First Touch

Controversial Referee Returns To Celtic This Weekend

Give the Scottish Football Association credit: They love irony. Don Robertson will referee Celtic at Livingston on Sunday, less than four weeks after Hoops manager Brendan Rodgers labeled him (along with VAR official John Beaton) “incompetent”. Rodgers’ hearing before the SFA over those remarks is just days away. No potential conflict there, right?

scottish referee Don Robertson with celtic manager Brendan Rodgers

The Full Scottish

To be fair, the pool of qualified referees in Scotland (interpret the word “qualified” as you wish) is limited, given the size of the domestic league. But to have Robertson officiate a Celtic match less than a month after Rodgers was served with a notice of complaint following his comments post-match at Tynecastle seems absurd, even by SFA standards.

Not surprisingly, reports suggest Celtic plan to defend Rodgers in the matter, which is being adjudicated as we write, with one rag (that Scousers don’t buy—hint, hint) suggesting the club have hired the “Lionel Messi” of lawyers to defend the manager (ugh).

Meanwhile, Robertson hasn’t exactly kept a low profile himself this month. He was scheduled to referee the match between Rangers and Dundee at Dens Park the Sunday before the international break but controversially called it off 90 minutes prior to kickoff.

Silver Lining

For his part, Rodgers appears ready to move on. The Irishman actually credited the two-match automatic suspension with benefitting winger Yang Hyun-Jun, who saw red from Robertson during that Tynecastle fixture, by giving him more time to get comfortable in Glasgow and focus on his fitness.

“He looks like he has come onto his game and looking stronger,” Rodgers said. “He looks a different player in training now. It’s been a great opportunity for him. He’s been working on his overall game, his understanding out on the field. His analysis behind the scenes. Getting his upper body strength because it’s a physical game here and in Europe.”

Rodgers added: “People … don’t understand it … You can’t just drop someone into a football club from the other side of the world and expect them to adapt to the culture, food, training … all the various facets it takes. You have to give those players that time.”

We wonder if Robertson will give Yang that time on the field this Sunday.

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