Hartson delivers damning verdict on refereeing storm

John Hartson believes that the standard of refereeing is worse than it was when he was at his peak during the Martin O’Neill days.

The former Celtic boss had some epic run-ins with match officials during five eventful years in charge that yielded three SPL titles with the other two lost by one point and on goal difference.

While O’Neill would often explode on the touchline or in post match media conferences his fellow Irishman, Brendan Rodgers, rarely speaks out against refereeing decisions.

On Sunday at St. Johnstone, Celtic could have been given three penalties but unlike the previous day at Ibrox when Andrew Dallas awarded four spot kicks, Willie Collum ignored all of Celtic’s claims.

In his Evening Times column Hartson stated:

“From my own time, and I’ve spoken about this a million times which I don’t like doing, I had a perfectly good goal chopped off in the 2003 League Cup final which leaves you seething. It really does. It’s infuriating. And over the years I think Celtic have had a strong case to suggest that any grievances have been justifiable.

“But from [my] own point of view as a player and during my time at Celtic I never thought anything other than that I wanted to go out and win a game. I didn’t think referees were more in favour of Rangers than us but I did think at times that they made mistakes.

“But I think the errors are worse now. The mistakes that have been made this weekend are always going to cause a furore. You see some decisions and you just think ‘wow’. How on earth did you come to that one?”

On Wednesday night attention will be on Craig Thomson in the Hibernian clash while Bobby Madden will be in charge of the Aberdeen v Rangers match, which usually brings it’s own supply of fireworks.

The resumption of the Premiership after the winter break has been marked by a fresh outbreak of refereeing controversies with Steve Clarke and Steven Gerrard drawn into a war of words ahead of Saturday’s Scottish Cup tie between their two clubs.