NEIL Lennon last night insisted Scottish football was being 'dragged into the gutter' by the death threats aimed at referee John Beaton.

These threats are the latest in what is a worrying number of unacceptable incident in recent months, which have included the Hibernian manager being hit by a coin at the end of the Edinburgh derby.

And Lennon believes this is shaming the country, with his former teammate Chris Sutton also a target.

Lennon, speaking to the BBC, said: "It's absolutely disgraceful. I think it's dragging the name of Scottish football into the gutter.

"I've been involved in incidents like this myself - as a lot of people have been - and it just seems to be one thing after another now.

"It's shameful and my sympathies go to John and his family.

"The guy is just trying to do his job as honestly as he can so we have to address this issue.

"I've been saying for a long time now, the authorities aren't strong enough on the perpetrators of these acts. The authorities - whether it's in football or in government - need to crackdown on this.

"It's happening far too often and it's very, very distressing, not only for the individual but his loved ones and friends. It's just totally out of order.

"It's a game of football but these people need to be brought to justice and humiliated in public.

"Hopefully that will be a deterrent for anyone else thinking about doing it.

"Referees get criticised and that's fine because they will make mistakes as we all do - but don't go beyond that. It's a game of football at the end of the day.

"It's a sport that we all love and these people are darkening the image of the game. Scottish football in essence is a great public spectacle and these people are spoiling it. And it's not a minority either - my worry is that it's happening far too often now."