Willie Collum to referee Celtic’s league opener

Willie Collum will oversee Celtic’s opener against Ross County as the match official appointments are announced for the opening weekend of the 2015-16 Scottish Premiership season.

Willie Collum referee (Scottish Cup Final - 30th May 2015)
Familiar face: Collum will oversee his first Celtic match since their 3-0 win over Dundee United at Tannadice in April (Picture from Sky Sports)

REFEREE Willie Collum will take charge when Celtic start the defence of their Scottish Premiership title against Ross County this weekend. 

The 36-year-old will be in the middle for the first game of the new 2015-16 Ladbrokes Premiership campaign this Saturday lunchtime in Glasgow (KO 12:45pm, live on Sky Sports 1).

He will be assisted by linesmen Frank Connor and Alan Mulvanny while the fourth official will be Stephen Finnie at Celtic Park, where the championship flag will be raised before kick-off.

Glasgow-born Collum – a father to three daughters and Religious Education teacher from Belshill – is already enduring a busy start to the new season.

He stood in as a late replacement for Craig Thomson at Easter Road on Saturday to referee the Petrofac Training Cup 1st round tie between Hibernian and Rangers – handing out four yellow cards and awarding Hibs a spotkick in their emphatic 6-2 defeat.

Just 24 hours later, Collum was back in the middle for a pre-season friendly at Tynecastle between Hearts and Everton and infuriated the hosts after awarding the visitors, who went onto win 3-1, the first of two spotkicks for an apparent handball on the goalline by Alim Ozturk.

Willie Collum gives Everton a penalty (v Hearts pre-season 26th July 2015)
Penalty: Collum points to the spot much to the dismay of Hearts skipper Ozturk after the Turk was adjudged to have handled Gareth Barry’s goalbound shot (Picture from Hearts TV)

On Wednesday, the Uefa Elite Category official will take charge of Ajax’s trip to Austrian side Rapid Vienna in the first leg of their Champions League third qualifying round clash.

Earlier this month, Collum was confirmed as the man in charge for the prestigious European curtain-raiser between La Liga rivals Barcelona and Sevilla in the Uefa Super Cup in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi on August 11.

He oversaw five Celtic games in all competitions last term – Scottish Cup and Scottish League Cup ties against Hearts, league games at home to Kilmarnock and Partick Thistle as well as their 3-0 win at Dundee United in April when he awarded the Hoops a dubious penalty.

Collum encountered Ross County four times in the Premiership – the first when he sent off their defender Uros Celcer and gave Hamilton two penalties in a 4-0 defeat at New Douglas Park in August, followed by incident-free games against Aberdeen and Motherwell before their 3-0 win at 10-man St Mirren in April.

Domestically, the Lanarkshire whistler was in charge of the 2012 League Cup Final at Hampden Park when Celtic surprisingly lost to Kilmarnock, the 2013 Scottish Cup Final between Hibernian and Celtic before returning at the end of last term for the 2015 Scottish Cup showpiece as Inverness beat 10-man Falkirk.

As well as officiating several cup semi-finals, he was also on fourth official duties for the 2011 League Cup Final and 2012 Scottish Cup Final.

Willie Collum referee (Hibs v Rangers Challenge Cup - 25th July 2015)
Stepping in: Collum was due to officiate Dundee United’s friendly against Watford on Saturday but was instead called upon at Easter Road (Picture from BBC ALBA)

Last season, he issued a massive 144 yellow cards, sent off 17 players and awarded 22 penalties across 49 games in all competitions.

Collum is widely renowned for issuing plenty of cards in domestic games – despite his reluctance to do so in European outings – and is often the centre of controversy but is regarded as a fit and highly rated official who tends to get the big decisions right.

12 months ago, John Beaton was the referee for Celtic’s 3-0 victory over 10-man St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park in their first league fixture of 2014-15 and under new boss Ronny Deila.

But there will be a sense of deja vu for Collum, who was also in charge of a 2-1 Celtic win over Ross County on the opening day two years ago in an evening kick-off at Parkhead.

Indeed, the Hoops are seeking to win their opening league fixture for the eighth successive season as they launch their quest for five titles in a row for the first time since the 1970s.


ELSEWHERE THIS WEEKEND….

On Saturday, Bobby Madden will oversee Kilmarnock’s opener against Dundee at Rugby Park, Brian Colvin is the referee for Hamilton v Partick Thistle and Inverness’s clash with Motherwell in the Highlands will be officiated by Crawford Allan.

On Sunday, promoted Hearts’ opener against St Johnstone at Tynecastle in the lunchtime kick-off (12:30pm, live on BT Sport 1) will be refereed by Steven McLean.

Kevin Clancy referee (Ross County v Celtic - 24th Jan 2015)
Rapid rise: The 31-year-old has been a Fifa-listed referee since 2012 – in the same year he became a Category One official in Scotland (Picture from Sky Sports)

Later in the day, Kevin Clancy has been assigned to the New Firm derby between Dundee United and Aberdeen at Tannadice (KO 3:30pm, live on Sky Sports).

Clancy will also be on Europa League duty in the Netherlands on Thursday night for the third qualifying round first leg match between AZ Alkmaar and Istanbul BB.

SPFL Matchday One 2015-16 Referee Appointments
Opening round: The first referee appointments of the 2015-16 Ladbrokes Premiership season in Scotland (Picture from SFA)

Click here for a full list of match official appointments

 

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