Scottish Premiership: Steven McLean to referee Aberdeen v Celtic

Fifa referee Steven McLean will take charge of the weekend’s first and stand-out fixture at Pittodrie as the top-flight’s top two go head to head for the second time this season.

Steven McLean referee
Reunited: It will be a first Celtic game of the season for McLean – and only his second of 2016 (Picture from Sky Sports)

REFEREE Steven McLean will take charge when Celtic visit Aberdeen in the Scottish Premiership this weekend.

The 35-year-old Fifa official will make his first trip to Pittodrie of the season as the champions look to move further clear at the top of the table this Saturday lunchtime (KO 12:00 BST, live on Sky Sports).

In their previous meeting back in August, Bobby Madden sent off Dons defender Mark Reynolds and awarded the Hoops a penalty late on in their 4-1 win at Parkhead.

McLean will encounter Celtic for the first time since he oversaw his only other match between the sides who have finished in the top two in the last three seasons earlier this year.

He gave out four yellow cards and put in a good display in Aberdeen’s 2-1 victory over Celtic at the start of February – one of two defeats the champions suffered on their trips to the Granite City last term.

Craig Thomson had a busy time last September as the Dons won by the same scoreline, awarding a spotkick for both sides and sending off Dons winger Jonny Hayes for a strong challenge on Mikael Lustig.

Other than the aforementioned Pittodrie clash, McLean also handled three more Celtic games last season – their 6-0 home win over Dundee last September, a 2-1 success at Hamilton a year ago and 2-2 draw with Hearts at Tynecastle on December 27.

Honour: McLean took charge of his first major showpiece at Hampden Park in May when turning out for the Scottish Cup Final (Picture from BBC Scotland)

Meanwhile, McLean will oversee his second Aberdeen game of the current season after their 3-1 win at Dundee in September – as the Dons’ Kenny McLean converted a penalty and Dundee’s Mark O’Hara was dismissed late on for a second bookable offence.

McLean handled seven Aberdeen games in 2015-16 but it will be his first match at Pittodrie since the end of February – a 1-1 draw with St Johnstone, in which he awarded the visitors a controversial late penalty.

The Glasgow-based whistler – who is a qualified fitness instructor – was in charge of the 2014 League Cup Final at Celtic Park when the Dons beat Inverness on penalties.

McLean then oversaw Hibernian’s dramatic 3-2 triumph over Rangers last season in the Scottish Cup Final, after which he and his fellow match officials were caught up in the unsavoury pitch invasion.

Before taking charge of the stand-out match of the weekend, he made the calls at Dens Park for bottom club Dundee’s 2-0 defeat by Partick Thistle on Wednesday night – booking six players in his sixth top-flight game this term.

Steven McLean points for goalkick (Hearts v St Johnstone - 2nd August 2015)
Siblings: Steven McLean is the older brother of former Ross County and Dundee United defender Brian McLean (Picture from BT Sport)

McLean – a Fifa referee since 2010 who refereed his first SPL game in November 2008 – has so far issued 67 yellow cards, sent off two players and awarded three penalties in 15 games this season in all competitions.

He will be assisted on Saturday by Douglas Ross, Andrew McWilliam and fourth official Kevin Clancy, who handled Aberdeen’s 2-0 League Cup semi-final win over Morton last weekend.

The eagerly-awaited contest – a dress rehearsal for next month’s Betfred Cup Final – will bring together challengers Aberdeen and leaders Celtic, who are four points clear having played two games fewer.

Elsewhere, Nick Walsh is to oversee Motherwell against Ross County, John Beaton will handle Rangers’ clash with Kilmarnock and Barry Cook has been appointed to St Johnstone against Partick Thistle.

You can see a full list of this weekend’s SPFL match official appointments here.

Scottish Premiership: John Beaton to referee Aberdeen v Rangers

John Beaton will oversee Aberdeen’s Scottish Premiership showdown with Rangers at Pittodrie, after Nick Walsh handles his first Celtic game when Kilmarnock visit Parkhead on Saturday.

