Former Celtic star in ref rant as he admits 2003 Rangers defeat still leaves him sick
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Former Celtic star in ref rant as he admits 2003 Rangers defeat still leaves him sick

Former Celtic star John Hartson thinks referees could decide the outcome of the title race between Rangers and Celtic because…well why wouldn’t he?

However, the consistenly comical Welshman also let slip that he still feels sick every time he sees his disallowed goal from the 2003 League Cup final.

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With complaints about the standard of officials coming from pretty much all angles after another weekend of howlers, Hartson donned his tinfoil hat as he insisted those highlighting the errors involving Celtic at the weekend are “clutching at straws”.

“It might well do with the standard of referees,” Hartson said [Daily Record].

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it was decided by refereeing decisions. I think we all have to get prepared for that.

“I’ve had it myself, two goals against Rangers. I was three yards onside in the League Cup final [of 2003]. I still feel sick every time I look at it.

“I wouldn’t want to be a referee. It is ridiculously hard to get all the calls right. They must rely on their linesmen to help. If the ref’s 50 yards away, or 40 yards, or 30 yards, the linesman should be up to speed if he is on that side.”

When Hartson was told Livingston manager David Martindale had commented on how Kevin Clancy had dismissed information from his assistant and fourth official to allow two Celtic strikes the Livi boss felt should have been disallowed, he somehow used it as a means to complain about the Rangers game, adding: “Well that’s a disgrace. The linesman can see it. That’s not acceptable.

“That is unbelievable to think that.

“That is an incredible thing to do from a referee. If I’ve got somebody in my corner to help me, and he’s seen it and got a better view of it than I have, surely I’m using his help?

“Using that extra pair of eyes. I can’t believe that’s happened really.

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“But other than that you go on about the game and the performance and the result and it could have been seven.

“You are clutching at straws really going on about the Rogic handball. The ball was whacked at his hand – how do you get your hand out of that?

“If he is running and the ball smashes against his hand. Rather than talk about Celtic’s brilliant play, and how well they did, we are talking about refereeing decisions.

“Again, you look at the television and see that (Aberdeen’s) Lewis Ferguson got booked for standing in front of a player then five minutes later Joe Aribo does it and doesn’t get booked. All of a sudden, where do you stand on that? It’s like everybody’s going on about ‘Celtic, they’ve got the referee again’ but obviously there is a foul in the build-up to Rangers goal against Aberdeen.

“It’s tit for tat. Get the decisions right and there is none of this going at each other and arguing.

“I think VAR would help, I think it would clear up a lot of really tight decisions. But they have had a lot of problems with VAR down south.

“I think VAR is a good thing because if you can improve the game and help referees in any way that’s a good thing.”

Meanwhile, Rangers could benefit from major format changes in the UEFA Champions League from season 2024/2025.

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