Michael Stewart has been put firmly back in his box by, not only a former referee, but UEFA’s Deputy Chief Refereeing Officer, or Hugh Dallas to you and I, after the Sportscene pundit slammed Bobby Madden for awarding Rangers two penalties against Motherwell on Sunday.
The “controversy” centres around the interpretation of the handball law in which phrases like “natural silhouette” and “unnaturally bigger” are common place and The Daily Record has reported the retired whistler’s interview with BBC Sportsound to clarify the decisions.
Stewart, as always, was starting with an agenda – Rangers bad – and working backwards when analysing the penalties that were given at Fir Park, his biggest argument seemed to be that the law was a farce, which is irrelevant when accurately assessing the referee’s performance.
In both incidents there was no appeal or sense of injustice displayed by the Motherwell players, almost as if they know the laws, and despite not having time to react, both players had their arms outstretched or outside the line of their body when the ball hit them – stopping it from continuing on it’s course.
Dallas, speaking about the law, told the BBC:
“I can understand from player and coaches’ point of view they don’t like it.
“No one likes change, whether change is for the better, and normally it should be.
“At the end of the day, the arm was higher than it was when it struck the players hand.
“I think Michael Stewart said (on Sunday night) he tried to get his hand out of the way, and by doing that he stopped the ball from going beyond him.
“According to the law, the body was made unnaturally bigger and it stopped the ball going to an opposition player.
“The decisions at Fir Park are difficult but, according to the laws of the game, the referee called both decisions correctly.”
As usual, rather than accepting that he was wrong, Stewart went on a Twitter rant about the law and sought to deflect attention away from his ignorance of the one thing he should actually know about, the game he is supposed to be an expert in.
Should Stewart be made to apologise to Madden by the BBC?
It wasn’t the first, and it certainly won’t be the last time this season that the Celtic TV pundit can’t see past his own self importance and loathing of all things Rangers when it comes to analysing Steven Gerrard’s side – to openly criticise a ref, who got the decisions correct, is at best negligence on behalf of the BBC, and at worst, a sinister sign of things to come.