REFEREE John Beaton has opened up on the vile death threats and online abuse he received following a Celtic vs Rangers clash in 2018.

The SFA whistler came under fire after the Old Firm match in December 2018 when the Light Blues won 1-0.

The 37-year-old was outed after failing to punish striker Alfredo Morelos for a stamp on defender Anthony Ralston, a clash with Ryan Christie and a kick at Celts skipper Scott Brown.

Parkhead chiefs then released a statement calling on the SFA to allow Beaton to explain his decisions publicly.

On the abuse he received after the game, Beaton said: “It was a tough time for me and had a massive impact. It was probably a turning point in terms of seeing the scrutiny that we are put under in games like that. The pressure on those games is incredible and it’s such a unique rivalry. It’s about survival for the referees, players and managers. You have to manage your way through those games as best as possible.

“The feeling immediately after the match was that it had gone well for us a refereeing team. But clearly the media fallout was such that the perception of my performance had very quickly changed.

“I was due to referee Ayr United v Falkirk at the height of the difficult period and I remember speaking to John Fleming, the Head of Refereeing at the time, who said I could have the weekend off. I said no to that offer as I felt it was really important for the younger guys coming through that they saw me fulfilling that appointment. It was important to do the game and show I wasn’t going to lie down to the criticism.

“I don’t remember anything about the game at Somerset Park, it was just about getting through the 90 minutes. I was glad I did it.

“It was a while before I was back involved with either of the teams, but I took charge of the Aberdeen v Celtic match in April 2019, that saw Celtic clinch the league title. That was a real show of faith from the Scottish FA and a boost for me personally to be appointed to the match and to do well in it.

“Before that period in my career, there had been a real separation between my private life and being a referee. All of a sudden, I had a situation where they merged into one. That will never go away now, but like everything in football, things move on and I’ve refereed both Celtic and Rangers multiple times since with no issues.”