JOHN HARTSON reckons ropey referee Don Robertson should be BANNED for Celtic’s Scottish Cup semi-final encounter against Sevco Rangers at Hampden on Sunday.
The blundering match official was in the spotlight during the Hoops’ 2-2 draw with Ross County at the weekend when he awarded a nonsensical penalty-kick after being conned by Dutch cheat Alex Schalk.
Liam Boyce scored with the late gift to steal a point for the Highlanders.
Robertson is due to take up a position behind one of the goals in the Cup-tie as part of the SFA six-man squad to control the last-four confrontation.
Hartson said: “I think there’s too much pressure for him. I don’t know why he would want to do that.
“It’s a very delicate situation. He’s obviously feeling very embarrassed if he’s a realist and he’s honest.
“I would just say: ‘Look, leave me out of that one’ if I was the referee or the assistant.
“Take yourself out of the fray. Put somebody else in. Why aren’t the referees protecting him? Why stick him into that big game?
“Take him out, let him go for lunch with his family on Sunday afternoon, give the guy a break.”
Hartson remembers being on the receiving end of a a few dodgy decisions, one wrong call from the ref coming when he had a perfectly good goal against the Ibrox side ruled out in the 2003 League Cup Final.
That decision is one of many that have fuelled a long-standing suspicion within the ranks of the Hoops support who feel they have traditionally been dealt with very harshly over the many years of crucial encounters.
The former striker said: “All these conspiracy theories – I’ll leave that to the fans to decide.
“I’ve had two bad ones. I could go on all day, actually. There was a League Cup Final against Rangers (sic) when I had a goal chalked off that was two yards onside.
“I wouldn’t like to ref the game. Refereeing is the hardest thing to do because you’ve got a split second.
“The boys on the television, sometimes we sit and watch it 50 times and still can’t decide.
“Willie Collum is an experienced referee – he has done big games before. Whoever does it is in the firing line.
“Craig Thomson has made some big decisions in the past which have been ludicrous.
“You saw Brendan on Sunday – one of the coolest men on the planet – absolutely infuriated by that decision.
“That’s what football does to you when you are passionate about it.”