By George Overhill

30th Mar, 2023 | 6:10pm

Rangers penalty complaints 'bonkers' as media pressured referees for Celtic before VAR - David Tanner

Outrage at Rangers over penalty stats since the introduction of VAR is “bonkers” as Celtic “got away with a lot” prior to October, according to David Tanner.

The Sky Sports and talkSPORT presenter was reacting after ex-Parkhead forward Frank McAvennie had fumed to Football Insider (28 March) about penalties not awarded against the Light Blues, saying the use of technology was a “coward’s way out”.

Celtic fans and pundits were particularly outraged after Connor Goldson was not penalised for a handball in the 2-2 draw at Ibrox on 2 January, and the Gers have yet to have one awarded against them this season.

The Hoops have conceded seven since VAR came into Scottish football in October, but Tanner scoffed at complaints off the back of these statistics.

Reacting to McAvennie’s comments Tanner wrote on his personal Twitter account Wednesday night (29 March): “Celtic had not conceded a penalty before the introduction of VAR but have lost seven since October”.

“Here’s what that ACTUALLY means: Being a big club, Celtic got away with a lot as refs were influenced by crowds & pressure via the media.

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“7 fouls = 7 pens. VAR is a leveller.”

In further comments below the original post he added: “I find it quite bonkers that pen stats are produced as evidence – often of long held beliefs – without the relevant additional data alongside them: how many of the decisions were actually wrong?!”

And in response to accusations of Ibrox bias he said: “What [is] biased about that? The big clubs get a huge advantage with 50 or 60k fans on the refs’ backs.

“And the laugh is, you all think they’re against you! Hard to influence the guys in a VT room 5 miles away. They’ve committed 7 fouls in the box & 7 pens were awarded. That’s ok.”


The fallout from the January Old Firm went on all week despite the rules apparently explaining the decision by John Beaton that day, and there have long been suspicions on the Rangers half of the Old Firm rivalry that pundits from the opposite side mount a joint effort to ramp up pressure on officials.

So the fact that VAR, admittedly far from perfect as it is, has apparently started to undercut that is obviously not going to sit well with some of a Hoops persuasion.

But it’s not as if video technology hasn’t stopped Celtic benefiting from bizarre decisions all the same, with Hibs furious that a charitable red card and penalty award in the Bhoy’s favour affected the result as the visitors came back from a goal down to win 3-1 at Easter Road on 18 March.

The rest of the sides outside the Old Firm no doubt have a laundry list of complaints at decisions that went in favour of both Glasgow clubs.

The VAR system is only as good as the people using it, but if it helps undercut outside influences it should be a positive, even if it will undoubtedly infuriate one side or another on a weekly basis.

Few Rangers fans would dispute they get the benefit of the doubt sometimes, but to suggest that VAR is unfairly working against Celtic to the profit of the Bears hardly stands up.

In other Rangers news, an Ibrox ace is surely going to leave as a club are after him who have the perfect sales pitch.