Chris Sutton has branded the threats towards under-siege referee John Beaton as “ridiculous” but claims that if the photos of him frequenting a Rangers-friendly pub in the hours after the Old Firm clash are genuine then he “hasn’t helped himself”.
The former player and current BT Sports and Premier Sports pundit had to contact police himself this week after receiving a death threat and expressed some sympathy for Beaton, insisting that no-one should be subjected to that level of abuse, but he remained critical of the SFA and the official’s handling of incidents throughout the Glasgow derby and in the days since.
Speaking about photos that have been circulated on social media in recent days, he said it would be considered “sheer stupidity” if Beaton has needlessly opened himself up to more abuse by drinking at the home hostelry of the Crown Bar Loyal Rangers Supporters Club, in Bellshill, only hours after the controversial match.
“I don’t know whether that is a valid photo. But if he was photographed on the day in the pub that is just sheer stupidity,” said Sutton. “If he was photographed in the Rangers pub then you can understand Celtic fans feeling the way some of them do. I don’t think it is sensible if you are refereeing in an Old Firm game to then go into a Celtic pub or a Rangers pub because it shows an allegiance. The threats are ridiculous but he hasn’t helped himself there.”
Adamant that the threats he has received would not stop him speaking his mind, Sutton remained aghast at the handling of incidents during the match and since.
“In the game in real time you can make mistakes but it is what has happened afterwards which has turned into a sham. You cannot kick someone in the nuts, you can’t grab someone’s nuts and you can’t trample over somebody. It is not right and it is fair enough for the SFA to be called out. When there are big issues over violent conduct they have to set the precedent and they haven’t done that.”