REFEREEING CONTROVERSY

Referee John Beaton and Rangers’ striker Alfredo Morelos.

By Bill Heaney

Celtic Football Club expressed surprise today that there will be no disciplinary action taken by the Scottish FA regarding incidents involving striker Alfredo Morelos during the match with Rangers on December 29.

The SFA has been widely reported as saying that no action was taken against Morelos because the match referee saw all of the incidents in question.

A statement from Celtic said: “Given that the referee took no action at the time, this tends to suggest that such conduct, which in one instance led to a Celtic player, Anthony Ralston, being injured, is acceptable in Scottish football. That cannot be right.

“On the day, Celtic did not play well enough to win the match, something we accept. However, this issue goes beyond the result of the match.

“Celtic is not the only club this season to raise concerns regarding the standard of officiating at matches in Scotland, concerns which have also been shared by many commentators on the game.”

levein craiCraig Levein, the manager of Heart of Midlothian, pictured left, raised similar concerns about the refereeing of a match involving Celtic earlier this season.

The Celtic spokesman added: “In order to fully understand what is going on, Celtic, our supporters, Scottish clubs and the general Scottish football public need transparency in these matters.

“And we call on the Scottish FA to allow the referee, John Beaton, to explain these decisions publicly as well as any match officials involved in other similar circumstances.”

In the meantime, Celtic say they have requested a meeting with Scottish FA Chief Executive, Ian Maxwell, and the Association’s Head of Refereeing.

Meanwhile, Rangers are poised to sign Bournemouth’s former England striker Jermain Defoe on an 18-month loan deal.

The 36-year-old has been restricted to just four substitute appearances in the Premier League this season and hasn’t scored since the end of March.

He will bolster Steven Gerrard’s attacking options as the Ibrox club seek to maintain their challenge to Scottish Premiership champions Celtic.

Rangers are level on points with their city rivals, having played a game more.

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe says no deal has yet been finalised, insisting any potential transfer will only progress if “in the player’s best interest”.

“No deal has been finalised, so until that moment happens, it would be foolish of me to comment, so let’s wait and see what happens in the next few days,” Howe said.

lafferty rangersDefoe will add experience and proven goal scoring ability to a Rangers squad which currently only has Alfredo Morelos and Kyle Lafferty, pictured left,  as recognised strikers.

The London-born striker has scored more than 200 goals in a 20-year career featuring spells at West Ham, Tottenham, Portsmouth, Sunderland and Bournemouth, as well as Toronto FC in Major League Soccer.

Defoe, who also scored 20 goals in 57 outings for England, is expected to join Rangers on a forthcoming warm-weather training camp in Tenerife during the current winter break.

They return to action against Cowdenbeath in the Scottish Cup on Friday, 18 January, before facing Kilmarnock away in the Premiership five days later.

The terms of the deal mean Bournemouth will retain the option of recalling Defoe either this summer or in January 2020.

Rangers are also expected to re-sign Southampton’s Northern Ireland midfielder Steven Davis, with talks continuing over either a loan or permanent deal.

Celtic meanwhile have signed Scottish internationalist, Oliver Burke, on loan from West Bromwich Albion until the end of this season, subject to a medical.

The 21-year-old winger started his career with Nottingham Forest before he moved to RB Leipzig in August 2016. A year later, he returned to England, signing for West Brom. He has made 21 appearances for the Championship side, scoring one goal, which came this season in the EFL Cup against Luton Town.

He has also been capped five times by Scotland, making his international debut against Denmark in March 2016.

Oliver will join up with Brendan Rodgers’ squad this week for their winter training camp in Dubai

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