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Clark backs Thomson penalty U-turn in Old Firm final

Rangers and Celtic players with referee Craig Thomson
Jelavic (far left) thought he had been awarded a penalty but was then booked for simulation

Retired referee Kenny Clark has praised Craig Thomson for rescinding a penalty award in the Scottish League Cup final.

Thomson pointed to the spot after Celtic's Thomas Rogne tackled Rangers' Nikica Jelavic but recanted the award.

And Rangers manager Walter Smith, whose side won the match, described Thomson's actions as dangerous.

"What's dangerous about someone recognising that they have made an error and saying, 'I want to correct it?'," Clark told BBC Scotland.

"I think he should be praised for it, not criticised for it. I don't see what's dangerous about it.

"Like everyone else, at first viewing I thought it was a penalty. I realised very quickly that Craig had changed his mind and it seemed to me that he changed his mind almost instantaneously as sometimes happen with referees; you blow your whistle and then you think, 'now wait a minute that's wrong'.

"They said in the TV commentary that they thought there had been intervention from the other officials. I'm absolutely satisfied that wasn't the case. I don't think they were in a position to do that and it all happened too quickly for it to be that.

I don't know why he changed his mind. I would prefer to talk about winning rather than referees but I thought that was a very strange one

Rangers manager Walter Smith

"It's a measure of his bravery and his self-confidence that he was prepared to do that and prepared to say, 'I called that wrong but I know that the most important thing is the correct decision is ultimately given, even if I do look a bit silly as a result of that'."

The incident took place when the score was poised at 1-1 and, after withdrawing the spot-kick award, Thomson booked Jelavic for simulation.

"It's dangerous for a referee to do that, very dangerous," said Smith. "If it had been in the other penalty box, I don't know.

"I just felt a wee bit aggrieved that Jelavic got booked because he gave a penalty and then he booked Jelavic.

"He must have thought himself there was something in the decision to give it in the first place."

Scottish League Cup highlights - Celtic 1-2 Rangers

League Cup Highlights - Celtic 1-2 Rangers

There were two other penalty claims denied during regulation time, Mark Wilson going down in the Rangers box after being closed down before the same player survived calls from the Ibrox side's players that he had used an arm in his own box.

In the end, Rangers won the match 2-1 after extra-time to retain the Co-operative Insurance Cup, Jelavic grabbing the winner.

"It [the Jelavic penalty incident] was strange, especially when there was a similar incident at the other end of the pitch," added Smith.

"I don't know why he changed his mind. He told the players he changed his mind. There was a handball in the second half of the game.

"I would prefer to talk about winning rather than referees but I thought that was a very strange one.

"I said before when Celtic were mounting their campaign at the start of the season that if your team is good enough they will win.

In some ways that might have been perceived as looking weak on the part of the referee. I take the contrary view, I think it shows a considerable amount of strength

Retired referee Kenny Clark

"Regardless of a refereeing decision in today's game, we have come out of it as good enough to win the game. That's how I have always approached it and that's as it should be but it doesn't stop us complaining if there is something wrong."

Clark feels Thomson's call demonstrates how attitudes over contentious decisions have changed.

"Match officials have been encouraged to get decisions right one way or another - in other words, by consulting with assistants," added the former match official.

"Basically, the most important thing is that at the end of the game the big decisions have been called properly.

"At one time it would've been very much frowned upon for someone to change their mind about such a big decision because in some ways that might have been perceived as looking weak on the part of the referee. I take the contrary view, I think it shows a considerable amount of strength."

Rangers captain David Weir said he and his team-mates had thought they should have received a penalty.

"He did give the penalty and he booked Thomas Rogne for the challenge and then he decided that he had seen it wrong and he reversed it and booked Nikica for a dive," he told BBC Scotland.

"He thought he had got the decision right in the end and that's his prerogative."



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see also
Celtic 1-2 Rangers (aet)
20 Mar 11 |  Scottish Cups
Rangers score joyous for Smith
20 Mar 11 |  Rangers
Rangers 'proved doubters wrong'
20 Mar 11 |  Rangers
Mjallby credits Celtic endeavour
20 Mar 11 |  Celtic


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