Raging Rangers issue second statement on Celtic penalty incident and hit out at VAR audio request timescale

The Ibrox club continue to voice concerns over an incident in the Old Firm derby

Rangers have hit out the Scottish Football Association for not yet disclosing the VAR audio from Saturday’s Old Firm defeat by Celtic, claiming that the governing body will not meet until Wednesday to discuss the request.

The Ibrox club are unhappy about the circumstances surrounding a penalty claim in the first half of Rangers’ 2-1 defeat by Celtic at Parkhead. They want to hear the discussions between VAR operator Willie Collum and match official Nick Walsh that led to the decision not to penalise Celtic defender Alistair Johnston for a handball offence while under pressure from Rangers forward Abdallah Sima. Broadcaster Sky Sports revealed on air that there was an offside against Sima that is deemed to have superseded any foul play from Johnston, with a still image presented several minutes after the incident.

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However, play restarted with what appeared to be a goal kick from Celtic goalkeeper Joe Hart rather than a free kick for offside and Rangers manager Philippe Clement revealed he was unaware of the reasoning behind the officials’ actions. It has led to Rangers issuing another statement on Sunday, less than 24 hours after their first call for VAR audio to be released, criticising the “unacceptable” timescale for convening and saying their concerns are growing over “the lack of transparency”.

Rangers claim for a penalty after the ball hits the arm of Celtic's Alistair Johnston.Rangers claim for a penalty after the ball hits the arm of Celtic's Alistair Johnston.
Rangers claim for a penalty after the ball hits the arm of Celtic's Alistair Johnston.

A Rangers spokesperson said: “Despite repeated Rangers FC requests, the Scottish FA have so far failed to disclose the VAR audio to allow the club to understand the process around the non-award of a penalty in the first half of yesterday’s Old Firm match. Rangers officials stand ready to meet in-person or virtually with the Scottish FA at any time to hear and discuss the audio. However, the Scottish FA are refusing to both share the VAR audio and meet until at least Wednesday, five days after the Old Firm match and after the next round of Scottish Premiership fixtures. This is clearly unacceptable and heightens Rangers’ concerns over the lack of transparency, for which the need is urgent.

“Rangers have learned no penalty was awarded as the VAR official, Willie Collum, concluded a handball offence had not occurred in the first half. While the club and most observers are astonished by this ‘professional’ view, we remain perplexed and concerned about the Scottish FA's motivations for sharing an offside image with broadcasters during the second half, when this was not the original reason why the penalty was not awarded.

“England’s Premier League and other leading European Leagues operate on a ‘nothing to hide’ basis, where open communication and full transparency are available to clubs and the public on contentious VAR calls in a timely manner. On a weekend where not only Rangers but also fellow Scottish FA member clubs have major questions over potentially match-changing incidents, our governing body would do well to heed that same mantra."

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