Rangers hero Barry Ferguson has backed ref John Beaton after Celtic legend Tom Boyd slaughtered him for refusing to give the Hoops a penalty against Dunfermline on Saturday.

Boyd ridiculed Beaton for “bottling” the spot-kick call in the Betfred Cup game at Parkhead, claiming he shouldn’t be in charge of a game if he “doesn’t know the rules.”

Celts ambassador Boyd also went on to comment: “He’ll probably be welcomed down his pub tonight again”, in reference to a social media claim that Beaton was once spotted in a “Rangers bar”.

Now ex-Gers skipper Barry Ferguson has come out in defence of Beaton, insisting that while it should indeed have been a penalty, Boyd’s comments were out of line.

Speaking on PLZ Soccer, Ferguson said: “For me, there’s no need to make a comment like that. “I have seen it myself and, for me, it was a penalty.

“John Beaton has made a genuine mistake and I am sure he would admit that.

“Leave it at that.

“There’s no need to bring up stuff about going down the pub with his mates – or playing against ten, 11 or 12 men.

“I don’t think there’s any need for that. I don’t think we need to pander to these sort of people.

“[Referees] are only human beings, they are going to make mistakes. They’ve got a split-second decision to make.

“And if you look at it, they are going to make throughout the season quite a number of mistakes.

“There’s no need to go into if he supports a certain team.”

Celtic released a statement telling how they planned to “robustly” defend Boyd after it emerged that SFA compliance officer Clare Whyte was investigating.