Police Scotland are investigating the abusive and threatening messages sent to referee Kevin Clancy following Saturday’s Old Firm.
The messages, which were condemned by the Scottish Football Association (SFA) and Rangers, were referred to Police Scotland after the personal and professional contact details of Clancy, who took charge at Celtic Park, were published online after the match.
A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We are investigating alleged threatening communications which were reported to us by the SFA today (Tuesday, 11 April).
“All reports of this nature are treated with the utmost seriousness and will be investigated thoroughly.
“We will provide support to those affected as our investigation progresses.”
Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos tapped in Borna Barisic’s corner, only to be penalised by Clancy for a push on defender Alistair Johnston.
Nick Walsh and Daniel McFarlane – who were on VAR duty – agreed with Clancy’s decision, leaving the visitors furious.
‘We all have a responsibility to protect our game’
The SFA has since confirmed its security and integrity manager has been liaising with Clancy and Police Scotland following a series of unacceptable messages that were sent via email and phone over the holiday weekend.
Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell said: “The nature of the messages goes way beyond criticism of performance and perceived decision-making – some are potentially criminal in nature and include threats and abuse towards Kevin and his family.
“We have referred the correspondence to the police and condemn this behaviour in the strongest possible terms, as well as the posting of a referee’s personal details online with the sole purpose of causing distress.
“Football is our national game. It improves and saves lives. Without referees, there is no game, and while decisions will always be debated with or without the use of VAR, we cannot allow a situation to develop where a referee’s privacy and safety, and those of his family, are compromised.
“We all have a responsibility to protect our game and those essential to it.”
Rangers ‘astonished’ by SFA response
A Rangers spokesperson said: “Firstly, Rangers condemns in the strongest terms any abuse of match officials. We are all passionate about our game, but targeted, personal abuse of referees cannot be tolerated.
“The club can confirm the Scottish FA has responded with regards to the disallowed Alfredo Morelos goal, with the response claiming the correct decision was taken. The club is astonished by this, especially given most observers, including former referees and former players, could see no issue with the goal standing.
“This comes following a weekend in England where PGMOL have offered an apology to Brighton and Hove Albion for the non-award of a penalty in their match with Tottenham Hotspur, alongside a pledge to review the incident.
“While an apology does not alter the outcome of a match, such responsibility and openness would be welcome in Scotland.”
‘It is embarrassing’
Rangers went on to lose the game 3-2 and are now 12 points behind Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic, with seven games to go.
Following his first league defeat as Gers boss, Michael Beale said: “We definitely deserved something from the game.
“There are one or two decisions that I think have gone against us, so I’m a bit disappointed with that.
“Certainly, in terms of the goal Alfredo scores first half, their boy [Johnston] isn’t trying to play the ball and if you look at Alfredo’s shirt and the number on his back it’s twisted round to his left shoulder. That would prove that both were at it.”
Sky Sports co-commentator Ally McCoist questioned the vital on-field decision that denied Rangers a goal, adding: “It is absolutely embarrassing the way we are running VAR. We are a laughing stock. He gives him a little nudge.”
Fellow co-commentator Andy Walker agreed with McCoist, while Sky Sports’ Kris Boyd didn’t hold back in the studio, adding: “It’s embarrassing.
“It’s a contact sport, Alistair Johnston has a grip of Alfredo Morelos and Alfredo Morelos has a grip of him as well.
“Then all of a sudden he decides to fall forward because he’s caught under the ball.
“The both of them are at it. There is a push from Morelos – he’s just trying to free himself.
“For me I don’t think there’s enough in it to be given as a foul and if it was at the other end the Celtic fans and Celtic players would be of the exact same opinion.”
Sky Sports News revealed last January that Rangers held talks with the SFA over “a number of refereeing concerns” following their 1-1 draw at Aberdeen, which was also officiated by Clancy.
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