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Monday 11 December 2017

Celtic on collision course with SFA over protest at referee's Old Firm decisions

Celtic are on a collision course with the SFA after another controversial Old Firm clash.

The decision to send off Scott Brown and the refusal to punish Madjid Bougherra's persistent fouling of Robbie Keane pushed Celtic over the limit with a strongly critical piece appearing on the club website.

Brown was red carded in the 65th minute as referee Dougie McDonald sprinted 30 yards to flash the card at the Celtic captain after a bout of wrestling with Gers' Kyle Lafferty.

No action was taken against Lafferty despite both players appearing equally guilty for the type of incident that results in two yellow cards most weeks of the season.

The match build-up was dominated by news of a "Celtic source" leaking a story about discussions with the SFA over refereeing decisions.

No name was given to the item that appeared on the Celtic website two hours after the match ended but there can be no doubt that it was sanctioned by the highest authorities at the club.

It said: "Referee Dougie McDonald sent off the Celtic captain following a tangle with Kyle Lafferty, with the Rangers player unpunished for his part in the incident.

"It immediately seemed to be a controversial decision to everyone in the ground, and certainly, any fair-minded person looking at the incident at the time or subsequent TV replays could see it wasn't a red card.

"It was a decision which had a major impact on the game and Celtic will now appeal against the red card, which saw Tony Mowbray's side down to 10 men for the last half-hour of the game.

"Certainly, the Celtic support in the Broomloan Road Stand and beyond were left mystified and angry at yet another refereeing decision in a derby game which has gone against the club."

The statement also listed other decisions that had gone against the club in the two previous Old Firm clashes.

After the match Tony Mowbray wouldn't comment directly on Brown's sending off but did say that others who had watched the incident again said they thought it had been harsh.

Celtic's appeal will require McDonald to view the incident again and decide whether he got the decision right.

Contact between the two players seemed equal, with the referee's view obstructed by three players as television replays showed him running over to the incident with his hand already in his pocket to issue a red card.

Having Brown available for Sunday's trip to Falkirk is an irrelevance compared to the bigger issues surrounding the incident.

It is believed that Celtic have complied a dossier of DVD evidence from the season that highlights inconsistencies that range from players celebrating goals, kicking the ball away and offside incidents involving Keane.

Some cynics would claim that the move by Celtic is a diversionary tactic aimed at deflecting the fact that they now trail Rangers by 10 points, with Mowbray admitting that the title is "now Rangers' to lose".

The faults and flaws in the Celtic side were again present at Ibrox.

Robbie Keane had Celtic's best chance in the 35th minute but his 18-yard volley was blocked by Rangers keeper Allan McGregor.

Darren O'Dea was called into play on the half-hour mark when Thomas Rogne pulled a hamstring, with the former U21 skipper policing Kris Boyd well and producing a great goal-saving tackle as the Rangers striker looked certain to score in the 49th minute.

Celtic's 10 men looked to be holding out for a draw until the third minute of injury time when Maurice Edu scrambled the ball home from six yards out after Artur Boruc had blocked efforts from Madjid Bougherra and Boyd. Aiden McGeady was replaced by Georgios Samaras on the hour mark, and Mowbray revealed afterwards that he hadn't trained for two days due to a virus.

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