Celtic hero John Hartson tears into SFA referees after unbelievable Ibrox call

By Euan Davidson

October 28, 2021

Celtic hero John Hartson has called out SFA referees after a beyond questionable penalty shout at Ibrox last night.

Fashion Sakala won a penalty from an incident with David Bates. Honestly, you can try to find enough contact for the Rangers striker to go down for yourself, if you like [SPFL].

It was a ludicrous call from John Beaton. And John Hartson, himself the victim of some incorrect whistles during his time in Scotland, couldn’t help but laugh at the ridiculousness of it all.

Wales legend Hartson tweeted:

Twice, in vital Old Firm derbies, Hartson was called offside in front of goal, despite very clearly being on. It rankled at the time, and has only grown more egregious with hindsight.

Hartson, of course, wasn’t alone. While partisanship of course plays a part here, Rangers have consistently been given extremely debatable decisions.

Robbie Neilson criticised refs after a “stonewaller” at the weekend just past [Daily Record]. Ryan Porteous’ sending-off for Hibs had Jack Ross scratching his head [Scotsman]. There are plenty more examples, last night being just the latest.

Hibernian 1-3 Celtic | LIVE Reaction

Hibernian 1-3 Celtic | LIVE Reaction

Hartson can find the humour, but it is frustrating. If it were just the decisions against Celtic, it could read as paranoid or fantastical. But a growing number of managers are concerned by decisions being made against them when they play Rangers.

Celtic favourite John Hartson hardly alone in assessment of SFA referees

Again, looking at the incident last night, it’s hard to know what the referee saw there.

Bates is just standing near him, with his hands by his sides. Sakala tugs on Bates’ shirt, and then goes down. It’s not like John Beaton didn’t have a good angle, either.

Again, complaining about SFA referees can sometimes seem a waste of time. But it calls to mind comments made by Chris Sutton about VAR. Sutton argued that it wouldn’t work, because SFA referees just don’t have the competence to use it effectively.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Celtic did their job last night. In fact, there’s a separate argument to make about referees from our own game last night.

But with Rangers two points ahead in the table, we could have been looking at a different Scottish Premiership this morning if John Beaton had made the correct decision.

Yet again, there’ll be a debate about the competence of SFA referees. John Hartson has had his say. But will anything actually happen?

It seems doubtful, somehow.

Read more: “Celtic are coming”; Fear emanates from Ibrox as Bhoys build momentum