Hibs' Neil Lennon says game being 'dragged into gutter' after ref complains to police

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Threats aren't acceptable

Alleged threats made against referee John Beaton are "absolutely shameful", says Hibernian head coach Neil Lennon.

Police confirmed at the weekend they had received a complaint "regarding texts and calls received by a 36-year-old man".

Beaton, criticised for not punishing Alfredo Morelos during Rangers' win over Celtic, had a police escort to Ayr's game against Falkirk on Saturday.

"It's dragging the name of the Scottish game in the gutter," Lennon said.

"My sympathies go to John and his family - [the] guy's just trying to do his job as honestly as he can.

"It's very, very distressing, not only for the individual but his loved ones and his friends and other people around him. It's totally, totally out of order. It's absolutely shameful.

"We have to address this. We're not strong enough on the perpetrators of these acts. The authorities - whether it be the footballing authorities or the government - need to crack down because it's happening far too often."

Morelos was criticised for his behaviour during Rangers' 1-0 Scottish Premiership win over Celtic on 29 December, with the forward appearing to aim a kick at Scott Brown, as well as catching Anthony Ralston with his studs and seeming to grab at Ryan Christie.

No retrospective action could be taken by the Scottish Football Association, as all three incidents were seen in their entirety by referee Beaton.

Lennon said that action should be taken to stop the sort of threats allegedly made against the referee.

"These people need to brought to justice," he said. "They need to be humiliated in public and hopefully that will be a deterrent for anyone thinking about doing the same things, whether they mean it or not."

Lennon was struck by a coin during October's draw with Hearts - one of a number of incidences of objects being thrown from the crowd this season.

"I've been involved with incidents myself and I know other people have been involved in incidents and it just seems to be one thing after another," he told BBC Scotland.

"In terms of referees getting criticised, that's fine because they will make mistakes. Managers will make mistakes.

"But don't go beyond that. It's a game of football. It's a sport that we all love.

"Scottish football in essence is a great public spectacle. These people are spoiling it. It's not a minority - that's my worry. It's happening far too often."

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