Why the referee awarded Celtic another penalty against Motherwell

The latest edition of Ref Review looks at the incident involving Callum McGregor and Andy Rose as Celtic earned a last-gasp draw at Motherwell.

Callum McGregor wins a penalty as he goes down under a challenge of Andy Rose. Picture: SNS

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Why the referee awarded Celtic a penalty and didn’t grant Motherwell one

Something to get out of the way first. I’ve not seen this mentioned but if anyone had tried to claim this, it wouldn’t be a surprise. McGregor goes off the park before he and Rose come together. If the Celtic midfielder went off of his own volition and came back on, the referee should whistle for a foul when he interferes with play. However, in this case it’s his momentum which takes him off, which means he’s allowed to run straight back on.

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For me it’s not a foul, though the video which emerged on Thursday evening does indicate why referee Willie Collum thought it was. From the video, included above, we see that there is plenty of contact between the pair as the collide. However, what’s hard to decipher from that angle is the aggressive angle taken by McGregor as he tries to cut in front of Rose (Picture One).

Critics have called this a dive. I doubted whether this was the case before seeing the later video, and it’s clear from the clip that it’s not.

The reason I don’t believe it’s foul is because McGregor has initiated the contact with his movement, and that it’s a combination of his momentum and the contact which has taken him down. Looking at the clip several times over, McGregor almost slides down Rose’s thigh after the initial contact from the Australian’s forearm on McGregor’s back. It’s up to interpretation, as most decisions are, but I’d say if McGregor was balanced then the contact wouldn’t have been enough to knock him over. Therefore it’s not a foul.

What would also have influenced Collum’s thinking is that, from his point of view, it looks as though Rose starts off as favourite to get the ball, but that McGregor has overtaken him by the time both players converge. You do often see penalties in those positions of the park where a defender is caught out by a forward sneaking around him and then fouls the opponent. However, from the angle behind the goal (Picture Two) you can see that McGregor is always closest to the ball.

To summarise, it’s more of a penalty claim than the original replays suggested, but the angle taken by McGregor, including the speed in which he cuts in front, contributed to him going to ground as much as anything Rose does. Not a penalty for me, but not a complete travesty either.

Picture One

• Craig Anderson is a former fully qualified referee. He is also the man behind SPL Stats on Twitter.


Picture Two
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