CRAIG Thomson has been confirmed as the referee for the Scottish Cup semi-final between Rangers and Celtic on Sunday, April 17.
The 43-year-old will take charge of the eagerly-awaited Old Firm clash between the Glasgow rivals at Hampden Park (KO 12:00 BST).
He will be assisted by linesmen Alan Mulvanny and Douglas Ross, fourth official Bobby Madden and additional assistant referees Kevin Clancy and Don Robertson.
Thomson also officiated the League Cup semi-final last season which was the first meeting between the sides in three years, when Celtic won 2-0 in a largely incident-free encounter.
The longest-serving of the current crop of Scottish officials, he has a wealth of experience having handled 11 previous Old Firm derbies, with the first coming in April 2006.
Those past encounters include the 2011 League Cup Final at the national stadium in which the Paisley lawyer dismissed Celtic defender Emilio Izaguirre for a professional foul and overturned a penalty given to the Gers, who won 2-1 after extra time.
It will be his 16th domestic match at Hampden Park and ninth cup semi-final – a first in the Scottish Cup since Celtic’s 4-3 win over Dundee United in 2013.
Thomson – who has handled three Scottish Cup and three League Cup finals – was in the middle for Celtic’s 3-1 League Cup semi defeat by Ross County in January, in which he sent off Efe Ambrose early on.
The Renfrewshire whistler – who was overlooked for Euro 2016, with Willie Collum preferred instead – has awarded more penalties (17) than any other Scottish official so far this season.
He has also distributed an astonishing 149 yellow cards – and eight reds – in 37 matches in all competitions.
It will be the seventh time that Thomson oversees Celtic this term, while he has only encountered Rangers in their 4-1 Championship win over Livingston in January when he awarded them two penalties.
Meanwhile, John Beaton will take charge of the other semi-final between Hibernian and Dundee United.
He will be in the middle as Championship side Hibs tussle with the Premiership’s bottom club at the national stadium on Saturday, April 16 (KO 12:15 BST).
Beaton will be working alongside Graham Chambers and Stuart Stevenson, with Euan Anderson the fourth official – as he was for a League Cup semi in January. The goal-line officials are Andrew Dallas and Alan Muir.
Incidentally, Muir was behind the goal in the Scottish Cup semi 12 months ago when a handball on the line by Inverness’ Josh Meekings went unspotted in their controversial 3-2 extra-time win over Celtic.
He was also the fourth official when Hibs beat Falkirk 4-3 in the Scottish Cup semis in 2013 but ended up refereeing the extra-time period after Iain Brines came off injured.
Beaton oversaw a League Cup semi-final in 2014, sending off two Inverness players as Caley Thistle beat Hearts on penalties at Hibs’ Easter Road stadium.
It will be the fifth time that the Lanarkshire whistler will oversee both Dundee United and Hearts in all competitions this term.
The 34-year-old was in the middle for the 2015 Challenge Cup Final – his only major final to date – but was fourth official for the 2014 League Cup Final and an additional assistant for the 2013 Scottish Cup Final.
Beaton will also be going to Euro 2016 as a goal-line official as part of Willie Collum’s team of officials for the summer tournament in France.
Thomson and Beaton handled both Edinburgh derby meetings between Hibs and Hearts in the quarter-finals, with Beaton sending off two players in the Easter Road replay which Hibs won 1-0.
Two-time winners Hibs have not lifted the Scottish Cup since 1902 as they bid to reach their second major cup final of the season after losing 2-1 to Ross County in the League Cup showpiece last month.
Dundee United have also won the competition twice but were runners-up in 2014 after losing 2-0 to St Johnstone in the final at Celtic Park. They last reached the semi stage three years ago.
Rangers – who have not won the Scottish Cup since 2009 – have secured promotion to the Scottish Premiership in boss Mark Warburton’s debut season to ensure the Old Firm derby returns to the top-flight next season.
Premiership leaders Celtic are bidding to reach their first Scottish Cup final since 2013 in Ronny Deila’s second campaign in charge.
Both ties will be screened live on Sky Sports, while Hibs v Dundee United will also be shown on BBC Scotland.