A Tissue Of Lies?

23734723Welcome to Day Five of the Josh Meekings handball debate.

Today, it appears clear that every single question the fans have been asking, in the course of the last week, has been fully justified and vindicated.

The final confirmation of it came last night, when the BBC Scotland website obtained information on what was in the referee’s report that was presented to Inverness and their lawyers at Hampden yesterday.

According to that report, Alan Muir told Steve McLean that he had seen the ball hit Meekings on the head, and that McLean had decided, on that basis, not to award the spot kick and send the player off.

This story, although certainly plausible, flatly contradicts the version of events the SFA has been pushing all week, and which they used in their justification for bringing a case against Meekings in the first place.

It suggests that at some point between Sunday and now a bunch of people sat down and fabricated a cover story.

It suggests that one of two people is lying; either John Fleming was when he briefed the media on Monday, telling them the officials had all missed the incident, or Steve McLean is lying in the version of the match report he handed over for yesterday’s hearing.

I am going to assume that Fleming will have read McLean’s initial report, or at least spoke to him at length for his version of events prior to the head of referees talking to the media earlier in the week.

Based on that, I can only assume that he either read or heard that same story as was in McLean’s report yesterday, and which he miscommunicated, for reasons unknown, or he heard a different story, one in which none of the officials had witnessed the incident.

It’s important to understand the significance of this.

Since the start of the week, incredulity has been growing amongst football fans over what the official line is here.

I said yesterday that I suspected that Celtic had queried this decision and were initially told the officials hadn’t seen it.

Once the outcry on Twitter exploded and Celtic were made aware that footage demonstrated, clearly, that Muir had seen something they then queried this matter with the SFA. That’s how it would have started.

Let’s forget, for a day, the bunch of hacks who used this as an easy excuse to have a kick at Celtic.

There will be time, later, for scrutinising the behaviour of Messer’s Durham and Spiers, amongst others.

For now I want to present a challenge to the rest of our journalists.

I know you guys read the blogs. I know some of you read this one. You might not like everything we say, but you’re not intellectually dishonest. You know a story when you see one. You know what will sell papers. You know what will stir the soup.

You also know that as much as you might have disdain for us (and we for you, who am I kidding?) that it comes from the fact that a lot of bloggers see shadows that aren’t there and write everything whether true or not.

(Much as some of you have in the past. Off the high horse, right?)

But you know (as we do) that even a broken clock is right twice a day.

When we’re on to something you know it, and on occasion you’ve nicked inspiration from us.

We all know it happens. None of us minds it, really.

There are times when we do all want the same thing.

I know some of you can smell the stink on this.

For once just write the fucking news.

Don’t pick sides or worry about who you’re going to piss off. This is what you got into the gig to do. Some of you know that the issues we’re raising are right. Some of you know that something really major might actually have happened here.

Work with the bloggers for once instead of seeing us as shit stirrers.

We’ve been presented with stories that don’t fit. With facts that don’t add up.

Those facts, by the way, have largely come from you.

We’re not all conspiracy theorists. Sometimes there are conspiracies and sometimes we spot them first. Hey, I’m even willing to acknowledge that it may be a symptom of paranoia in itself. We see them first because we’re always watching for them …

Regardless; you can get back to calling us nutjobs later.

For now, there’s business to be done.

And there’s a story here, and you know it as well as we do.

You have access many of us don’t have. Use it. Write what you find out.

If we’re wrong, if somehow we’ve missed something, fill us in on what that is.

If we’re right, all we can ask is that you join us in demanding reform.

So get the reports. Talk to the officials. Speak to the clubs.

Ask the SFA to explain their actions here, to explain these contradictory stories.

Satisfy yourselves, fully, that what you’re hearing is on the level and present the facts without fear or favour.

First, what actually did pass between Alan Muir and Steve McLean out on the pitch? What did Muir tell him he’d seen?

Secondly, when did Celtic ask for clarity on this matter and what prompted them to do so?

