Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers charged over referee criticism

A two-match ban would see Rodgers suspended for the Old Firm match.

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers charged over referee criticism and could be in stand for Rangers clash at Ibrox SNS Group

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers could be in the stand for the next Old Firm derby at Ibrox after being charged by the Scottish FA over his comments about referees.

Rodgers was unhappy with decisions made in his side’s 2-0 defeat to Hearts on Sunday, when VAR reviews were involved in sending off and penalty calls.

Celtic winger Yang  was sent off for serious foul play after referee Don Robertson initially showed a yellow card for a high boot on Alex Cochrane but changed it to red after reviewing the incident on the advice of VAR John Beaton.

The visitors went 1-0 down at Tynecastle after a penalty was awarded against Tomoki Iwata when he made contact with the ball after being bumped by his Celtic teammate Alistair Johnston as players jostled in the box.

That decision came after another VAR review on the pitchside monitor and Rodgers complained afterwards that “the game was decided by the officials, on the field and outside of the field”.

The Celtic boss felt his team suffered from “really, really poor officiating”, said wrong decisions could be important in a tight title race with Rangers and that he worried for Scottish football because of the “level of incompetence”.

Those remarks have drawn the attention of the Scottish FA compliance officer and Rodgers has been charged with breaking rule 72, which states that no member of team staff shall “criticise the decision(s) and/or performance(s) of any or all match official(s) in such a way as to indicate bias or incompetence on the part of such match official; or (ii) make remarks about such match offi cial(s) which impinge on his character”.

If an independent tribunal finds that Rodgers has broken the rules, the punishment is a touchline ban, which can range from a two-match suspension at the low end of the scale up to eight matches for a “top end” offence.

Rodgers’ tribunal date has been sent for March 28, meaning that if he receives even the minimum two-match suspension, he would be in the stand for the trip to face Livingston on March 31 and the derby against Rangers a week later that could have a significant say on the Premiership title race.

Celtic say that they will “robustly defend” Rodgers’ case and while the Parkhead club say they are “astonished and confused by the date selected”, it’s understood that the Scottish FA has convened a panel at the earliest possible date.

Following Rodgers’ comments and other criticism of officials in recent weeks, the Scottish Senior Referees Association said that disproportionate and personal criticism of their members had a dangerous effect and needed to stop.

A spokesperson said: “It has become too easy throughout the course of this season for managers and clubs to turn the focus – and resultant fan ire – on to match officials, often to deflect from team performance and results.

“We fully appreciate the importance of matches, especially now as we head into the defining period of the season for the destiny of the championship, European and top-six places, as well as relegation and play-off matters.

“Nonetheless, match officials should be able to carry out their duties without fear of them impacting their personal lives, their personal safety and the safety and security of their families.

“It is regrettable that criticism, which we generally accept is a part of the game for players and coaches as well as referees, has become much more frequent, disproportionate, and personalised towards our members.

“Everyone involved in Scottish football has a responsibility to behave professionally and respectfully and to understand the consequences of their actions.”

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