fbpx Skip to main content

Philippe Clement backed Willie Collum as he revealed he was at odds with Rangers’ stance on the referee following the Old Firm game at the end of last year.

Celtic full-back Alistair Johnston handled the ball inside his own penalty area in the first half of the cinch Premiership encounter at Parkhead under pressure from Gers attacker Abdallah Sima.

A goal-kick was awarded by referee Nick Walsh and the check by VAR official Collum for handball came to nothing. It later emerged through Sky Sports, who were broadcasting the match live, that there had also been an offside in the build-up.

It was widely reported that the Ibrox club had made a request to the Scottish Football Association that Collum be excluded from any involvement in any Rangers match moving forward.

Collum will take charge of Rangers for the first time since that controversial match at Celtic Park when they host Ayr in the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup last-16 tie at Ibrox on Saturday.

The Gers boss said: “I am happy to be honest because when there is one moment that I thought that the referee is not neutral then I would directly quit my job.

“So I am happy that we can leave the past behind us. For me there was a fault made. It was a clear handball.

“But I am also not without fault. I make faults every day probably so I don’t look at people if they make a mistake that they are dead forever or whatever.

“No, this is a new game, a new situation so it is important not to live in the past and that is in life also important, not to live in the past.

“I don’t want my players to be living in the past few weeks or months or beginning of the season or whatever, it is about the next game and it is about performing there.

“And if we make mistakes, like I am doing and the players are doing, you expect to get new chances to prove you have become better.”

The Belgian boss confirmed he had not been involved in discussions about the Collum request made by the club

“That is something for in the club and we have talked about that,” Clement added.

Asked if he expected to be consulted if a similar situation arose, he said: “That will happen in the future, yes.”

Clement was also pragmatic about the failure to have Dujon Sterling’s red card against Aberdeen in midweek overturned.

The Light Blues unsuccessfully appealed his dismissal by referee Don Robertson for his tackle on Jack MacKenzie in the 2-1 home win.

The former Genk, Club Brugge and Monaco boss said: “You don’t want to lose players but you need to accept the decision. This situation was not so clear.

“We have seen other tackles in other games where it was a yellow card.

“But that’s the thing about football. It is never black and white, there is a grey area and it is a difficult job for a referee in that grey area. I think that is also one of the charms of football.

The Honest Men are managed by former Celtic skipper Scott Brown which drew a joke from Clement.

He said: “I read that he loves Rangers and I love all the people that love Rangers.

“So that can be really good between us on the sidelines.”

Defender Ben Davies and midfielder Ryan Jack return to the squad but midfielder Tom Lawrence will be rested.

Defender Leon Balogun returns next week and will wear a mask to protect a facial injury.