I suspect I'm not the only person who read Celtic striker Gary Hooper's comments about referees today with a fair degree of incredulity. Hooper said he thinks referees "want" to give decisions against Celtic because they are 'one of the world's big clubs'.
"The referee wants to give a decision against us so he can say something after the game. I think all the big teams get it. Maybe because referees want to give decisions against Celtic, I don't know," he said.
Over the years football fans of clubs outside the Old Firm could write about so many decisions that have gone against their team it would destroy a a fair percentage of a Brazilian rain forest. And many of these decisions have been when their team has been playing Celtic or Rangers. Now, with the greatest respect, I would venture the opinion that the standards of refereeing in Scotland may be at its poorest right now. In years gone by I hurled verbal abuse towards the likes of Hugh Dallas, Willie Young and Brian McGinlay. It's only now, given the standard of present day referees in Scotland, that - and I never thought I would say this - I appreciate Dallas and co. for the qualities they had.
Nevertheless, poor as the current men in black with yellow facings are, I have never felt the need to question their integrity. Okay, I did back in 2003 when Dougie McDonald sent off two Hearts players at Rugby Park. Then Hearts manager Craig Levein said he lost count of the number of mistakes McDonald made at 97; having been present at the game that afternoon I harboured suspicions there were more sinister goings on particularly when a rumour went round that Edinburgh based McDonald had leanings towards Hibernian. Levein was fined for his post match comments but famously took on the SFA and won.
In general Scots referees may be lacking in pace, common sense and tact. However, no one can seriously believe they're biased against the Old Firm. When Celtic signed Gary Hooper they clearly believed his paranoid frame of mind would fit in perfectly at Parkhead.
Celtic play Aberdeen in Glasgow this weekend. Hooper should perhaps try out his theory by ambling into the Aberdeen penalty box and falling over when a visiting defender looks at him the wrong way. When 60,000 Celtic fans then bawl 'penalty, referee!' there's a more than reasonable chance the official will point to the penalty spot.
And make Gary Hooper look even more foolish than he does now.