If anyone believes it was simply a case of the supporters being outraged on social media then I have a big bridge spanning the Clyde to sell those people. If Celtic were in the habit of responding to supporter demands on Twitter Lionel Messi would be in a hooped shirt and the media and legal offices would be on continuous shifts, “24/7, we never close.”

No, Celtic had a more compelling reason for what they did than just fans being cheesed off.

Something didn’t add up here, and they wanted answers.

Third, when Fleming spoke to the media on Monday and told them none of the officials had seen the incident, what information did he have that led him to say that? Who did he speak to? What reports did he read? Was he guessing? Making it up as he went along?

Fourth, when did Fleming receive the final reports from the match officials, and what was in those?

If the same information is in those as was disclosed to the BBC then the SFA has one of many problems here, because unless the system of governance is completely arse over head Fleming and the rest of the hierarchy must have known, prior to the filing of a charge against Josh Meekings, that the referee had been informed that there was nothing to the incident and made a judgement on it at the time.

Fifth, if Fleming was telling the media on Monday that no-one saw anything, and this was based on what he had been told by the match officials, when did they change their story, and was it changed for them at the suggestion of Fleming or others when it became clear that Inverness were going to involve lawyers in this case?

Sixth, if Fleming coerced their story or was involved in helping them craft it, does the SFA really believe he is fit to be head of referees?

If Fleming was misled by his officials, on the other hand, what sanctions will be imposed on them, and will the SFA explain why they felt they had to lie to their superiors, and apologise to both clubs, the press and the fans for allowing this to become a week of back and forth allegations?

If this is simply a mistake of some horrendous nature, a missed translation if you will, then tell us how that happened.

Seventh, was the decision to discipline Josh Meekings taken when John Fleming and others were in possession of a report which rendered the charge groundless, and if so who took the decision to proceed with the case anyway, and why?

Or did the officials persist in the “we saw nothing” story right up until the day of the hearing itself?

Is it the officials who almost cost the player a place in the final?

Eighth, at some point in this affair FIFA got involved.

What representations did they make to the SFA, what assurances did they seek, what advice did they give and what was the result?

Nine, what information did the SFA present to them regarding the charge, and was it different from that which they were still telling the media and the player before the hearing began?

Ten, at what point did it become obvious to the press itself that this was becoming a scandal?

These are just some of the questions that need to be answered here.

The SFA has spent the past week telling us that nobody this incident clearly. Had the official SFA line been what it is today – that Muir saw what he thought was a ball hitting a player’s face, and communicated that to the referee – this thing would have died in a day.

Instead, Fleming said no-one had gotten a proper look at the incident.

Television evidence proved that to be false before they admitted as much when they dismissed the case that they had, themselves, brought about as a result of that twisted version of events.

It looks, to many people, as if Josh Meekings was to be the scapegoat for God knows what, to protect God knows who.

Inverness rightly resisted that railroad job and when they involved their legal team it was clear to everyone the SFA was in big bother.

Do they really think dismissing this case changes that?

Give Neil Doncaster his due anyway – and this is the only time you will ever read those words on this page, I guarantee it – when this site and others hammered at his organisation over their ridiculous decision to move the Hearts – Sevco game, they saw the writing on the wall pretty damned quick and reversed the decision within 48 hours, albeit only after they had made it 100 times worse with a ludicrous press statement that made jaws drop everywhere.

In this case the SFA appears to have clung to a cover story that was never going to hold, and they did this for four full days before, under the scrutiny of Harper and McLeod, it all fell apart.

We need to get to the bottom of this, and right quick.

I really don’t want to still be writing about it a week from today.

There are other stories out there, after all.

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James Forrest

James Forrest is a writer and blogger from Glasgow, and the author of two books, Fragments and Believers, which are available on Amazon.

21 thoughts on “A Tissue Of Lies?

  • 24 April, 2015 at 4:00 am

    Great read as always James.

