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By ESPN Staff

SFA lambast Celtic ref pressure ahead of Gers clash

The Scottish Football Association have hit out at a Celtic source for trying to "exert additional pressure'' on the match officials for Sunday's Old Firm derby by leaking the club's apparent frustration at refereeing decisions.

SFA president George Peat confirmed discussions had taken place between the governing body and the club but refused to divulge their contents.

BBC Scotland reported on Thursday that Celtic were considering contacting the SFA to express their concern and frustration over refereeing decisions that had gone against them.

In a statement, Peat retorted: "We find it disappointing and somewhat bizarre that, in the build-up to an Old Firm derby, an unnamed Celtic 'source' would seek to exert additional pressure on match officials by issuing ill-timed and fundamentally inaccurate comments.

"The validity of these comments is questionable in any case, since the 'source' is not courageous enough to put his name to them.

"In actual fact, discussions between the Scottish FA and Celtic have taken place but the contents of these discussions will remain private, as was agreed with the club.

"I am sure the Celtic chief executive, Peter Lawwell, will be concerned by the fact that someone has elected to speak on behalf of his club, seemingly without consent, and therefore undermined his authority.''

Both Old Firm games this season have seen major decisions go against Celtic, including several penalty claims during their 2-1 defeat at Ibrox in October, most notably when David Weir felled Shaun Maloney without punishment from Craig Thomson.

Marc-Antoine Fortune had a goal controversially disallowed by Steve Conroy in the 1-1 draw at Celtic Park on January 3 for a foul on Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor.

But former referee Kenny Clark feels every club could have the same complaints as he criticised the Celtic source for his comments ahead of the crucial Scottish Premier League clash.

"The cynic in me makes me feel it is a deliberate ploy to increase the pressure on match officials and develop a siege mentality among the Celtic fans and team,'' Clark told BBC Scotland.

"I find it very odd that a Celtic 'source' is leaking this at this stage.

"I think they should get their own house in order in terms of the way their team has been playing.

"I'm sure every club could come up with a catalogue of decisions they feel have gone against them.

"I think it's irresponsible to stir up a hornet's nest ahead of an Old Firm game which will be ridiculously over-hyped in the first place.''

Clark feels referee Dougie McDonald will already be under enough pressure and hit back at suggestions from the Celtic source that striker Robbie Keane was being unfairly penalised for offside by linesmen who cannot keep up with his pace.

"I don't know whether Celtic think they can put pressure on the assistants with this line about Robbie Keane,'' he added.

"But there have been plenty of quick players over the years in Scottish football, like Craig Bellamy and Brian Laudrup, and assistants have always coped with them.''

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