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The SPL really ought to come with a government health warning; take in moderation, may cause drowsiness, over-exposure could result in acute bewilderment.

Was I trippin' or did Jim McLean, that champion tormentor of officialdom, really call on managers to go easy on referees the other day? Was I dizzy or did Neil Lennon fail to see the connection between some of the things his club have been saying abo


ut referees and a moron making a threatening phone call to Willie Collum's family? Was I dreaming or did Rangers fans actually respond by calling their opposite numbers despicable low-lifes around about the same time as some of their own brothers were camped outside Anthony Stokes' house serenading his parents with sectarian chants while trying to shove a wheelie bin through the window?

In the business of the penalty that never was at Tannadice, never has so much been made of so little by so many. Dougie McDonald, Steven Craven, Lennon, Celtic fans talking about a cover-up, the SFA carrying out an investigation, a decision handed down and yet more bleating from the denizens of Parkhead. All because of a penalty that was given and then not given.

The verdict is in and it's a fair one. A rap on the knuckles for McDonald, principally, for not clarifying that it was his decision, and not Craven's, to cancel the penalty. Of course, there has been no redress for McDonald as regards what Peter Houston said about him on the day. Houston's assertion that McDonald "conspired" against United in the match was, by some distance, the most troubling thing about what went on that day. But this is the world referees live in. Managers are allowed to take pot shots at them and they are not allowed to fight back. So comments that sound suspiciously like an accusation of cheating are levelled against him and football turns the other way, concentrating instead on an overblown soap opera over a penalty.

Let's be clear here. There is a serious issue in all of this and it is Craven's retirement from the professional game. We haven't heard from him yet, but he surely feels let down by McDonald and the way the focus of attention (and subsequent flak) was placed upon him in the aftermath of Tannadice. That's a legitimate talking point. But the conspiracy theorists among the Celtic faithful aren't so much concerned about Craven's well-being. No. The reason they've been so animated about this is because they see it as some kind of SFA stitch-up, a delusion that is part-fuelled by the people in the highest office at Parkhead.

Even after two weeks thrashing about in this most wearying saga, Celtic people have questions. Here's an edited list supplied by the Celtic Quick News website on Friday. Quite honestly, they are forensic in their detail.

On his best days, Poirot wouldn't have conducted such a clinical examination.

"Did observer, Jim McBurney, speak to Steven Craven immediately after the match?"

"Did he interview McDonald in private, or was the matter discussed in the referees'

room with all the match officials present, as is normally the case?"

"If McBurney spoke to McDonald in private, away from Craven, why?"

"Why did no evidence from Craven make it into the observer's report?"

"When did Craven give his version of events to (Hugh] Dallas or McBurney?"

"Did Dallas know the truth before speaking to the media two days after the match?"

If this event had happened on the last day of the season and had resulted in a seismic shift in the destination of the title then maybe you could understand the scale of the fallout. But, of course, it didn't. It didn't even have an impact on the outcome of the game, not to mind the outcome of the championship.

Celtic have once again written to the SFA seeking an explanation about the penalty that was given against them on Sunday. I note that they haven't said much about the Anthony Stokes tackle that should have seen the striker sent off in the opening minutes, nor the contentious moment involving Georgios Samaras later in the game. It's all about the penalty. It's like the penalty was the only big decision that was made that day.

But it's not really about an explanation though, is it? For the explanation is simple. It was a mistake. An error made under pressure. The whole world could see it for what it was. What Celtic are doing has more to do with laying down a marker for the future. It's about mind games. The place where they want to get to is for referees to go into games involving Celtic and be worried about giving big decisions against them. It's not about clarification of anything that happened at Parkhead. A blind man knows that Collum made a cock-up. What's to clarify?

On the day he was appointed, Lennon made a big issue about how he wanted his players to get in the faces of referees when they gave decisions against them. Remember? The memory of those words rather makes you question his altar-boy routine of the past week. When he presents an image of himself as a mere humble seeker of truth rather than a man looking for an edge we should recall what he said when he first took over. He promised he was going to bring back the thunder. And he has. The sound of it is ringing in the ears of Scotland's besieged referees.

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Scotsman journo. He normally doesn't have a good word to say about us and regularly gets into us about 'Bigotry'.

maybe he is like some of my scum mates, kind of embarassed by this whole thing and the way it is playing out

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