Pressley puts forward bizarre Celtic theory; says lack of fans have influenced penalties

By David Walton

December 2, 2020

Regular BBC Sportsound pundit Steven Pressley has bizarrely claimed that a lack of fans in stadiums has perhaps led to Celtic conceding more penalties this season.

So far this term, the Hoops have conceded seven spot-kicks – two of which have been saved by Scott Bain. However, over the course of last term, we had actually only lost three as our defence stood tall against many different challenges.

This season we’ve seen some dreadfully clumsy challenges in our own box that have been stonewallers. Callum McGregor on Connor McLennan, Scott Brown on Kevin Nisbet, and Chris Jullien on Nicke Kabamba instantly come to mind. There will be others.

And Pressley has bemusingly put forward a theory that this could be down to the fact Celtic are playing in front of no supporters at present.

As quoted by the Herald, the former Hoops centre-back said: “As a manager, you hope that the board have a broad view of what you are dealing with. Sometimes in football people only think about the here and now, and not what a manager has had to deal with.

“But a significant factor that has affected Celtic is the lack of support in the grounds. The statistics show that there have been more away victories this season than ever before.

“Celtic have also conceded seven penalty kicks this season. Last season they only conceded three. You could argue that is because of the influence of the support.”

Penalties are down to clumsiness and nothing more

To be honest, you would think it would be the opposite. Surely having fans in the ground to motivate you would ensure that you’re actually more inclined to go in for tackles than would normally be the case?

Regardless, it’s just difficult to back Pressley’s argument when you see some of the decisions that have come our way this season. It’s difficult to remember a decision against us that wasn’t a stonewaller. Shane Duffy in Lille? Ajer vs Ross County? Easy decisions.

And this matters because Pressley is surely referring to the referee’s reaction to potential spot-kicks. Had there been big crowds then perhaps refs could’ve been put off from giving away certain decisions at Celtic Park for example. With nobody in the stadium, they perhaps feel safer to award them.

Lewis Ferguson scores a penalty for Aberdeen against Celtic (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

But that would only be the case if we were giving away soft spot-kicks. That isn’t the case. We’ve been terribly clumsy at the back and needlessly barging opposition strikers over or putting in late challenges that will always see forwards go to ground over. It’s just poor defending.

If we want to try and find out why Celtic have been so reckless with their challenges in their own penalty area this season, then that’s a question for the manager. Because it almost certainly isn’t down to supporters not being there – that’s an excuse that’s starting to get used for everything.

But irrespective of what’s actually causing these penalties, we need to snap out of it to save our season.

In other news, the new Brexit rules could have a major effect on a successful Celtic model.