Who will take charge of the Scottish Cup semi-finals?

The match officials have been revealed for the Motherwell v Aberdeen and Celtic v Rangers ties at Hampden Park on 14 and 15 April respectively.

Consistent: Bobby Madden (left) and Kevin Clancy have been two of the top performing officials in Scotland and Europe this season (Pictures from Sky Sports)

The match official appointments have been made for the semi-finals of the 2017-18 William Hill Scottish Cup at Hampden Park.

Bobby Madden will take charge of the eagerly anticipated Old Firm derby clash between holders Celtic and Rangers on Sunday, April 15. Kick-off will be at 14:30 BST and the game will be screened live on Sky Sports.

Meanwhile, Kevin Clancy will be in the middle for Motherwell against Aberdeen on Saturday, April 14. The 12:15 BST kick-off will be shown live on Sky Sports and BBC One Scotland.


BOBBY GETS THE BIG ONE

Referee Bobby Madden
Tough times: Madden bravely battled thyroid cancer back in 2016 (Picture from Sky Sports)

It was always going to be interesting to see who would be selected to officiate what is always likely to be an explosive affair, as the two Glasgow giants go head to head for a place in the final.

With Willie Collum taking charge of the most recent Old Firm clash, in the league at Ibrox last month, he was seemingly out of the equation, while Craig Thomson handled two recent semi-final showdowns between the sides in the cups – and the first league encounter this season.

Aside from Scottish football’s two leading referees, it didn’t leave many options who have significant experience of this most tempestuous of fixtures.

Referee Willie Collum
Man in black: The Euro 2016 whistler sent off Celtic defender Jozo Simunovic in the Hoops’ 3-2 league win at Ibrox on 11 March (Picture from Sky Sports)

Andrew Dallas is yet to receive his Old Firm derby initiation but, although he is making considerable progress, it would have been a huge gamble to appoint him to an occasion with so much riding on it, and unfair on the official himself to effectively throw him into the deep end on the big stage.

Kevin Clancy is also awaiting his first taste of one of the fiercest rivalries in world football, while John Beaton was eased into the spotlight when handed the final league derby of last season – awarding a penalty inside six minutes as Celtic cruised to a 5-1 victory at Ibrox almost 12 months ago.

With two Old Firm derbies already under his belt, it left last season’s Scottish Cup final official Madden as the main contender for the role and he has now been duly appointed – a wise move given what’s at stake.

Not only is it another feather in his cap, it is also more vital experience of the biggest of games that every referee in Scotland wants to officiate for the highly-rated 39-year-old – and his first Old Firm derby away from Parkhead.

Referee Bobby Madden
Bookings: Madden has brandished six yellow cards in each of his two Old Firm derbies so far (Picture from Sky Sports)

The Fifa whistler caused outrage among Celtic fans when he waved away claims for a penalty in the last minute of last season’s 1-1 draw, after Leigh Griffiths fell under a challenge from Clint Hill.

But he had a solid game when the sides played out a goalless draw just after Christmas in the league.

Madden booked two players and performed well as Celtic beat Aberdeen 2-1 in the 2017 Scottish Cup final at Hampden to complete a domestic treble without losing a game.

That was his second major domestic final at the national stadium after handling Celtic’s 2-0 win over Dundee United in the 2015 League Cup final, in which he sent off United skipper Sean Dillon early in the second half.

The East Kilbride official has refereed 35 games so far this season across six different competitions – dishing out 116 bookings and five red cards, as well as awarding 12 penalties.

Madden was in the middle for Northern Ireland’s recent 2-1 international friendly win over South Korea and his most recent outing was Hibernian’s 1-1 draw at Ross County in the Scottish Premiership last weekend, in which he booked two players.

He will be assisted on the day by David McGeachie and Graeme Stewart. Don Robertson and Nick Walsh will act as additional assistants behind each goal, while Steven McLean is the fourth official.


