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John Beaton Rangers vs Celtic curveball is SFA 'message' after Brendan Rodgers blast

It's the curve ball that no-one in their right mind would want to receive.

So it’s probably just as well then that referees don’t think like normal people. Because when John Beaton opened his emails on Tuesday morning to discover that the hottest potato in town had just landed in his inbox, he’ll have regarded it as a badge of honour rather than see it for what it really is - the ultimate hospital pass.

Former grade one ref Stuart Dougal knows the feeling. Which is why he believes Beaton will be buzzing at the prospect of taking charge of Sunday’s powderkeg Old Firm derby when his every human instinct ought to have him quivering at the thought. To ramp up the pressure, Beaton’s card was marked very publicly by Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers after the champions crashed to defeat at Tynecastle last month.

Rodgers jabbed a finger of blame at the officials for that 2-0 loss and called out Beaton for ‘incompetence’ in his role in the VAR studio, stoking the flames of a thousand whorey old conspiracy theories.

Which is precisely why his appointment as the man in the middle this weekend - for a potential title decider - almost broke the internet on Tuesday morning. But, according to Dougal, Beaton will have been protected from the blast.

Speaking exclusively to Record Sport the former FIFA whistler said: “Believe it or not, referees don’t actually bother with all that stuff. I know we’re only human but if you stay away from social media and try not to read the newspapers then, as a match official, you go into your own little world.

“They have their own support network and that’s who John will be speaking to - other top referees, his referees’ association and obviously his family. John is an experienced official and this is not the