Referee union wants action over ‘crisis’ after alleged threats against Beaton

John Beaton
John Beaton was escorted to his match on Saturday by police

The abuse of referees in Scotland has reached “crisis point”, says a union representing match officials.

Prospect wants an “urgent meeting” with the Scottish FA after becoming concerned about its members.

Referee John Beaton was given a police escort into Ayr United’s Somerset Park on Saturday after allegedly receiving threatening messages.

Beaton was criticised after Alfredo Morelos was not punished for incidents in Rangers’ recent win over Celtic.

Assistant referee Calum Spence was struck by a coin in September and Prospect wants action to “deter” such incidents.

“Our members are fully aware that criticism and commentary are part and parcel of the roles they carry out,” the multi-industry union said in a statement. “We are aware that it will always be difficult to prevent a tiny minority of individuals from engaging in appalling behaviour.

“However, all professional football organisations have a responsibility to lead by example and to do everything possible to deter behaviours that affect the health and safety of officials.

“One of our members this evening [Saturday] described the current situation as the worst atmosphere and environment he has seen for over a decade.”

Earlier on Saturday, SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell spoke of his “deep dismay” that Beaton and his family had become the target of threats.

Police inquiries are “ongoing” after a complaint was made “regarding texts and calls received by a 36-year-old man”.

On Friday, Scottish champions Celtic said Beaton should be allowed to explain his decisions publicly after no retrospective action was taken when the SFA reviewed incidents in which Morelos appeared to make contact off the ball with Celtic’s Scott Brown, Anthony Ralston and Ryan Christie.

Celtic also want a meeting with Maxwell and the SFA said it would be happy to meet with clubs to discuss concerns.

“Clearly all associations and clubs condemn appalling behaviours of a tiny minority, but they cannot afford to be passive bystanders when it comes to addressing the culture of personalised and aggressive criticism of those officiating at the top level of Scottish football,” Prospect added in their statement.

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