Seething Malky Mackay slams Celtic penalty decision - 'it’s incredible that’s where the VAR is set right now'

Ross County manager Malky Mackay lambasted VAR’s interpretation of the handball rule following his side’s 2-0 defeat at home to Celtic and claimed it could end up costing livelihoods.
Ross County manager Malky Mackay is shown a yellow card during the match against Celtic.Ross County manager Malky Mackay is shown a yellow card during the match against Celtic.
Ross County manager Malky Mackay is shown a yellow card during the match against Celtic.

In a diatribe prompted by Alex Iacovitti being penalised for the ball striking his outstretched arm in added time of the first period – which allowed Jota to put the visitors 1-0 up from the spot – he described Scottish football’s “bar” for such incidents “incredible” compared with English officials’ ajudicating in similar circumstances.

Mackay appeared enraged on two counts. First, by the fact that Steven Kirkland, manning the technology, instructed referee Willie Collum to consult the pitchside monitor after the ball struck the arm of Ross County captain as he challenged Cameron Carter-Vickers at a corner delivered by Matt O’Riley, and secondly at the swift decision made by Collum to point to the spot once he had reviewed the footage.

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“I’ve looked at the penalty about half a dozen times and I cannot believe that’s where the bar is set with VAR right now,” said the Highland club’s manager, whose side remain second bottom of the cinch Premiership. “Two players go for the ball bravely with their heads. Carter-Vickers and Alex Iacovitti both throw their heads at it and the ball goes between their heads and it hits Alex on the back of his arm.

“It’s ball to arm. Someone is going to have to explain to me how you jump for a ball in the box and have your arms at your side. Physically, it can’t happen. I’m looking at where the bar is set in England and where it’s set in Scotland and right now we’re not where they are.

“Clubs are paying for this. I look at standards right now and there are mistakes all over the place. It’s costing. It’s going to cost jobs, it’s going to cost clubs promotion, relegation, Europe, whatever you want to call it. I was really disappointed with that, intervening like that.”

Mackay had headed for the dressing room with the first period preparing to conclude when he was aghast at being forced to turn heel over the VAR check. “The fourth official [Mike Roncone] had told me we were now over time so I was standing at the back of the tunnel. I could see the referee start to debate and discuss and then come over to the monitor. I thought, ‘surely not’.

“I spoke to him [Collum] at half-time and he said it was the laws of the game and he has to give a penalty for the laws of the game. It’s an interesting concept. I was surprised at how quickly he made the decision because you will see it tonight and you will see pundits debate it all week. It’s incredible that’s where the VAR is set right now.”