CELTIC have had two players dismissed in domestic competition this season – Joe Hart against Livingston in September and Yang Hyun-jun against Hearts earlier this month.

John Beaton was involved in both contentious decisions.

Hart, capped 75 times by England, experienced a red card being flashed under his snoot for the first time in a distinguished career of two decades when the trigger-happy SFA official arrived on the scene just before the half-hour mark in West Lothian.

The much-decorated custodian’s blemish-free record went up in smoke as Beaton waved the dreaded scarlet-coloured piece of cardboard and pointed to the tunnel.

DOUBLE-TAKE…the boot of Livingston striker Mo Sangare is clearly in studs-up motion as Joe Hart races from his goal. After the inevitable collision between the players, John Beaton red-carded the Celtic keeper. The opponent went unpunished. 

Hart’s offence appeared to be getting in the way of a wayward challenge from Livi striker Mo Sangare. Images back up that assertion. The home player’s foot is up with studs showing as Hart races to clear a through ball. No argument; that’s dangerous play and an automatic dismissal for the attacker.

As Beaton produced the red card with indecent haste, his assistant on the touchline kept his flag by his side. VAR controller Steven McLean’s job was the scrutinise the coming-together on the multi screens in Glasgow. Surely the use of slow motion and a variety of angles would highlight the injustice?

Nope. Off went Hart and, thankfully, Celtic, with over an hour to play on the treacherous pitch of the hosts, added two more goals to triumph 3-0.

That takes us to Tynecastle on March 3. Beaton was at the controls in Clydesdale House with Don Robertson the man with the silver whistle.

What can we say about the ludicrous 14th-minute banishment of Yang Hyun-jun that hasn’t already been emphasised? The onfield referee booked the South Korean for a high boot after he was involved with Hearts left-back Alex Cochrane on the touchline.

It was clear the Hoops winger’s intention was to attempt to flick the ball over the head of the defender and take advantage of space behind him on the flank.

It seemed harsh enough that Robertson deemed an obvious accident as worthy of a yellow, but it reached preposterous levels when beady-eyed Beaton, mastermind at the multi-screens, detected something that had been missed by everyone else.

SEEING RED…Yang Hyun-jun looks bewildered as he is banished by referee Don Robertson at Tynecastle.

He instructed his colleague to view the incident again on his monitor and the entire moment descended into farce when Robertson scrapped the yellow and produced the red. How he was talked into that decision, we will probably never know.

Unless Celtic can produce evidence from the audio tape of the touchline decision at today’s meeting at Hampden, it will remain one of soccer’s little mysteries.

Beaton wasn’t finished with his irritating interventions, though. He interrupted again when he told his onfield colleague to have a look again at a moment in the Celtic penalty area when the ball brushed the arm of Tomoki Iwata.

No-one – absolutely no-one, including seven Hearts players in close proximity – called for a penalty-kick. Off trotted the dutiful Robertson to view the phantom incident and once more he returned to the field of play to reinforce the thoughts of his VAR assistant.

A nonsensical spot-kick was awarded, the hosts scored and we all know what happened next.

The situation could not have become any more farcical if Brendan Rodgers had sent on the Marx Brothers in a multi-subbing exercise at the interval.

It may be worth pointing out that the champions had three players ordered off last season; David Turnbull against St Johnstone, Daizen Maeda versus Hibs and Callum McGregor when Motherwell provided the opposition.

The man who flashed the red card at the club captain was none other than John Beaton. McGregor was involved in a tumble with Ross Tierney and it was unclear if he was punished from preventing the Well player a clear goalscoring opportunity.

The opponent was about 10 yards outside the box at the time and Stephen Welsh was racing across to provide cover.

However, there was not a heartbeat of hesitation from the referee who was quick on the draw once more to produce the red card and it was game over for McGregor. Celtic held on for a 2-1 win.

SEEING RED…John Beaton sends off Callum McGregor against Motherwell last season.

Naturally, Beaton was a name already known to the champions and their fans. He took the limelight back in December 2018 at Ibrox when Rodgers suffered his first defeat in a derby at the thirteenth hurdle.

That was the afternoon where Scott Brown deflected a shot from Ryan Jack past the helpless Craig Gordon for the only goal of the encounter.

Only three minutes had gone when the unfortunate team leader received a kick in a sensitive area from Alfredo Morelos. Beaton, only yards from the incident, awarded the visitors a free-kick, but didn’t think the foul merited a word in the ear of the Colombian, known to be a volatile little fellow on occasion.

Similarly, the chunky frontman escaped after grabbing at Ryan Christie in an area where such things may be permissible in certain bars in San Francisco (so I have read) but is frowned upon in other parts of the universe.

Morelos also utilised the prone Anthony Ralston as a trampoline later in the game, but once more a potentially-explosive moment entered into history without even a finger-wagging for the hosts’ temperamental forward.

Maybe there is something in the air in Govan. Beaton was in charge in January last year when Connor Goldson decided to display his impressive basketball talents by expertly pushing away a close-range shot from Carl Starfelt.

Penalty-kick? No chance. Nothing to see here, move along, please. As the ball spun in the general direction of Paisley Road West via the upflung hand of the home central defender, Beaton took no notice and, unsurprisingly to the visitors, the game continued without interruption.

YOU NEED HANDS…Connor Goldson pushes away a shot from Carl Starfelt, but, remarkably, escapes without punishment.

Maybe it’s all coincidence, of course, but there have been several other moments where Beaton has been at the centre of bewildering and perplexing decisions where Celtic have been involved.

The list is fairly lengthy and I won’t bother to go into minute detail as you may have something else planned for the rest of the day plus you will probably wish to get to bed at a decent time.

Before that, though, the Celtic manager will be on the sixth floor at Hampden this afternoon after being cited for comments in the aftermath of the capers in the capital with the performances of Beaton and Robertson in vogue.

The word “incompetence” came into play to send the Scottish soccer sultans into a state of apoplexy as they searched for the well-thumbed rule book.

Rule No72 Article 96.1 states: “No recognised football body, club, official, team official under the jurisdiction of the Scottish FA, shall in an interview or in any other manner calculated or likely to lead to publicity (i) criticise the decision(s) and/or performance(s) of any or all match official(s) in such a way as to indicate bias or incompetence on the part of such match official.”

So much for free speech, my friends. Rodgers, if found guilty, will be banned from the touchline for Sunday’s visit to Livingston and Ibrox the following week.

Back to Beaton. The correct term for recurring coincidences is “synchronicity.” It is used to describe meaningful coincidences that cannot be explained by cause and effect.

Anyone know the word for recurring nightmare?


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