It’s probably safe to say that December’s Old Firm clash at Parkhead has become one of the most talked about matches that Scottish football has seen for quite some time.
Coming just before the winter break, and ultimately ensuring that Rangers hold the advantage in the title race going into the second half of the season, it has led to discussion and disagreement well after the game itself.
At this point, we’re three weeks after the fact, and yet we’re still seeing articles and pundit pieces galore on the 2-1 Gers win.
In recent days, that discussion has been exacerbated by the SFA’s decision to charge Rangers with failing to control their players and staff during the match.
For their part, the Gers have vowed to resist the allegations, as per an official statement from the club, claiming that they are “astounded” by the situation.
But John Hartson doesn’t believe that they have the right to do so.
Writing on his personal Twitter account over the weekend, the former Celtic man said: “Astounded!! Astounded by your player making a throat cut gesture to the supporters.
“I’m astounded by the fact that you are astounded.
Astounded !! Astounded by your player making a throat cut gesture to the supporters. I’m astounded by the fact that you are astounded. Morally dreadful .
— John Hartson (@JohnHartson10) January 18, 2020
Obviously, Hartson is referring to the gesture made by Alfredo Morelos as he left the pitch following his late dismissal at Parkhead, but his outrage at the Gers’ decision to rebuke the charges seems a little excessive for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, there is no way, if the boot was on the other foot, that Celtic wouldn’t be up in arms about this.
Clubs have the right to disagree with allegations against them. After all, the SFA are not running a totalitarian regime north of the border.
Secondly, nowhere in the official charge is Morelos himself directly mentioned.
Sure, his sending off and subsequent gesture has caught the attention of the media, but this is not a punishment directed at the individual by any means.
Thirdly, and perhaps most significantly, there is every chance that Morelos’ gesture was quite innocent.
Yes, it looks bad, and at the very least he needs to be made aware of the implications that such a sign can be interpreted as having, but there is every chance that he was simply signifying that the game was finished, done, and that the Parkhead support should simmer down.
Hartson might be furious, but is it really justified?