John Beaton speaks with Hibernian's Fraser Fyvie against Rangers
Steady start: Beaton will take charge of his fourth Premiership game during the seventh round of fixtures (Picture from Sky Sports)

JOHN Beaton will be the referee for this weekend’s standout Scottish Premiership clash between Aberdeen and Rangers.

The 34-year-old will be in the middle when the two sides expected to challenge Celtic for the title this term meet at Pittodrie this Sunday lunchtime (KO 13:00 BST, live on Sky Sports).

He will be assisted by Dougie Potter and Andrew McWilliam, while Don Robertson, who took charge of Celtic’s 2-2 draw at Inverness last Sunday and Rangers’ 5-0 Betfred Cup win over Queen of the South on Tuesday, will be the fourth official.

Beaton will be hoping for a less eventful match than the incident-packed match he oversaw at McDiarmid Park last weekend, as St Johnstone beat Hearts 1-0.

He 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 after 76 minutes.

However Neilson, who has since avoided a touchline ban, said afterwards he felt the dismissal was more influenced by fourth official Mike Roncone, as opposed to the referee.

Opposite number Tommy Wright said he would fine the players if he agreed with Beaton’s decision but, having reviewed the footage, the club have challenged the yellow cards the two forwards received.

Role: Beaton was an additional assistant referee as part of Willie Collum’s Scottish team of officials for two group games at Euro 2016 (Picture from BBC Scotland)

Beaton will be in the middle for his 11th game of the season in all competitions – and third to be shown live on TV. He has so far brandished 53 yellow cards, two red cards and awarded eight penalties.

Earlier this month, Beaton 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.

Last month, he dished out a massive 11 yellow cards and awarded Hearts a controversial spotkick when Jamie Walker appeared to dive over Kieran Tierney in their 2-1 defeat by champions Celtic at Tynecastle on the opening weekend of the Premiership season.

The Motherwell official, who first became a referee in 1997, has officiated the 2015 Ramsdens Cup Final, two League Cup semi-finals, two Scottish Cup semis including one last season, and been an additional assistant referee for two Scottish Cup Finals.

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 – and is one of seven Scottish referees on Fifa’s international list.

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.

John Beaton explains decision (Dundee Utd v Dundee - 11th August 2015)
Occupation: Beaton, who once had ambitions to be a journalist, is now a full-time referee after giving up his day job as a communications officer at Strathclyde University (Picture from Sky Sports)

It will be the second time the Lanarkshire-based whistler will encounter both teams in 2016-17 already.

Beaton was in the middle for Aberdeen’s 2-1 win over Partick Thistle at Pittodrie on August 20, in which he sent off Thistle captain Sean Welsh who showed dissent towards him to earn a second yellow late on.

He also gave the Gers an early spotkick on their way to a 3-0 win over Stranraer at Ibrox in July’s Betfred Cup group phase in the first round.

Sunday’s televised contest will see one of Scottish football’s most intense feuds resume as the Dons and the Gers lock horns for the first time since a 1-1 draw at Ibrox in the top-flight in January 2012.

With so much time having passed, only Craig Thomson and Willie Collum have officiated a game between the sides out of the current crop of Scottish referees.

Heading into the weekend, Derek McInnes’s side and Mark Warburton’s Gers boast almost identical records – with nine points from six games – and sit fifth and sixth respectively in the table.


Nick Walsh in action (Hibernian v Alloa)
Relative rookie: Walsh is in his fourth season as a senior official and will oversee only his seventh Premiership match at Celtic Park (Picture from Sky Sports)

Nick Walsh will take charge of his first Celtic game when the champions host Kilmarnock at Parkhead on Saturday (KO 15:00 BST).

The 30-year-old is seemingly in favour with the SFA at the moment, with this his fourth top-flight refereeing appointment of the season already, having only been promoted to Category One over the summer.

But it is a reflection of his lenient and consistent start to the campaign – he has only brandished six yellow cards in his three other Premiership games, which unusually have all been won by a 2-0 scoreline.

Walsh has handled Partick Thistle’s win over Inverness on the opening weekend, Ross County’s victory over Kilmarnock on August 20 and St Johnstone’s success at Firhill a fortnight ago.

