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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