RECENT OLD FIRM DERBY REFEREES:

11 Mar 2018: Rangers 2 Celtic 3 (Scottish Premiership) – Willie Collum
30 Dec 2017: Celtic 0 Rangers 0 (Scottish Premiership) – Bobby Madden
23 Sept 2017: Rangers 0 Celtic 2 (Scottish Premiership) – Craig Thomson
29 April 2017: Rangers 1 Celtic 5 (Scottish Premiership) – John Beaton
23 April 2017: Celtic 2 Rangers 0 (Scottish Cup) – Willie Collum
12 March 2017: Celtic 1 Rangers 1 (Scottish Premiership) – Bobby Madden
31 Dec 2016: Rangers 1 Celtic 2 (Scottish Premiership) – Steven McLean
23 Oct 2016: Rangers 0 Celtic 1 (Scottish League Cup) – Craig Thomson
10 Sept 2016: Celtic 5 Rangers 1 (Scottish Premiership) – Willie Collum


SOCIAL MEDIA REACTION

Perhaps predictably, there was a largely negative reaction to news of Madden’s appointment for the Scottish Cup semi-final blockbuster, with many fans from both sides of the derby divide taking to Twitter to have their say…


MORE RECOGNITION FOR CLANCY

Kevin Clancy referee
Established: Clancy continues to make giant strides and is always in contention to officiate the big games in Scotland (Picture from Sky Sports)

Clancy has been chosen to take charge of the first of the two semi-final ties – another sign of his excellent progress and how well-regarded he is by the Scottish FA.

He also took charge of a League Cup semi-final earlier in the season, awarding Hibernian a contentious penalty which gave them brief hope in their 4-2 defeat against Celtic back in October.

His other major match at Hampden Park was the 2016 Scottish League Cup final, booking two players as Ross County scored late on to lift the trophy for the first time with a 2-1 victory over Hibernian.

Clancy was recently subjected to a barrage of abuse from Hibs head coach Neil Lennon after sending him to the stand in the Edinburgh side’s 2-2 draw against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park, following the award of a controversial penalty to Killie in the second half.

It led to Lennon slamming the refereeing standards in Scotland and claiming that managers should be able to send off officials. His comments and furious reaction led to him being given a three-match touchline ban.

Referee Kevin Clancy
On screen: Clancy has been a regular in front of the television cameras in Scottish football this season (Picture from Sky Sports)

It’s been another season in which the 34-year-old Fifa official has made giant strides, overseeing UEFA Youth League games, Europa League qualifiers, Euro Under-19 Championship qualifiers and European Under-21 Championship qualifiers.

On the domestic front, he also took charge of Motherwell’s 3-0 League Cup quarter-final triumph over Aberdeen and the Scottish Cup fourth-round tie between Edinburgh rivals Hearts and Hibernian.

Clancy has officiated 36 games in all competitions so far in 2017/18, brandishing a massive 153 yellow cards and sending off five players, as well as pointing to the penalty spot six times.

His most recent outing was in Dundee’s 1- 1 draw with Hearts at Dens Park on 1 April. He had a busy first half in particular, booking six players including Hearts striker Kyle Lafferty for diving but he has since had his yellow card rescinded.

He will be assisted on the day by Douglas Ross MP and David Roome, with Greg Aitken on electronic board duties as the fourth official. Andrew Dallas and Alan Muir will be the additional assistant referees.


HAVE YOUR SAY…

We’re down to the final four in the world’s oldest cup competition but who do you think will make it back to Hampden for the final on Saturday 19 May?

Cast your vote now in the poll…

Scottish Premiership: Willie Collum to referee Motherwell v Rangers

Willie Collum will take charge of Saturday’s lunchtime encounter at Fir Park, with Bobby Madden appointed to Celtic’s televised match against Hearts on Sunday.

willie-collum-referee-albion-rovers-v-celtic-22nd-jan-2017
Solid: Collum issued just one yellow card and was on top of proceedings during Celtic’s 3-0 Scottish Cup win at Albion Rovers last weekend (Picture from Sky Sports)

WILLIE Collum will be the referee for Rangers’ televised Scottish Premiership match at Motherwell on Saturday.

The Euro 2016 official, who turned 38 last week, will be in the middle as the Gers make the trip to Fir Park for the lunchtime game live on Sky Sports (KO 12:45 GMT).

