It has been confirmed by Rangers that the controversial VAR audio from Saturday’s Old Firm contained no reference to any offside call, proving without any doubt that Willie Collum potentially deliberately sabotaged the result and tried to cover it up with a fraudulent offside reference.
A statement today revealed Rangers have now heard the offending VAR discussion, and at no point did Collum or any other official make reference to the alleged Abdallah Sima offside, only contriving that as evidence later when Johnston’s clear handball had been exposed.
In short, Collum systematically ignored Johnston’s handball, and did not alert on-ptich referee Nick Walsh to the offence which would have been a clear penalty to Rangers.
The ramifications of this are huge:
It is the first official confirmation from any interaction with any official over any decision which reveals potentially blatant match-fixing, or attempt to influence the result and it is understood at the very least Rangers have demanded Collum never works on a Rangers match again.
What are the implications?
If we are to give Collum the benefit of doubt that this wasn’t deliberate match influence, then at the absolute basis he made a massive blunder in missing Johnston’s hand ball, or misunderstood badly the rules of the game that he is supposed to be competent in.
But what is 100% clear no matter his innocent or guilt on that occasion, is that he did get ‘found out’ and covered his ‘error’ up with the offside to try to justify why the penalty was not given.
Either way, Collum either deliberately ignored a hand ball, or made a mistake but deliberately covered up his own error.
Which means he is no longer fit for purpose.
Human error we know can happen, and we’d always forgive a ref for an honest mistake.
But on this occasion Collum is 100% guilty of at least one of the offences, both of which are extremely significant and point to systemic corruption and an abuse of VAR and power.
So what now?
Collum has to face accountability here. He must at least never officiate on a Rangers match again, and/or take significant time out from the game.
We now know he is capable of getting things very wrong and not admitting it, or deliberately hijacking.
And that is unacceptable in professional football.
For example, it is widely understood PL ref Steve Hooper’s horrific error which hurt Man City’s breakaway and got Erling Haaland into trouble gutted the man in black, who didn’t directly apologise but was clearly immensely distressed by it. He accepted accountability but was protected rightly by Howard Webb who described him as being devastated.
On this occasion, Rangers have had to borderline threaten the SFA to get some answers on such blatant misconduct.
This isn’t about a missed penalty any more, it’s about abuse of power and dishonesty within referees.
And on that front Collum has failed spectacularly.