The Stirling-based whistler has also officiated six other games, including stepping in for Willie Collum in Ayr United’s 2-1 Betfred Cup win over Hamilton in July.

Establishing himself: Walsh made his Premiership debut in Ross County’s 1-0 win over Partick Thistle in April and received two more before the end of last term (Picture from BBC ALBA)

But he was public enemy number one at Easter Road last weekend as Ayr shocked Hibernian with a 2-1 victory after Hibs midfielder Marvin Bartley became his first red card victim of the season for a challenge on Jamie Adams.

The decision came at a crucial time and led Hibs boss Neil Lennon to blame what he described as “a poor refereeing performance” for the Championship title favourites’ loss.

Walsh was one of the most card-happy officials in Scotland having brandished 123 yellow cards and 14 red cards in 32 games last term, as well as awarding 10 penalties.

The Glasgow-born official was a regular in the Championship and fourth official for numerous Premiership games in the last two seasons.

But his attitude was questioned by Motherwell boss Mark McGhee, who felt his communication should have been better when in control of electronic board duties during April’s 4-1 defeat at Aberdeen.

Walsh will be assisted by Graham Chambers, Alasdair Ross and fourth official Stephen Finnie, with Willie Young keeping a close eye on his display as the SPFL referee observer.

He has so far stayed under the spotlight in his top-flight assignments but could be in for a tougher afternoon with more focus on the champions and every call under close scrutiny.

Despite leading the table by three points, Brendan Rodgers’s Celtic will want to bounce back after losing their 100 per cent league record in last weekend’s 2-2 draw at Inverness.

Meanwhile, Lee Clark’s Kilmarnock, who survived the play-offs last season, sit ninth heading into the weekend with six points from as many games and will hope to replicate their goalless draw in Glasgow last term.

You can view the rest of this weekend’s SPFL match official appointments here.

Craig Thomson to referee Scottish Cup Edinburgh derby

Craig Thomson will take charge of his sixth Edinburgh derby when capital rivals Hearts and Hibernian lock horns for a place in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals at Tynecastle on Sunday.

Craig Thomson (League Cup semi Ross County v Celtic - 31st Jan 2016)
Close to home: Thomson was born in Edinburgh and grew up in the capital before moving north to Renfrewshire (Picture from BBC Scotland)

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.

Craig Thomson sends off Efe Ambrose (v Ross County)
Seeing red: Thomson gave Ambrose his marching orders after 13 minutes before County converted the resulting penalty (Picture from BBC Scotland)

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.

Craig Thomson (Dundee Utd v Celtic Scottish Cup - 8th Mar 15)
Last round: Thomson was in control of Partick Thistle’s 2-1 win over St Mirren in his home town of Paisley (Picture from Sky Sports)

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.

Craig Thomson referee
For the big occasion: Thomson has handled three League Cup and three Scottish Cup finals as well as several semi-finals in both competitions (Picture from Sky Sports)

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.

Craig Thomson Edinburgh derby record (as of 2nd February 2016)

Given his history in this particular fixture, the appointment has not been welcomed by both sets of supporters…

Bobby Madden to referee Dundee United v Celtic

Bobby Madden will referee Celtic’s Scottish Premiership visit to bottom-club Dundee United on Friday night in a televised Tannadice clash (KO 19:45 GMT).

Bobby Madden in charge (Rangers v St Mirren - 28th Nov 2015)
Man in the middle: Madden will take charge of his 13th Premiership match – and first at Tannadice – this season (Picture from BBC ALBA)

BOBBY Madden will be the referee for Celtic’s televised Scottish Premiership match against Dundee United on Friday night (KO 19:45 GMT).

The 37-year-old will take charge as the leaders take on the bottom club at Tannadice, live on BT Sport, to kick start the second round of top-flight fixtures in 2016.

He will be assisted on Tayside by linesmen Andrew McWilliam and Ralph Gordon while the fourth official will be Alan Newlands.

Madden has not officiated a game since December 30 when he sent off United defender Mark Durnan – and awarded both sides a penalty – in their 3-2 defeat at Hearts after Dundee’s Scottish Cup tie with Falkirk was postponed twice due to the incessant rain.