    As is always the case, if they’d told the truth in the begining they wouldnt need to tie themselves in knots trying to cover their lies! LNS springs to mind 🙂

    The most annoying aspect, as u point out above, is that the smsm has access to the people who should be grilled regarding this, however, as we have already read and heard, they’d much rather talk of Celtic’s arrogance or bleating?? They are as complicit in all this as flemming or mclean imo, not 1 of them fit for purpose.

    Can anyone tell me of an occasion when any football club in the world, Celtic apart of course, has proven that their national association deliberately disadvantaged them for the benefit of their major rivals and the head of said association has been forced to resign??

    And they wonder why we’re paranoid?

    Not enough by half if u ask me 🙂


  • 24 April, 2015 at 5:11 am

    The more I read the more sinister it looks!

  • 24 April, 2015 at 8:29 am

    You’ve as much chance of getting answers/cooperation from the SMSM as we have of getting the truth from the SFA.

  • 24 April, 2015 at 10:01 am

    Great article James, 100% on all counts.

    The only thing missing, and I think it’s important, is that you make no reference to the blatant fraternal handshake between McLean and Muir prior to kick off.
    Is it compulsory that the officials are members of the brotherhood? Who are there loyalties with when officiating, the ludge or the SFA?
    Short of wearing an apron and rolling up their trouser leg, the officials could not have been more blatant.
    McLean I believe is in the Busby lodge, I’m sure someone will know where Muir does his secret business.
    Can’t wait to see who the lucky ref will be for next Friday’s home game. If he’s outed beforehand then we can look forward to an entire 90 minutes chanting of ‘WHOSE THE MASON IN THE BLACK’.

  • 24 April, 2015 at 10:54 am

    Well said James,one thing though,you said ‘If we’re right, all we can ask is that you join us in demanding reform.,’ now here’s te point,if the did reform it’s game over for them

  • 24 April, 2015 at 11:00 am

    Wow fantastic again James nothing beats honesty,does Brother Ogilvie,Reagen and Doncaster,and you might as well throw in Fleming(I no him from another life,none of it good)have to be dragged out of the 6th floor in chains for Scottish football to wash its hands and move on. HH

  • 24 April, 2015 at 11:09 am

    No chance of the media exposing their brothers at the SFA/SPFL………..snitching on your mates is a definite no no in the ludge.

  • 24 April, 2015 at 11:16 am

    No place to hide for the MSM now James, as you’ve pretty much done their job for them.
    All they have to do is ask the questions.
    Will they ? Probably not.
    If it involved Sevco they’d be beating down the door
    to get at them.
    Plus ca change etc.

  • 24 April, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    Super as always James, your sentence above sums it all up however “Josh Meekings was to be the scapegoat for God knows what, to protect God knows who”. Nutshell.

    What a shower of crooks.

  • 24 April, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    James maybe a call to a certain Mr A . Thompson at channel 4 would be a start.

  • 24 April, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    James, I’m old enough to remember a time when the only people who would have seen this incident would have been the people actually in the stadium. TV cameras, if present, had limited camera angles and TV coverage only consisted of highlights. You can be sure the “Brothers” controlling TV would never have allowed this to be one of them. Their counterparts controlling the Press would make sure, if it was mentioned at all, it would be very briefly and it would be ref friendly. It was easy for a small group to control the narrative. We could complain by letter to the Editor which would never be printed, but that was about it. Incident swiftly and effectively swept under the rug. Ref treated in his Ludge to drinks on the house for once again putting Timmy in his place. “Trebles, aye that’ll be right! Who do they think they are, …Rangers? Ha, ha, ha. Oh my aching sides!”Fast forward to the present day. We have live TV coverage, multiple camera angles, and the internet where the incident can be seen live by literally millions worldwide. it can be repeated on video links, discussed endlessly on twitter and blogs such as this. They have lost control of the narrative and they don’t like it. Guess what? The good guys are winning. So keep up the good fight, by all means, but let’s take it one stage further.

