Beaton happy over his handling of Saudi situation

Referee John Beaton in action during a domestic match
Referee John Beaton in action during a domestic match

Motherwell referee John Beaton insists the fall-out from his Saudi Arabian derby experience has not put him off refereeing in the league again in future.

The Category One referee returned to Glasgow on Monday night after a league decider between Al Hilal and Al Nasr in the King Fahd Stadium, Riyadh.

The match ended with Al Nasr winning 1-0 but their opponents reduced to eight men, with Beaton issuing the final card to Salem Al Dawsari for head-butting the referee.

Footage of the incident has now gone viral and in an exclusive interview with the Scottish FA, Beaton described the unique episode in his refereeing career, thanked the Saudi Arabian Football Federation for their handling of the situation and revealed that the only hassle on his return journey was a young fan seeking a selfie with the referee at the airport.

He said: “It’s safe to say this kind of thing has never happened before and I’m sure many referees have gone through entire careers without something like that to deal with.

“More than anything, I’m happy that I handled it the right way because it’s something that comes as a complete surprise and you can’t really prepare for an incident like that.

“The important thing in these situations is to keep calm, make the correct decision – which was to issue a red card – and then resume the match.”

Beaton confirmed he and his referee team received additional security provision as they made their way off the pitch but spoke pragmatically of the pressures of the match.

He said: ““It sounds more dramatic than it was but we had about 10 security guards lead us off the pitch, all wearing standard-issue suits and ties and radios.

“I have to say, though, that for all the tension during the game – and you have to factor in that this was effectively a title decider between two teams who have a history of intense rivalry - there were zero issues afterwards.

“The SAFF could not have done any more to make us feel safer on the way back to the hotel and then the airport.”

While Beaton was met by a Scottish television crew when he arrived back in Glasgow Airport last night, his adventure in Riyadh ended with a camera request of a different kind.

He said: “It was fairly quiet after the game. We went back to the hotel, ordered some food then analysed the whole match again on DVD.

“When we got to the airport the only attention I got was a wee guy who supported Al Nasr wanting a selfie with me.”