BRENDAN Rodgers today confessed that he fears for Scottish football because of the “incompetence” of match officials after blaming Celtic’s 2-0 defeat to Hearts at Tynecastle on “really, really poor officiating”.

Rodgers, whose side would have leapfrogged Rangers into top spot in the cinch Premiership table if they had won in Gorgie, was incensed at the red card which Yang Hyun-gyu received early on and with the first half penalty decision that was given against Tomoki Iwata.

Yang was initially shown a yellow card for a foul on Alex Cochrane – but referee Don Robertson upgraded it to a red after being urged to look back at the incident on his pitchside monitor by his VAR colleague John Beaton over at Clydesdale House.

Robertson then gave the hosts a spot kick – which Jorge Grant stepped up and netted to put Hearts ahead - shortly before half-time after Beaton spotted that the ball had struck the arm of midfielder Iwata inside his own area.

Rodgers argued that his winger had only deserved a booking and that Hearts should not have been awarded a penalty kick. 

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“My feeling is that the game was decided by the officials,” he said. “On the field and outside of the field. I don’t really comment on officials, they make mistakes and whatever else. But today that felt like really, really poor officiating. 

“The first one is the sending off when there is no force. Show a still image of that and of course and you will see a foot up with the head near it. But it’s not the reality of the move. 

“Don got it actually right on the field. It was a high boot, so it’s a yellow card – no malice or force. For John Beaton to actually look at that in VAR, supposedly under no pressure, and say that was sending off? I find that incredible. 

The Herald:  “The second one is worse. If you have a penalty go against you for that then there will be penalties every single weekend and midweek. I don’t know what he is supposed to do. 

“Tomo is jumping, he got a nudge, he is coming down, the ball falls on to his arm and there is no intention to move. Then you get the penalty against and he gets the chance to look at it and see it. 

“That really left us with an uphill task in the game and credit to my players.  They kept going, their keeper has made a few good saves. If we get one of them it changes the momentum of the game. But it was a poor day for the officials.”

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Asked if he had talked to Robertson after the match, Rodgers said: “I spoke to him in the tunnel just briefly, but it’s a waste of time if I’m honest. There is no change and I also think as well that VAR is not the problem here. That’s clear. 

“It’s competence. And I think the first one is a great example of the game being refereed outside of the pitch. This is the thing everyone is talking about, that the officials do their job and if it’s something that’s clear and obvious maybe step in. 

“The referee made the decision and someone outside made another decision to say it was a sending off. So that’s the game being refereed outside of the field and in big games that costs you.

“I think it is discussed and I have the delegate wanting to speak to me. Waste of time, waste of energy, because there is no change.  I’m not one who comes crying about referees, be it here or the Premier League, because I understand there will be mistakes made. But that today was awful officiating in what was a big game for us.” 

The Herald: Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers during his side's cinch Premiership match with Hearts at TynecastleRodgers admitted he is unsure if Celtic will seek clarification from the SFA over the refereeing decisions at Tynecastle – but he described the handling of the Premiership game against Hearts as the worst he had encountered in his two spells as manager at Parkhead.  

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“I don’t know (if Celtic will complain),” he said. “We will go away and have a look at it. But it doesn’t’ change anything, that’s the reality. It was so disappointed.

 “In my time up here I’m not one to have a go at refs because I understand it’s a very, very difficult positon they are in. I try to respect decisions and give the benefit of the doubt.

“But I think when I see that level of incompetence is the only word I can use, then that makes me worry for the game. In such a tight title race, which it is and it’s fantastic and great to be involved in, that can make the difference. And that today made the difference for us.”