    Go along with their pathetic excuses, take them at their word. (I Know, I know, but bear with me for a minute.). “Can’t expect the ref to see what happens every time, human error, it all evens out in the end, blah, blah, blah.” OK then lets take the human error out of it and introduce video technology into the equation. This is needed anyway, its going to happen at some stage, even the Luddites who run football will have to give in eventually, so why not be at the forefront of change.

    This is the perfect time for Celtic to lead and to be seen to be leading in this regard. We more than any Club should welcome it’s introduction and we have the most to gain. There will be resistance of course and in Scotland it will be fierce. As the Brotherhood see more of their power slip away they will close ranks. One argument will be that it slows the game down. So limit it to incidents which are game changing, namely penalties and red cards. On Sunday we would have had a ‘two- for’ in that regard. Make the MIB go take a look at what millions are seeing around the world, then dare him to call it otherwise. Put them on the defensive and watch them squirm. Get rid of the 19th century technology, namely eyesight, in Scotland case – very biased eyesight, in favor of 21st century technology. We all know it’s time and pushing a positive agenda like this, will be much more effective than pleading for justice which will never come. We’ve tried that for more than a century, it’s fallen on deaf ears, it hasn’t worked…..time to move on.

  • 24 April, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    I don’t see how Muir saying he saw it hitting Meekings head equates with him seeing the incident.

    The indecent in question was a handball. If he says he saw something different then he clearly hasn’t seen the incident.

  • 24 April, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    Corrupt handshakers the lot of them. Good read James but you are wasting your energy asking the hacks to ask questions – no chance !

  • 25 April, 2015 at 9:49 am

    Only problem with that article James is that you have included Durham and Spiers in the Journalist genre WTF.

  • 25 April, 2015 at 7:21 pm

    Why has the compliance officer not cited McLean and Muir for being incompetent?

    Did the SFA arrange eye tests for all the officials on duty as a matter of urgency on Monday morning……if so what were the results.

    The CO should also be citing McLean and Muir for bringing the games into disrepute with their brazen brotherhood fraternal greeting pre kick off on Sunday

  • 26 April, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    UEFA could do worse than have a look at the SFA recruitment policy at every level.
    Is it mandatory to be a freemason eg. to be fast tracked as a match official?
    Is the % of Catholics employed reflective of the population as a whole?
    Ditto, the number of women employed?
    Ditto, the number of black people employed?

    From what I’ve been told by a former employee any 3rd party investigation is likely to make a number of findings, none of which will reflect well on our shambolic ruling body.

  • 27 April, 2015 at 12:33 am

    On the basis that we all know someone who knows someone etc, why can’t a list of the Hampden brotherhood be compiled and published for all to see.
    It would appear that the SFA/SPFL is riddled from top to bottom with masonic brothers none of whom have any affection for our club, or any other club for that matter apart from the Govan lot.
    There is probably a bigger story here wrt to employment policy in both organisations.
    How many Catholics are employed, does that reflect the population at large?

    Ditto the number of women employed.

    Ditto the number of non white employees……..can’t remember ever seeing a black referee or linesman strangely enough.

    When we have officials openly greeting each other with the grip it’s time to ask the questions……..a secret society operating within another secret society, is anyone surprised?

  • 28 April, 2015 at 9:33 am

    Don’t see any update to the SFA latest referee appointments for this weekends matches.
    On confirmation of the officials for the Dundee game on Friday night I will be asking the SFA to confirm or not, I know, I know, whether all or some of those officiating are members of the Masonic Lodge, or any other lodge.
    I think this is only fair because I don’t want to spend 90 minutes chanting ‘WHOSE THE MASON IN THE BLACK’ if said official is not part of the secret brotherhood, that would be grossly unfair.
    If, as usual, no reply is forthcoming from The Ministry Of Funny Handshakes I will presume the answer to be yes…….but whisper it cos it’s a secret.

  • 30 April, 2015 at 9:36 am

    Day 11 and as far as we know Celtic have hade no reply from the SFA regarding the letter sent in the wake of the Chuckle Brothers performance at Hampden, a week past Sunday.
    Are they so busy constructing a gallows for Guideti that all other business has been put on hold?

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