JOHN Beaton has been appointed as the referee for the 2016 Scottish League Cup Final at Hampden Park later this month.
The current top two in the Scottish Premiership will face off at the national stadium for the first domestic prize of the campaign in the Betfred Cup on Sunday, November 27 (KO 15:00 GMT, live on BT Sport).
Dougie Potter and Michael Banks will be his assistant referees, while Don Robertson has been named as the fourth official.
Beaton, who has 15 years of senior experience and has been a Fifa official since 2012, has already handled 19 games in all competitions this season.
He has so far brandished 91 yellow cards, sent off two players and awarded some 12 penalties – more than any other Scottish official.
His most recent outing was the 1-1 draw between Hibernian and Falkirk in the Championship, in which he booked five players and sent off Bairns midfielder Tom Taiwo against his old club early on at Easter Road.
With the score goalless at Dens Park, Dundee goalkeeper David Mitchell stumbled over his goalline as he caught McDonald’s first-half cross – but neither Beaton nor assistant referee Ross Haswell signalled for a goal.
The 34-year-old has encountered both Aberdeen and Celtic twice each already in the top-flight.
He sent off Partick Thistle skipper Sean Welsh in the Dons’ 2-1 win in August, before awarding a contentious free-kick late on which led to their winning goal in their victory over Rangers a month later by the same scoreline and left Gers boss Mark Warburton raging at him on the pitch.
Meanwhile, Beaton dished out a massive 11 yellows in Celtic’s 2-1 victory at Hearts on the opening weekend and gave the hosts a dubious penalty as Jamie Walker was described as a “cheat” for taking an apparent dive.
It was a more straightforward afternoon for him when the Hoops beat Motherwell 2-0 exactly a month ago, in mid-October, but he did award Brendan Rodgers’s side a late penalty.
The two rivals, who have finished in the top two in each of the last three seasons, have also met twice this term – both ending in Celtic wins.
Bobby Madden was in the middle for their 4-1 victory at Parkhead in August, in which he sent off Dons defender Mark Reynolds and awarded the Hoops a late penalty.
While Steven McLean produced five yellow cards in a largely incident-free encounter at Pittodrie last month, in which Tom Rogic’s fine half-volley proved the difference for the visitors.
Beaton has been involved in plenty of controversial moments this season but has been rewarded for his efforts throughout his career with arguably his most high-profile appointment to date.
Earlier this term, he gave three penalties in 45 minutes to Dunfermline, all of which were saved by goalkeeper Cammy Bell in 10-man Dundee United’s 3-1 win at East End Park in the Championship.
And, in an eventful Premiership match between St Johnstone and Hearts, Beaton booked Saints strikers Chris Kane and Graham Cummins for diving and sent Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson to the stands for an apparent sarcastic clap towards him.
Beaton, from Motherwell, who first became a referee in 1997, has handled two League Cup semis, two Scottish Cup semis including one last season, and been an additional assistant referee for two Scottish Cup Finals.
But it will only be the third full game he will oversee at the national stadium, although he did take over in extra-time for Hibernian’s 4-3 Scottish Cup semi win over Falkirk in 2014 from the injured Iain Brines.
A Category One official since 2009, he has established himself as a regular in the Scottish Premiership since his first game – Dundee United’s 3-0 win over Dunfermline in March 2012.
Beaton, whose cousin Steven Nicholls is also a referee, hit the headlines last year when he was headbutted during a volatile derby in Saudi Arabia between Al Hilal and Al Nasr – during which he issued three red cards.
Beaton was an additional assistant referee as part of Willie Collum’s Scottish team of officials for two group games at Euro 2016.
He has also built up European and international refereeing experience of his own in the last few years, as one of seven Scottish officials currently on the Fifa list.
Derek McInnes, who suffered his first defeat as Dons boss against Celtic in 2013, will be hoping his side can emulate their two home wins over the Hoops last season but Celtic will be desperate to secure their first silverware under Rodgers.
Kevin Clancy, who refereed Ross County’s 2-1 win over Hibs in last season’s final, was in control of Aberdeen’s 2-0 semi-final victory against Morton while Craig Thomson oversaw Celtic’s 1-0 success over Rangers in the Old Firm derby.
This year’s League Cup Final has a pre-Christmas date for the first time since 1998, as part of the competition’s revamp this season.