The Fifa official has handled 22 games this season across six competitions – brandishing 82 yellow cards, sending off six players and awarding eight penalties.

His season highlights so far include three Europa League group stage matches, the Euro 2016 qualifier between Russia and Liechtenstein and the Petrofac Training Cup semi-final between Rangers and St Mirren at Ibrox.

East Kilbride-born Madden has previously officiated two matches involving Dundee United and Celtic – a 6-2 win for the Hoops at Parkhead in 2013 and last season’s League Cup Final.

Bobby Madden referee
Last time: Madden sent off Dundee United captain Sean Dillon in their 2-0 defeat to Celtic at Hampden Park last March – his first major final as a referee (Picture from BBC Scotland)

For the third successive meeting, the two sides will face off at Tannadice – the other two were refereed by Willie Collum, including Celtic’s 3-1 win back in August.

Madden has already encountered the champions twice in 2015-16 – home league games against Kilmarnock and Motherwell in November and December respectively.

Aside from the game at Tynecastle at the end of 2015, he has also controlled two other United matches – their 2-0 win at Motherwell in August and 2-1 defeat at St Johnstone in September, which brought an end to Jackie McNamara’s two-and-a-half year tenure as manager.

Since Mixu Paatelainen was appointed, Dundee United have won just once in the league and sit 11 points adrift of second-bottom Kilmarnock.

Celtic – chasing a fifth successive Scottish Premiership title – are three points clear of second-placed Aberdeen with a game in hand.

Both sides come into the match after progressing to the Scottish Cup fifth round by beating League One opponents last weekend – Celtic 3-0 winners at Stranraer and Dundee United edging past Airdrieonians 1-0.

Other SPL Appointments (weekend 15th to 17th Jan 2016)
Euan Anderson will take charge of his fifth top-flight of the season at Firhill while Andrew Dallas will make a second trip to McDiarmid Park this term

Elsewhere, the experienced Crawford Allan will take charge of Aberdeen’s Scottish Premiership encounter at Ross County on Sunday.

The 48-year-old – who is also the chairman of the Scottish Senior Football Referees Association – will be assisted at the Global Energy Arena by Willie Conquer and Michael Banks while Nick Walsh will be on electronic board duties.

Allan has refereed 18 games in all competitions this term – issuing 52 yellow cards, three red cards and awarding eight penalties.

He has previously officiated both clubs twice already in 2015-16 – including two trips to Dingwall for County’s home wins over Dundee and Motherwell, and Aberdeen’s 1-0 win over Hamilton and 1-1 draw with Motherwell, both at Pittodrie.

Crawford Allan referee (Alloa Athletic v Rangers - 16th August 2015)
Seasoned campaigner: Allan has overseen over 200 games since being promoted to the Scottish top-flight in 2005 (Picture from BT Sport)

Calum Murray in charge of Tynecastle send-off

Calum Murray will be the referee as Scottish Championship winners Hearts prepare to lift the trophy after their final-day encounter with Rangers at Tynecastle on Saturday.

Calum Murray blows his whistle (Inverness v Aberdeen - 28th Dec 2014)
Dropping down: It will be Murray’s ninth match in the second tier this season (Picture from BT Sport)

REFEREE Calum Murray will take charge of the Scottish Championship clash between champions Hearts and third-placed Rangers on the final day of the season.

The 47-year-old has been chosen as the man in the middle on Saturday when Robbie Neilson’s Jambos host a Gers side who are seeking to pip Hibernian into second place in their last home game of their promotion campaign.

He will be assisted in Gorgie by linesmen Graeme Stewart and Andrew McWilliam while the fourth official is Bobby Madden – who will oversee Celtic’s Premiership match with Dundee on Friday night.

Hearts – who gained promotion back to the top-flight at the first time of asking last month – will lift the trophy after the televised lunchtime game at Tynecastle.

Murray has handled 34 games in all competitions so far this season – brandishing 112 yellow cards, sending off eight players and awarding five penalties in total.

