CRAIG Thomson will be the man in charge for the Scottish Cup fifth round tie between Edinburgh rivals Hearts and Hibernian this weekend.
The 43-year-old will oversee the marquee tie of the round when the Premiership club welcome the League Cup finalists to Tynecastle on Sunday lunchtime (KO 12:30 GMT, live on Sky Sports 2).
He will be assisted by linesmen Frank Connor and Andrew McWilliam, while Kevin Clancy – who refereed the last meeting between the sides – is the fourth official.
The vastly-experienced Thomson, from Renfrewshire, will handle his sixth Edinburgh derby in total and first since August 2013.
He has officiated 28 games in all competitions so far this season – brandishing 119 yellow cards, sending off six players and awarding 14 penalties.
The Paisley-based whistler was in the middle for Ross County’s 3-1 win over Celtic in last weekend’s eventful League Cup semi-final at Hampden Park.
He sent off Celtic defender Efe Ambrose for a last-man foul on Alex Schalk and pointed to the spot, but allowed Paul Quinn’s goal to stand despite an apparent foul by Schalk on Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon in the build-up.
County substitute Brian Graham was also harshly penalised for handball in the box for Leigh Griffiths’ missed penalty late on.
Thomson will oversee his fourth Hearts match of the campaign after their 2-1 win at Dundee in August, 3-2 League Cup victory at Kilmarnock in September and 1-0 defeat by Aberdeen in December, in which he penalised Jordon McGhee’s inexplicable handball for the late Dons spotkick.
His only Hibernian game of 2015-16 was their 2-1 Championship win over Livingston at Easter Road in November.
Thomson will be remembered by fans of both clubs for taking charge of the 2012 Scottish Cup Final, during which he dismissed Hibs defender Pa Kujabi for a second yellow card and awarded Hearts a penalty for a foul which took place outside the box, with the score at 2-1.
Danny Grainger went on to convert the spotkick as Hearts ran out eventual 5-1 winners at the national stadium, with Thomson attracting criticism from the Hibs contingent for what they felt was a poor all-round display from the official.
Thomson, who was a construction lawyer before becoming a full-time official, is the most experienced of the current crop of Scottish referees having first taken up the whistle in 1988.
After two years in the Scottish Football League, he was promoted to the top-flight in 2002 and was elevated to the Fifa list just a year later.
Thomson was called up for the 2012 European Championships – his only major international tournament – but was overlooked for the 2014 World Cup and Willie Collum has been preferred as Scotland’s representative at Euro 2016.
Hibernian won 1-0 at Easter Road in a fourth round tie in December 2012 when the two fierce rivals previously met in the Scottish Cup.
The Leith outfit also won 2-0 in the last meeting in the Championship last April although Hearts had already won the second-tier title.
Ahead of the 326th competitive derby, Hearts are third in the Premiership while Hibs sit eight points adrift of Championship leaders Rangers in second place.
Given his history in this particular fixture, the appointment has not been welcomed by both sets of supporters…