By George Overhill

18th Sep, 2023 | 5:10pm

Ex-referee 'really irked' by Rangers vs Celtic controversy, issues verdict on penalty vs Dundee this week

The decision to award David Turnbull a penalty for Celtic against Dundee was “not the same” as the one that ruled out Kemar Roofe’s goal for Rangers in the derby, according to Steve Conroy.

The former referee told the Daily Record (18 September) that he disagreed with the decision to disallow the Gers strike at Ibrox for a foul by Cyriel Dessers on Gustaf Lagerbielke on 3 September and it “really irked” him that VAR had got involved to overrule a “perfectly legitimate opinion” of the referee.

But he maintained that the VAR review at Parkhead this weekend [Sky Sports] reached the correct conclusion because Turnbull’s foot was “firmly planted” and Ryan Howley “took it upon himself to wallop” it, although he conceded it was a “matter of opinion” which other ex-officials he knows felt differently about.

Conroy said: “I’ve seen the comments from Rangers fans are asking what the difference is and they are very similar, but not the same.

“I didn’t think Kemar Roofe’s goal should have been disallowed in the Rangers vs Celtic game. I didn’t see a foul and I said that at the time and it shouldn’t have been overturned and VAR shouldn’t have been involved because it was a matter of opinion.

“But there are no issues with the Celtic penalty award – I think think that was a penalty. I’m in a WhatsApp group chat with a few other ex referees and opinions were divided which again makes it a matter of opinion…

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

“The difference, for me, between that and the Cyriel Dessers incident is that nobody was fixed in position, nobody was in possession of the ball. Both of them were making play and robustly and fairly trying to win the ball, which was there to be won. There was a collision but it’s a contact sport and you’re going to have contact.

“But it was legit although VAR getting involved in the Old Firm game was what really irked me because it’s there to correct a clear and obvious error – not to impose their opinion on the perfectly legitimate opinion of the referee’s.”

Celtic won 1-0 at Ibrox before the international break after Roofe’s strike was ruled out, and the penalty broke Dundee’s resistance on Saturday (16 September), after a goalless first half, on the way to a 3-0 victory.


The unavoidable element of refereeing in football is that no matter how much technology is involved there will always be judgement calls that have to be made by a person.

Different people will make different decisions, but it won’t come as any comfort to outraged Rangers supporters, or indeed Michael Beale, that Celtic got the benefit of the doubt when on opposite sides of a similar situation in two games running.

Had the Light Blues taken their lead in the Old Firm derby and managed to secure a crucial win then the entire international break would have felt far more positive and the manager wouldn’t have been facing questions about his job.

And Roofe must be pretty sick of tight calls as well as he had another goal ruled out by VAR, this time for offside, in the 2-0 win at St Johnstone on Saturday.

Rangers are nowhere near firing on all cylinders right now, and there are rightly plenty of questions being asked about the direction of the new-look side.

But there are times that difficult periods need some luck to help navigate through and it feels like that isn’t arriving for Beale and the Gers right now.

Danilo repaying the manager for a start at the weekend by scoring a brave goal, only to suffer a compound fracture to his face in the process [Daily Record, 16 September] is the latest case in point, and everyone at the club will hope that fortunes change quickly.

In other Rangers news, Beale was accused of doing “absolutely nothing” in football to get the Ibrox job and another pundit suggests his “days are numbered” before he is sacked.