The experienced Edinburgh-based whistler – who has only received 11 Premiership games this season – will take charge of his fifth Hearts game of the campaign but the first since their 2-1 win at Falkirk in mid-November.

His only two Rangers matches came against their play-off rivals Falkirk and Hibernian within the first month of the season.

Calum Murray referee
Reunion: Murray will take charge of both Hearts and Rangers for the first time in 2015 (Picture from BBC ALBA)

Murray – who has refereed three Celtic games since the start of March including their 2-1 win at Dundee last week – is no stranger to a fixture involving Hearts and Rangers.

He oversaw three league encounters between the sides when they were both last in the top-flight in 2011/12 including a 1-1 draw at Ibrox on the opening weekend.

The systems developer – who is the oldest of the current match officials in Scotland – has issued five red cards in his last nine games.

Murray began 2014/15 at Tynecastle in the Petrofac Training Cup as he oversaw Hearts’ 3-1 win over Annan in the first round of the competition.

It is thought that he could retire at the end of the current season although Murray continues to be a fit and capable official who once competed with Craig Thomson and Willie Collum to receive the high-profile appointments.

Thomson oversaw Hearts’ 2-1 win at Ibrox on the opening weekend and their 2-0 victory at Tynecastle in November in which he sent off Gers full-back Stevie Smith in the first half.

Sunday’s fourth official Madden was in control of the clash earlier this month as Rangers ran out 2-1 winners despite the red card shown to captain Lee McCulloch.

Calum Murray referee Old Firm derby (29th April 2012)
Coming up: Murray will also referee the Premiership catch-up match between Inverness and Dundee United in the Highlands next Tuesday night (Picture from Sky Sports)

Murray has been officiating in the Scottish top-flight since 2000 and was a Fifa referee for eight years until reaching the mandatory retirement age in 2013.

He took charge of the 2008 Ramsdens Cup Final at St Johnstone’s McDiarmid Park when Airdrie beat Ross County on penalties and the 2011 Scottish Cup Final as Celtic beat Motherwell 3-0 at Hampden Park.

In what could be Stuart McCall’s final game as manager, Rangers will claim second spot with a win if Hibernian fail to beat Scottish Cup finalists Falkirk away from home.

Three points for Hearts – who have won four of their six league games since their promotion was confirmed – would see the capital club end the campaign with 93 points as well as 30 wins from 36 matches this term.

The 12:15 BST kick-off – which was moved back 24 hours following complaints from Hibs and Hearts that it would impact on “sporting integrity” – will be shown live on Sky Sports 3.

Steven McLean appointed to League Cup Final

Steven McLean will officiate the Scottish Communities League Cup final on 19 March between Aberdeen and Inverness at Celtic Park.

Steven McLean referee
Milestone: McLean will take charge of his first major final in his refereeing career (Picture from Sky Sports)

STEVEN McLean has been selected as the referee for the Scottish Communities League Cup final between Aberdeen and Inverness Caledonian Thistle next month.

The 32-year-old will be the man in the middle for the March 16 showpiece at Celtic Park, his first national final.

McLean, the older brother of Ross County defender Brian, will be assisted by linesmen Andrew McWilliam and Douglas Ross while John Beaton is the fourth official.

The Dons thrashed St Johnstone to reach their first major cup final in 14 years while the Highlanders beat Hearts on penalties in the semi-finals.

A Category One official in Scotland since 2007, McLean’s burgeoning reputation received continental recognition when named a FIFA referee in 2010 and UEFA Category One listed official a year later.

McLean officiated at the 2011 UEFA Under-17 European Championships in Serbia, taking charge of three matches including the semi-final clash between Denmark and Germany.

His only notable domestic appointment came in January 2012 when overseeing the League Cup semi-final between local rivals Ayr United and Kilmarnock at Hampden Park.

McLean has taken charge of 30 games in all competitions so far this season, dishing out 79 yellows and four red cards, including a first Europa League appointment in December.

Having attracted criticism for handing out 12 red cards in 2011/12, McLean flourished last season and was entrusted with his first Highland derby and Edinburgh derby clashes.

He also took charge of the Division One play-off semi-final first leg between Alloa and Dunfermline Athletic at Recreation Park in May.

