, though, our blazers asked him to put his bollocks in a jar on the mantelpiece the minute he walked into Hampden.

Condoning the lies which shamefully hung linesman Steven Craven out to dry. Leaving him as the only victim of the debacle over the "penalty" at Tannadice when he was actually the only innocent.

The SFA chief executive did his best to fudge his way around it in his press conference on Friday afternoon.

He kept stressing that ultimately ref Dougie McDonald got the decision right - and that was the only thing that mattered. Which he did. Eventually.

But what really matters here is why McDonald felt the need to fabricate HOW he got to that decision in the aftermath? No-one answered that. What kind of environment has been created for refs where they think the truth is some kind of enemy? That holding their hands up to honest mistakes is going to be held against them? McDonald told a bare-faced lie to his match observer then eventually told the truth 48 hours later, only to see his superiors attempt to perpetuate the lie instead. Why? If Regan (below left) is not allowed to get to the root of the big decisions within the organisation he's supposed to have executive powers over, what are the chances of him growing a new pair in time to put Celtic in their place next week? Because, make no mistake, that's what needs to be done next here. They are the ones who have created this climate.

Regan says he wants to start a campaign which fosters respects to the refs - well, at least he knows exactly where to start.

Because this need Celtic feel to formally question every decision which goes against them? It's not just about the decisions, is it? Anarchy The not-so-hidden subtext is questioning the integrity of the officials , wondering aloud about the great agenda against their club.

I said this back in February when Celtic sent their anonymous "dossier of paranoia" to the SFA for discussion.

Yes, they've been on the receiving end of bad decisions. Join. The. Club.

Every side in the country could knock out a letter every week to Regan, wanting dodgy penalties investigated, offsides rescinded, free-kicks reviewed, bookings overturned. He could reconstitute a rainforest inside his office with the paperwork.

But they don't. Because they realise that's the road to anarchy and the death of football. What ref would ever pull his boots on if that happened? Yet here we have Celtic, feeling like their chip on the shoulder entitles them to an explanation of everything, every week. That's not coming from Neil Lennon.

It is being nurtured from above and if you look at it too closely you might start to think it was a deliberate and concerted campaign to create an intolerable environment for referees to operate in when they're doing a Celtic game.

Look at the Willie Collum incident last week. Seriously, what exactly do Celtic hope to achieve by writing to the SFA asking for an explanation for why a penalty was given to Kirk Broadfoot? You could write his reply right now. Collum will say he turned round to see Daniel Majstorovic with both his hands planted on the chest of Broadfoot, and his left leg planted across him, and the Gers player went down.

He believed at the time it was a foul so he blew for a penalty.

Collum had a split second. That's what he saw in that split second. The fact he didn't see Broadfoot take off like Phillips Idowu before any of that happened means it was the only conclusion he could arrive at.

He didn't have the luxury of replay after replay to realise he had been conned.

What Celtic WANT to hear is: "I turned round, saw Broadfoot giving it the full Fosbury flop and thought to myself: 'Gaun yersel big yin - that gives me the perfect opportunity to get it right up the Cellic. Again. My refereeing brothers will all be delighted.' Phheeeeeep. penalty."

Celtic know they won't get that. They know they will get the truth.

So why go to the bother of going public and writing to Hampden about it if your sole reason isn't to apply pressure to an already explosive situation? And the thing is, it's amazing how conveniently the decisions that go FOR the Hoops are forgotten about.

Speaking as a Falkirk fan, I can give you Stephen McManus punching the ball into the net and getting a goal, or the same player breaking Dean Holden's leg with a scandalous tackle and not even getting so much as a booking for it. Both within the last couple of years. Multiply that by every other club.

The refs aren't conspiring against everyone, are they? Listen, this isn't the best batch we've ever had - and I'm no great fan of Collum and the by-the-book way he handles games.

Honesty But the great irony is that last week, penalty decision aside, it was the most common sense he had ever applied to a game.

Normally he would have flashed a red at Anthony Stokes' face, first minute or not. He would have done the same with Lee McCulloch, with Georgios Samaras.

Because to get to where he wants with UEFA, Collum has to apply the letter of the law. But he didn't last weekend. He tried to keep players on the park.

And look where it gets him. Death threats from angry fans.

Bottom line? Regan comes across as a strong enough individual to get the job done and protect them. There IS an honesty about the new SFA chief.

He just needs to get that jar back down of the mantelpiece in a hurry or we're going to be left with no game.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUE
Date:Oct 31, 2010
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