Ex-referee Stuart Dougal urges Scottish football fans to ‘change your mindset’ after Celtic penalty incident

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Dermot Gallagher reckons the decision to award a spot-kick was “very harsh“ but Dougal has told managers to get used to it.

Stuart Dougal believes Scottish football has to “change its mindset” when facing handball penalty incidents after referee Willie Collum’s decision to award Celtic a spot-kick against Ross County on Sunday.

The experienced official was urged by VAR operator Steven Kirkland to look at the pitchside monitor after Cameron Carter-Vickers appeared to head the ball against the outstretched arm of Staggies defender Alex Iacovitti as he attacked the ball from a cross in the closing stages of the first-half in Dingwall.

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Collum eventually pointed to the spot - a decision which left County boss Malky Mackay seething - with Iacovitti himself left furious by the call and Jota slotted home to give the Hoops a half-time lead. Alexandro Bernabei rifled home his first goal for the champions five minutes into added time at the end of the second half to maintain Celtic’s nine-point at the Premiership summit.

Jota puts Celtic in front from the penalty spot against Ross County.Jota puts Celtic in front from the penalty spot against Ross County.
Jota puts Celtic in front from the penalty spot against Ross County.

Appearing on BBC Scotland’s The VARdict, Dougal reckons there shouldn’t be any argument against the awarding of the penalty and warned managers they must accept that the current handball rule means these incidents will always result in a spot-kick.

He stated: “Not in my eyes and you have to look at angles. It’s very difficult for the match referee there. He’’s blocked and can’t see that. The assistant referee equally and by the laws of the game, that’s a clear handball.

“For anybody that doesn’t think that’s a clear handball, you need to change your mindset because this will be given week in, week out while we have VAR. I’m sorry to say that when I watched it in real time, I thought: ‘Ooh, there’s something worth looking at there again’.

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“Maybe that’s me referee eye, but it didn’t surprise me that the referee was asked to go and have a look at that again. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind that there was only going to be one outcome, and that was a penalty. The way I ten to look at it is, if it happened up in the other penalty area, Malky Mackay would be looking for a penalty, I’m absolutely certain about that.

“Under the current interpretation of the laws of the game, he would be absolutely right to be looking for a penalty. It’s a sore one just on half-time. Ross County have held out and the penalty decision goes against them. We can understand that, but I’ll say it again, the mindset has to change.

Ross County defender Alex Iacovitti was penalised for handballRoss County defender Alex Iacovitti was penalised for handball
Ross County defender Alex Iacovitti was penalised for handball

“It’s incumbent upon anybody involved in football, not to be criticising referees when they’re giving the right decisions, not to be criticising VAR when they’re stepping in to help match officials get the right decisions. I also think if the mindset changed, we’d welcome or embrace VAR more and take the positives out of it, not the mistakes it’s making.”

Former English Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher was in agreement as he analysed the incident on Sky Sports’ Ref Watch segment this morning. He claims the change in rules is not unanimously liked by match officials despite several pundits supporting the technology’s intervention.

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Gallagher said: “Its’ very harsh, I don’t know what the player can do. Unfortunately, as the law is written now, arm outstretched like that, which it clearly is, shoulder height, which it clearly is, sent to the monitor there is only going to be one outcome. It doesn’t sit well with supporters, referees don’t particularly like it, but, unfortunately, you don’t have to like the law you have to apply it.”

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