The appointment has been made despite the fact McLean, who is also an SFA referee recruitment and education manager along with Craig Thomson, has already taken charge of both participating teams five times already this term.

The showpiece will be held at Celtic’s Parkhead, which holds 60,000 supporters, as the national stadium hosts the Commonwealth Games.

The allocated seating plan for the stadium was announced last week with 40,000 fans expected to attend.

The all-Scottish Premiership final, with kick-off scheduled for 14:30 GMT, will be screened live on BBC1 Scotland on Sunday 16 March.






10 August 2013

Scottish Premiership

Dundee United 0-1 Inverness CT


31 August 2013

Scottish Premiership

Aberdeen 0-0 St Johnstone


14 September 2013

Scottish Premiership

Kilmarnock 1-2 Inverness CT

Rugby Park

25 September 2013

Scottish League Cup

Falkirk 0-5 Aberdeen

The Falkirk Stadium

5 October 2013

Scottish Premiership

St Johnstone 4-0 Inverness CT

McDiarmid Park

26 October 2013

Scottish Premiership

Hibernian 0-2 Aberdeen

Easter Road

2 November 2013

Scottish Premiership

Inverness CT 2-1 Kilmarnock

The Tulloch Caledonian Stadium

21 December 2013

Scottish Premiership

Inverness CT 3-4 Aberdeen

The Tulloch Caledonian Stadium

25 January 2014

Scottish Premiership

Motherwell 2-2 Aberdeen

Fir Park

Referee Calum Murray to take charge of Aberdeen v Celtic

The experienced Edinburgh whistler takes charge when the champions visit Pittodrie on Saturday lunchtime.

Calum Murray referee
Overlooked: The experienced Edinburgh whistler has largely been out of favour in the SPL with more outings in the lower divisions (Picture from BBC ALBA)

REFEREE Calum Murray will be the man in the middle for the Scottish Premiership encounter between Aberdeen and Celtic this weekend.

The 46-year-old will oversee proceedings as Derek McInnes’s new-look Dons take on the champions in an eagerly-anticipated clash in Saturday’s televised lunchtime kick-off at Pittodrie in week three of the 2013-14 campaign.

Aberdeen have impressively won both of their opening matches at home to Kilmarnock and away to Motherwell, while Celtic started their title defence with a late 2-1 victory over Ross County at Celtic Park in their only fixture so far due to their participation in last weekend’s glamour friendly with Liverpool in Dublin.

It will be Murray’s third appointment of the campaign having officiated Rangers’ shock 2-1 defeat to Forfar Athletic at Station Park in the Scottish League Cup first round and Dumbarton’s 1-1 Scottish Championship draw with Falkirk last weekend, handing out three yellow cards in each game.

Murray – a FIFA referee between 2005 and 2012 before reaching the automatic retirement age – was the referee when the sides met on the opening day last term as Celtic won 1-0 courtesy of Kris Commons’ late winner in Glasgow and oversaw the Bhoys’ 1-0 victory in the North East two seasons ago.

In addition to August’s clash with the Dons, he oversaw four other Celtic games in 2012-13 – a 5-0 victory at St Mirren in October, 1-0 defeat to Inverness in November, 2-0 home win over St Mirren in December and 4-1 triumph against Kilmarnock in January at Parkhead.

His further two Aberdeen matches were their 2-1 win over Hibernian in September and 2-0 success against Dundee at home in October.

Overall, the Scottish whistler – who has been a Category One official since 2000 – took charge of 29 matches in all competitions last season, dishing out 83 yellow cards and six red cards as well as giving four penalties.

Due to the rise of younger officials such as the promising John Beaton, Steven McLean and Bobby Madden, Murray – whose strengths include a reluctance to use cards and a calmness under pressure – was restricted to just 13 SPL matches last season, with 32 yellow cards and two red cards brandished and a solitary penalty awarded.

He will be assisted by linesmen Andrew McWilliam and Graham Chambers, while David Somers has been assigned the role of fourth official.

The match will be broadcast live on BT Sport 2 on Saturday, 17th August, with a 12:30pm kick-off at Pittodrie.