Brendan Rodgers has insisted Celtic would have lodged an appeal against Scott Brown’s dismissal at Ross County last week regardless of the circumstances which allow his captain to face Rangers at Hampden tomorrow.
Brown is free to lead Celtic out in the Scottish Cup semi-final as the SFA’s Easter holiday schedules mean a disciplinary tribunal to hear the appeal has been delayed for a week.
Speaking immediately after last Sunday’s 2-2 draw in Dingwall, Celtic manager Rodgers initially stated he had no complaints at the red card shown to Brown for a foul on Liam Boyce but would need to review footage of the incident later.
Rodgers now believes the offence should be downgraded to a booking, citing the action the same referee, Don Robertson, took against Motherwell’s Ryan Bowman for a foul on Celtic full-back Kieran Tierney earlier this season.
“I don’t think it was a red card for Scott, hence the reason for us to appeal irrespective of Easter holidays and notes from the SFA,” said Rodgers. “Yes, the Ross County player was caught late and we appeal because of the inconsistency. It was the same referee when Kieran Tierney got a challenge in the Motherwell game and the guy [Bowman] got a yellow card when it was knee-height.
“Scott was a fraction late. Yes, it was aggressive and at speed but it was mistimed. He’s gone to win the ball and he’s a fraction out. It was also following a moment in the game when, I think we’ve all seen, it’s absolutely natural for a player to be angered.”
Rodgers was referring to the penalty awarded a few minutes earlier to Ross County when Alex Schalk blatantly dived as he anticipated a challenge from Celtic defender Erik Sviatchenko. Schalk has subsequently accepted a two-match ban for simulation, while Rodgers revealed that the SFA’s head of referee operations John Fleming contacted him to offer an apology.
“He apologised on Don’s behalf and his behalf,” said Rodgers. “It was a very respectful and courteous thing to do. I told him he didn’t need to do it. But I respect that he did do it. I don’t need Don to ring me, I just need him to apologise to Erik. We make mistakes, but our job is to try to help the standard of refereeing.”
Robertson will be on duty at Hampden tomorrow as an additional assistant referee behind one of the goals and Rodgers insists that is not an issue for Celtic.
“Not for me,” he said. “I don’t want to throw the kid to the garbage when he is trying to learn his profession but if he makes too many of them, he is not going to be a top class referee, it is as simple as that.
“He is behind the goal? Well, he had better not do what the Ross County guy did and miss that one. That would be two in a week and he is really struggling to be a top class ref. But get him out there. Get him on the field. Get your composure, clear your mind and be the best that you can be. We have to help him. We have to help raise the standard.”