John Beaton will not decide Saturday's Celtic v Rangers clash
It seems that referees are now convicted without trial in the febrile world of football Glasgow-style.
The furore in Celtic circles this week to the appointment of John Beaton as the final arbiter for Saturday’s derby has been an unedifying spectacle.
Of course, the genesis of the griping relates to Beaton’s only previous officiating of the fixture. Yet, it has now been lost since Rangers’ 1-0 victory at Ibrox in December 2018 that in the immediate aftermath Beaton was commended for his handling. No-one in the stadium that afternoon spotted the antics of Alfredo Morelos.
The Columbian’s three red-cards worth of kicking, grabbling and stamping in tussling with Anthony Ralston, Ryan Christie and Scott Brown was sneaky enough to be missed in real time. Beaton, though, was let down both by his assistants and the subsequent disciplinary whitewash.
Beaton should be allowed to prepare for, what is sure to be, a testing afternoon without aspersions being cast. Former Celtic striker Frank McAvennie felt unable to afford him this right with his latest pronouncements to the Football Insider website.
“I fear for the referee on Saturday,” he said. “He is not well liked by the Celtic side of Glasgow. I hope I am wrong, I really do. I hope he stands up because he is a good referee but in the past he has been known to make a couple of gaffes when it comes to Celtic. I am hoping they were just mistakes. Put it this way, I really hope next week we are not talking about the referee’s performance. I hope it is about football.”
The reality is that this tends to be the case. For all the excitable chatter that surrounds them, confrontations between Celtic and Rangers are rarely decided by referees. And Celtic’s record in the 35 matches since 2012 in which they have had Beaton in the middle gives no credence to this referee being a malign influence for them.
That is because Celtic have lost only two of these games. Indeed, it passed without comment last month that Beaton was refereeing as the Scottish champions overcame St Mirren. They should have won more comfortably than the final scoreline of 2-1. However, they failed to put themselves on easy street. Why? Because they did not convert a penalty Beaton awarded them.
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