UK

Police Scotland says it is investigating reports of “threatening and abusive” messages sent to referee Kevin Clancy following Saturday’s Old Firm derby.

The Scottish Football Association (SFA) said the referee’s contact details were published online after the premiership clash in which Celtic beat Rangers 3-2.

The SFA said it had referred a “significant volume of threatening and abusive” emails and phone messages to Police Scotland and its security and integrity manager had been liaising with the force and Clancy.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said on Tuesday: “We are investigating alleged threatening communications which were reported to us by the SFA today.

“All reports of this nature are treated with the utmost seriousness and will be investigated thoroughly.

“We will provide support to those affected as our investigation progresses.”

On Monday, SFA Chief Executive Ian Maxwell said a situation cannot be allowed to develop where a “referee’s privacy and safety, and those of his family, are compromised”.

He added: “The nature of the messages goes way beyond criticism of performance and perceived decision-making – some are potentially criminal in nature and include threats and abuse towards Kevin and his family.

“We have referred the correspondence to the police and condemn this behaviour in the strongest possible terms, as well as the posting of a referee’s personal details online with the sole purpose of causing distress.”

The body that represents match officials, the Scottish Senior Football Referees’ Association, condemned the “wholly unacceptable level of abuse” directed towards Clancy.

A statement added: “Referees are not immune from criticism and accept there will always be legitimate debate on subjective decision-making.

“However, when this becomes targeted threats and abuse, impacting on their personal and professional lives, this clearly crosses the line.

“We continue to offer our full support to Kevin and all our members, many of whom have experienced an increase in abuse this season.

“We welcome the Scottish FA’s strong support to protect referees and the wider image of the game.”

Rangers also condemned the abuse.

A spokesperson for the club said: “Rangers condemns in the strongest terms any abuse of match officials. We are all passionate about our game, but targeted, personal abuse of referees cannot be tolerated.”

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Rangers are currently 12 points behind league leaders Celtic with just seven games remaining.

Rangers manager Michael Beale claimed Clancy had got two major decisions wrong during the Glasgow derby at Celtic Park, and the Ibrox club subsequently wrote to the SFA seeking an explanation for one of them, an early goal from Alfredo Morelos which was disallowed.

The club said it was “astonished” by the SFA referee operations team’s response.

A spokesperson said: “The club can confirm the Scottish FA has responded with regards to the disallowed Alfredo Morelos goal, with the response claiming the correct decision was taken.

“The club is astonished by this, especially given most observers, including former referees and former players, could see no issue with the goal standing.”

The club highlighted a case in England where Brighton and Hove Albion received an apology for not being awarded a penalty in a match against Tottenham Hotspur, alongside a pledge to review the incident.

The Rangers spokesperson added: “While an apology does not alter the outcome of a match, such responsibility and openness would be welcome in Scotland.”

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