Hearts prove Hartson's guilt
By Steve Luckings
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
The incident happened just 90 seconds into the 1-0 win at Tynecastle and the evidence shows the burly Welsh star clattering Webster which would surely have resulted in a red card had referee Kenny Clark seen the incident.
The bust-up appears to make a mockery of the former Coventry man's claims that he is innocent, but the aggressive front man looks set to escape any disciplinary asction from the Scottish Football Association.
As damning as the evidence might be, the tape was made by third-place Hearts and not accredited to any other source such as the BBC, even though they screened the game live.
The BBC missed the flashpoint, as did Clark, who had to consult a linesman before dishing out former Luton Town man Hartson a yellow card.
David Taylor, chief executive of the SFA, said: "Television match recordings can only be used if they are from an accredited source. We are not going to interfere with the decisions of the referee."
Hearts keeper Craig Gordon insisted he saw the assault and the club felt the decision had a major influence on the match as Celtic would have been down to ten men for the bulk of the game.
They were further incensed when Hartson publicly denied his guilt, claiming there was "a bit of argy-bargy" and hinted Webster made a meal of it.
Hearts boss Craig Levein said: "If John Hartson had kept his mouth shut we would have left it alone. But the evidence is as clear as possible that Andy did nothing wrong.
"It was a deliberate elbow in the face. There was no argy-bargy.
"When you read that John Hartson wished there was TV evidence to clear his name, there is but I don't think it clears his name whatsoever.
"Trying to infer there was nothing wrong with Andy did Hartson no favours whatsoever.
"He said it was shoulder to shoulder, argy-bargy, these were his words. I take issue with the comments he has made since Sunday. He has said things that are out of order."
After the game Hartson said: ''I wish the TV cameras had picked up Sunday's incident because I know they would prove my point.
"I don't want to slag anyone off, we are both big boys. I don't hold any grudges and I hope Andy doesn't either. There is no way I hit him with my elbow... that kind of thing should be stamped out of the game."
But Levein added: "If he had said after the game 'I was lucky to get away with it, the cameras did not see it', fair enough.
"But he has tried to turn the whole thing round and blame Andy Webster, saying he either dived or cheated, or tried to get him sent off.
"What makes it cynical to me is Hartson's reaction, when he tried to pick Andy off the ground as if he has dived.
"That was no shoulder charge. When I saw the tape it vindicated what our players had said."
Hearts face Celtic again in the Scottish Cup at Tynecastle a week on Sunday. Levein said: "Our players will get on with the game."