The Scottish FA has released a statement describing its “deep dismay” at threats made against the referee who officiated in Rangers’ 1-0 win over Celtic on December 30.
Police Scotland are investigating after John Beaton and his family were targeted with threatening messages online in the wake of the Old Firm match.
The official has found himself at the centre of controversy after allowing Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos to escape punishment during the Ibrox side's victory over rivals Celtic.
As a result of the threats, Beaton will have police protection before, during and after Ayr's game with Falkirk in the Scottish Championship on Saturday.
"It is with deep dismay, that in the last 24 hours, we learned of one of our match officials having had threats made against him and his family," said Ian Maxwell, Chief Executive of the Scottish FA.
"We are in close contact with those involved and with Police Scotland to ensure that they are safe and that those responsible are identified and held accountable for their actions.
"This is not the first time in recent weeks that our match officials have been targeted. Another referee was allegedly threatened and assaulted at a lower-league game prior to Christmas. These incidents are isolated but are they are unacceptable and extremely concerning when they occur.
"Our match officials make hundreds of decisions each game. They take huge pride in their work but it is inevitable and accepted that some of their decisions will be viewed differently and debated by others. When differences of opinion however manifest as threats to our officials or their families, a line has been crossed.
"Match officials are a vital part of the game and they work exceptionally hard to maintain high standards. We all have a responsibility to support our match officials and, as previously stated, we will shortly be engaging with stakeholders to allow them to discuss issues, air concerns and propose improvements to this area of our game.
Celtic 'surprised' Morelos avoided action
Celtic have issued a statement to express their shock that Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos will avoid action for several incidents in their Old Firm defeat.
"As we look forward to 2019, I call on everyone involved in Scottish football, from the public parks to the international stage, to respect our match officials."
Celtic had previously released a statement on the SFA's decision not to further investigate Morelos over a number of incidents during the game at Ibrox.