Rangers fans and Philippe Clement are absolutely perplexed tonight at referee Don Robertson’s decision to ignore 3 of his own colleagues and stick to his red card on Dujon Sterling, in an incident which may be a first in Scottish football.
The Belgian manager even discussed this at full time with Robertson, who looked absolutely disgusted at having to go to the VAR monitor in itself, and had no intention of changing his decision whatsoever.
So let’s look at the anatomy of this call.
At full pace it looked a bad challenge, it absolutely did – Sterling went at full pace clattering into Jack Mackenzie, who clearly came off a cropper.
When slowed down, there was absolutely no evidence of high boot, and Robertson’s colleagues called for the review to be done to check this one.
The ref looked visibly irritated at being questioned in this way, as if VAR is beneath him.
So when looking at slow mo, what did we see.
We saw Sterling going in at full pace and full blood, as he should, but the notion from Philippe Clement in his defence that he ‘slipped’ was, to us, a bit of a stretch – he clearly went in for the low tackle, and followed through without major intent.
It was an honest but slightly reckless tackle and he evidently caught MacKenzie’s foot, a full stamp worth.
It was what is unofficially called in football, an ‘orange’ card. It is a bit worse than just a normal yellow, but it simply isn’t a red card. A red card is a truly horrible tackle, studs up, or dangerous and reckless. This was an honest tackle but with a bit of a mess in the timing and execution.
We believe Robertson also saw an orange card, and decided his original red card was justified, in a form, we guess, of ‘rounding up’, even though his colleagues didn’t agree, Clement didn’t agree, and the pundits didn’t agree.
In short, it did seem like the referee did not like his opinion being questioned, and stuck by that opinion no matter what everyone was telling him.
And decided, in ego, to stick by his call.
This will be overturned on appeal, and we agree with Clement that refs have a hard job to do.
But Robertson ignored the VAR evidence and went with his own view.
This isn’t really much better than Collum fiddling the VAR system against Celtic, really.