The news today that it is to be John Beaton who takes Sunday’s match comes as no surprise to Celtic fans whatsoever. The general feeling is not shock but a numbed acceptance that this is what we tolerate. This is what our club has allowed.
I know people inside Celtic will be unhappy with this decision.
Of course they are. But what have we actually done, short of write a wee letter to the SFA, to prevent it? We can’t tell them what to give their referees, and so we’re stuck with this guy taking big games like this one whether we like it or not.
But there are measures which would prevent it.
Beaton is an Ibrox fan. I don’t think there’s the slightest doubt about that, not since he was photographed in an Ibrox bar after a particularly controversial game involving the two clubs. The SFA does not force its referees to declare that stuff, although every other major league in Europe does so as a matter of course.
What exactly is Scottish football’s problem with doing it?
Would we be shocked at how many referees are ruled out for big games? I assure you, most of us will not be even slightly surprised far less shocked. The argument for bringing in refs from abroad for certain fixtures is, and has always been, a compelling one.
As this site has already suggested, the end of this season should see Celtic step forward with the first proposals to reform refereeing. Declarations of allegiances is an obvious first step, and one that should have been taken many years ago.
There are some in the media who would have you believe that all the focus on this is daft, that it’s a minor matter. Actually, that just about every other league in the game requires refs to declare their allegiances makes it clear that Scotland’s outlook is aberrant and indefensible. It is not only grossly out of step but also wide open to abuse.
If it’s such a minor manner, let’s have done with it.
Let’s implement the same rules as exist elsewhere.
If it’s such a small thing, then why is the resistance to it so fierce?
In no other football authority would John Beaton be anywhere near this fixture, unless it was sitting in the stand as a guest of the away team. If he put it on the record, then that would be his own business and nobody else’s as he wouldn’t be allowed to officiate their games.
As it stands, his taking centre stage is an outrage and an insult to our club.
But our club has invited it because we haven’t done nearly enough to prevent it.