Celtic are to lodge an appeal against Scott Brown’s dismissal against Ross County in Dingwall which will free their captain to play in next Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final against Rangers at Hampden.
Brown was shown a straight red card by referee Don Robertson for a reckless stoppage-time foul on County striker Liam Boyce who had converted an 89th minute penalty kick to earn the home side a 2-2 draw.
Celtic were incensed by the spot-kick award which led to Robertson being branded “embarrassing” by manager Brendan Rodgers. The match official failed to spot clear simulation by County substitute Alex Schalk as he anticipated a challenge by Erik Sviatchenko.
The SFA’s fast track disciplinary tribunal schedule following the Easter weekend means Celtic’s appeal against Brown’s sending-off will not be heard until 27 April, so any suspension will not kick in until the Premiership meeting with Rangers at Ibrox two days later.
County striker Schalk is also likely to face a disciplinary hearing with SFA compliance officer Tony McGlennan set to issue the Dutchman with a notice of complaint for his dive to win the penalty.
“It’s an embarrassing decision at this level, to have that against you,” said Rodgers. “Is it cheating? It is. Let’s not fudge and beat about the bush. That’s what it is. You see it in the game but the referee lost control of the game today, which led to the penalty and the sending off. It wasn’t very good officiating.
“I didn’t speak to the referee afterwards on the pitch. It wasn’t the time or place. But I’ll definitely speak to him if he lets the lock off his door.
“There is no danger to us in the game at that stage but the referee absolutely takes the two points away from us. I have seen some bad decisions up here since I’ve been at Celtic but that is the worst.
“He is right in front of it and there is clearly no contact. Sometimes a ref can be conned into it a bit if Erik stretches his leg or dangles his foot. That can sometimes invite it but he never did that. He moved his foot out of the way. The boy falls and he gives a penalty, which was incredible.”
Asked if he had any complaints about Brown’s red card, Rodgers initially replied “No” before adding he would need to review footage of the incident before coming to a definitive conclusion.
“Scotty has gone in and caught the boy late, but I’d have to see it again,” added Rodgers. “But Scott has been brilliant this season. He’s never once made a challenge like that. He’s been aggressive and strong.
“In his defence, the referee was letting a lot go on him. But that was the referee’s making. It was a poor end to the game. It’s up to the referee how he sees it. If that’s the way it is, we will have to deal with it. Scott will be bitterly disappointed. Decisions like that wind players up. But listen, we accept it.
“But the talking point of the game is the penalty. It’s absolutely awful to take when it costs you another win. The players have worked very hard and controlled three-quarters of the game.”
Ross County manager Jim McIntyre had some sympathy for Rodgers while also gratified by his players’ efforts in securing a potentially vital point in their quest for Premiership survival.
“Obviously the key point was the penalty, with which I can fully understand Celtic’s grievance,” said McIntyre. “We have had several against us this season which we have had to suck up and take. It’s hard when the decision goes against you.
“Alex is expecting contact. You can clearly see Sviatchenko is going to make a challenge and Alex is expecting it’s coming and he is on his way down expecting the contact. Sviatchenko, being the good defender that he is, doesn’t over-commit, pulls his leg back and Alex goes down.
“We certainly don’t encourage players to go down without any contact, what I’m saying to you is he’s expecting contact and the contact doesn’t come. Does it look good? No, it certainly does not. It’s not a penalty. So I can totally understand Celtic’s frustration.
“I’m delighted to get a point. I’m sure the other teams would have written this off as no points for Ross County with how strong Celtic have been this season.”