WILLIE Collum will be the man in the middle for Rangers’ Scottish Premiership match with Inverness Caley Thistle on Friday night.
The Euro 2016 whistler will make the decisions as the Gers kick start the top-flight weekend in the Highlands in front of the BT Sport cameras (KO 19:45 BST).
It will be his first game involving the Glasgow side since their 5-1 hammering by Celtic in last month’s Old Firm derby.
Although Collum was widely regarded to have had a good game, Mark Warburton was frustrated by what he felt was a clear second yellow card for Celtic’s Mikael Lustig for a crunching challenge on Barrie McKay.
One of his two red cards was shown to Philippe Senderos on his Gers debut for two bookable offences at Celtic Park, with the other in Napoli’s 2-1 victory at Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League group stages.
As was the case for the Old Firm, his assistants at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium will be Fifa-listed duo Frank Connor and Douglas Ross, with Steven Reid on fourth official duties.
It’s been a typically busy start to the campaign for the 37-year-old, who has handled 13 games in all competitions this season – brandishing 44 yellow cards and awarding four penalties.
He had a couple of tough decisions to make in St Mirren’s 2-1 win at Hibernian in the Irn Bru Cup fourth round last weekend – awarding a dubious free-kick for Saints’ equaliser before overruling an offside flag for David Clarkson’s late winner.
As the Religious Education teacher prepares for his sixth Premiership game of the campaign, he has awarded penalties in his previous two top-flight games – for Motherwell in their 4-2 derby win over Hamilton and, controversially, Aberdeen in their 4-0 victory at Kilmarnock.
Collum was slated by fans on social media after harshly penalising Jamie MacDonald for a perceived foul on James Maddison, which led to the Dons’ opening goal at Rugby Park.
He oversaw the biggest game in Inverness’ history in their 2015 Scottish Cup Final victory over Falkirk, despite sending off Caley Thistle defender Carl Tremarco for hauling down Blair Alston on 75 minutes.
The Lanarkshire official became more lenient last term, with his card count coming down as he enjoyed another busy campaign with 49 matches in total – including the prestigious Uefa Super Cup in Tbilisi.
Collum will make his first trip to Inverness since enduring a difficult night in February in the hosts’ 3-1 win over Aberdeen, who he upset in particular for awarding a controversial penalty against Ash Taylor.
It was one of several high-profile blunders which led to him being dropped from officiating Premiership fixtures for several weeks, but he responded positively at the Euros in France in the summer.
Father-of-three Collum, who has been a Fifa referee since 2006, went as Scotland’s only representative for his first major international tournament as a referee and left filled with pride in his team’s performances.
He officiated Turkey’s 2-0 win over the Czech Republic and France’s 2-0 victory against Albania – brandishing eight yellow cards, no reds and awarding no penalties before being sent home after the group stages.
Collum will be hoping to avoid more negative headlines – the same fate suffered by Don Robertson when the other half of the Old Firm, Celtic, visited Inverness last month.
Caley Thistle skipper Richie Foran criticised Robertson’s failure to send off Erik Sviatchenko for what he thought was a last-man foul on Ross Draper in their 2-2 draw against the champions.
Fifth-placed Rangers, who trail leaders Celtic by seven points, could go joint second before their rivals play on Saturday but eighth-placed Inverness can move level on points with the Gers with a win.
You can see the rest of the SPFL match official appointments for the weekend here.