Letter to Ian Maxwell SFA

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Joe O'Rourke
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Letter to Ian Maxwell SFA

Postby Joe O'Rourke » Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:19 am

Below is a letter I sent to Ian Maxwell of the SFA yesterday at lunch time before the news broke that Steve Clarke had been cited to appear before the Disciplinary Panel for comments made regarding the same Panel.

It is now time all clubs in Scotland and their supporters, demanded an inquiry into the workings of, and the operations of the Disciplinary Panel. The decisions being made by the panel are so unbalanced that no-one outside of Scotland would actually believe that they are not made up, or are meant to compete with "Still Game" for the Comedy Show of the Year Award.

Dear Mr Maxwell,

We have never met so I’ll introduce myself. My name is Joe O’Rourke, I’m General Secretary of the Celtic Supporters Association. I met your predecessor Stewart Regan on several occasions, and swapped many emails with him.

I thought when Mr Regan came into Scottish Football he would be a force for good, and a breath of fresh air, that turned out not to be the case, I felt the same about you when you were appointed to your post, I sincerely hope you are not following on from where Mr Regan left off.

Scottish Football for many years was run by people who were less than honest, and seemed to favour one team over the rest of Scottish Football, I am saddened to say that it appears to be heading in that direction once again.

One of the biggest scandals in world sport was washed over by the SFA, that scandal being the tax evasion by Oldco Rangers. There is also an ongoing investigation into the awarding of a European Licence to the same club in 2011, so I won’t go into that at this stage, suffice to say that the Resolution 12 Bhoys and Celtic FC will be watching with interest.

My real concern at this stage is the way the disciplinary decisions are being made, and by the faceless people who are making those decisions. I’m sure you are aware of some of the incidents, but let me refresh your memory.

The most recent incident occurred at Celtic Park on September 2nd. Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor (not to be confused with the one who was banned for life from playing for Scotland, surely can’t be the same one). McGregor kicked out at Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer , as nothing was given by the match officials, it was thought they missed the incident. The incident was shown widely on television, and all the commentators agreed it was a red card offence, including now retired top referee Dermot Gallagher. But lo and behold at the compliance hearing McGregor gets off with the assault.

At least this time the player was cited. Earlier in the season Stephen Naismith kicked out at Celtic Player Jonny Hayes and got away with it, the same player had a horrendous tackle on Celtic Captain Scott Brown last season, again he got away with it.

This is not just happening to Celtic, every team in Scotland is suffering, well except one team who appear to get all the decisions from the match officials, and if the don’t, they certainly seem to win all their appeals. Aberdeen and Kilmarnock have this season had cause to complain about decisions going against them.

I have to conclude that the system in Scotland is flawed, or maybe more to the point, the people operating within the system are flawed. Bullying and intimidation appears to be working, and it’s all coming from one team, and their supporters.

I’m not sure a panel made up of former referees is the best was to handle charges or appeals. Like other walks of life, the referees like doctors or teachers tend to support each other. A panel of former players might be better, especially one whereby the former players have no emotional attachment to the club the players being charged play for.

You have a chance Mr Maxwell to stand up to the bullying and intimidation, and if you do that you will get the support of most of the teams in Scotland and their supporters. If you don’t, then you just become the latest fall guy, just like your predecessor, maybe you should take your lead from the late Turnbull Hutton, he stood up to the bullies, it’s a great pity there are not more like him in Scottish Football.

Having said all that, let me wish you all the best in your very difficult position. We need greater transparency and accountability, I sincerely hope you are the man to provide it.

Yours sincerely,

Joe O’Rourke,
General Secretary,
Celtic Supporters Association,

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