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John Beaton on the Rangers Celtic fallout after THAT Alfredo Morelos controversy

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John Beaton admits the scrutiny from controversial decisions during a clash between Rangers and Celtic in December 2018 was difficult to deal with.

The whistler decided against showing Alfredo Morelos a red card after incidents involving Scott Brown, Ryan Christie and Anthony Ralston.

The Colombian wasn't suspended after the SFA compliance officer looked at the incidents but Beaton still came under fire and received abuse from supporters.

Personal information was leaked online and Beaton had to call in the police but he revealed that coming through that difficult period has helped him.

Speaking during mental health week, Beaton has revealed the impact it can have on referees when they receive aggressive feedback and admits he felt forced to plough on through the issues to set an example to younger officials.

He refereed a game between Ayr United and Falkirk a week later and had been told he could have the week off but decided to continue, although he was given a police escort.

(Image: Daily Record)

And he said: "It was a tough time for me and had a massive impact. It was probably a turning point in terms of seeing the scrutiny that we are put under in games like that.

"The pressure on those games is incredible and it’s such a unique rivalry. It’s about survival for the referees, players and managers. You have to manage your way through those games as best as possible.

"The feeling immediately after the match was that it had gone well for us a refereeing team. But clearly the media fallout was such that the perception of my performance had very quickly changed.

"I was due to referee Ayr United v Falkirk at the height of the difficult period and I remember speaking to John Fleming, the Head of Refereeing at the time, who said I could have the weekend off.

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"I said no to that offer as I felt it was really important for the younger guys coming through that they saw me fulfilling that appointment. It was important to do the game and show I wasn’t going to lie down to the criticism.

"I don’t remember anything about the game at Somerset Park, it was just about getting through the 90 minutes. I was glad I did it.

"It was a while before I was back involved with either of the teams, but I took charge of the Aberdeen vs Celtic match in April 2019, that saw Celtic clinch the league title. That was a real show of faith from the Scottish FA and a boost for me personally to be appointed to the match and to do well in it.

"Before that period in my career, there had been a real separation between my private life and being a referee. All of a sudden, I had a situation where they merged into one. That will never go away now, but like everything in football, things move on and I’ve refereed both Celtic and Rangers multiple times since with no issues."

Beaton has been a category 1 referee since 2009 and is viewed as one of Scotland's top officials.

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He's refereed on the European stage as well as in internationals and he admits he expected boos when he signed up to be a whistler, but he's learned how to deal with it by compartmentalising.

He said: "The way I see it is that they are not shouting at me as a person, it is just a figure in the middle of the park. I could be wrong about that though. The referee is seen as a person that you can just shout abuse at and we just need to deal with it. To be honest you sign up for that when you become a referee and you expect boos from the crowds at certain times.

"I think it’s important the younger referees see that we have to deal with the mental health side of things and set an example for them coming through. They can come and speak to the more experienced ones. I’ve never not had anyone I could speak to. There’s always someone.

(Image: SNS Group)

"You can get really down about things if you’ve made a mistake on the Saturday and then you’re waiting for Sportscene on the Sunday for people to criticise you. I’ve got better with that though and find ways to cope, usually by getting back on the horse and refereeing other games.

"It’s so easy to focus on the negatives and think ‘poor me, people are shouting at me’ but we get an opportunity to go to some of the best stadiums in the world to referee and it’s a brilliant job. I’ve worked in the Nou Camp, Bernabeu and Allianz Arena in front of thousands of people, made good decisions and they’ve all been brilliant experiences. The dream is that no-one speaks about the referee after the 90 minutes and 9/10 that happens. People just remember you for your mistakes.

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"One of my first high-profile matches was between Kilmarnock v Hibernian in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals, in 2013, and it was my first big game on TV. I think Hibs won 4-2 and Leigh Griffiths scored a hat-trick.

"I had three massive decisions to make and they were all right. It catapulted my career and I still look back on it as it’s nice to remind yourself of the good moments. People focus on your negatives but for me, it’s good to look at the positives."

Find out how you can become a referee:  https://www.scottishfa.co.uk/scottish-fa/referees/become-a-referee/


For more news relating to Celtic, visit our sister site Celtic Live.
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