He will be assisted by David McGeachie and Gordon Crawford, with Euan Anderson on fourth official duties.

Collum – who won’t have far to travel from his Lanarkshire residence – will oversee his 29th game of the season in all competitions.

He has so far brandished 90 yellow cards, sent off five players and awarded nine penalties.

The Religious Education teacher will have no excuse for taking his eye off the ball after visiting a Specsavers store this week, in recognition of the partnership the opticians share with the Scottish FA.

It will be a 13th top-flight match of the campaign for Collum, who has handled a League Cup Final, two Scottish Cup Finals and the 2015 Uefa Super Cup.

The Glasgow-born whistler will control his fourth Rangers game of the campaign – and first of 2017 – after sending off Philippe Senderos in their 5-1 Old Firm derby defeat at Celtic in September before 1-0 victories at Inverness in October and home to Dundee in November.

Meanwhile, Collum will be in the middle for a third Motherwell match of 2016-17 after their 4-2 derby win over Hamilton in September – in which he awarded the Steelmen a spotkick – and 1-1 draw at St Johnstone last month.

It will be the third time he takes charge of a fixture involving the two sides – after Rangers’ 2-1 win in a League Cup semi-final at Hampden in 2011 and a goalless draw at Ibrox in the league in 2012, both of which passed without major incident.

Mark Warburton’s second-placed Rangers will be looking to extend the gap over Aberdeen in third, which currently stands at two points, while Mark McGhee’s Motherwell could move into the top six with a first top-flight win over the Gers since December 2002.

The sides met as recently as last weekend as Kenny Miller scored twice for Rangers, who came from behind to beat the Steelmen in their Scottish Cup fourth round tie at Ibrox.


Madden gets another top-flight test

Bobby Madden in action
Well-known: Madden has established himself as a referee domestically in the Scottish top-flight and on the European stage in the Europa League (Picture from Sky Sports)

Bobby Madden will take charge of Celtic’s televised encounter with Hearts on Sunday.

The 38-year-old will be in the middle when the champions host the Jambos at Parkhead in front of the Sky cameras (KO 13:00 GMT).

His assistants will be Graham Chambers and Stephen Mitchell, while Greg Aitken will be on fourth official duties.

Madden was also in the middle for a 3-1 Celtic win over Hearts last season in his only other experience of a fixture between the sides.

He enjoyed a largely quiet display but booked six players and sent off Hearts defender Juwon Oshaniwa late on for a second yellow card.

It will only be the 18th game Madden will have officiated this season, after missing two months as he bravely battled thyroid cancer.

Overall, he has dished out 48 yellow cards, two red cards and pointed to the penalty spot 11 times in his 17 matches so far.

The East Kilbride whistler, who was an additional assistant referee at Euro 2016, will handle his third Celtic game of the campaign after their 4-1 win over 10-man Aberdeen in August and 2-1 success against Dundee in December – both also at Celtic Park.

His only Hearts match so far was their 3-0 victory over Motherwell at Tynecastle in November – in which only two players were cautioned.

Madden’s biggest career honour to date came in Celtic’s 2-0 win over 10-man Dundee United in the 2015 League Cup showpiece at Hampden Park.

Both sides were in action in midweek – with Hearts beating Raith Rovers 4-2 after extra time in a Scottish Cup replay, while Celtic edged past St Johnstone 1-0 in their game in hand in the league.

You can see the rest of the SPFL appointments for this weekend here.

Bobby Madden to referee first Scottish Premiership game since cancer scare

The Fifa whistler will oversee his first top-flight game since the end of August when the 10-man Dons were beaten 4-1 at Celtic Park after recovering from a battle with thyroid cancer.

Bobby Madden looks on
Back in business: Madden will be in the middle for his ninth game of the season – and only his fourth in Scotland’s top-flight (Picture from Sky Sports)

REFEREE Bobby Madden will take charge of his first Scottish Premiership game in over three months, following his scare battling a rare disease. 

The 38-year-old returned to action after two months out recovering from thyroid cancer at Glebe Park last Saturday for Livingston’s 3-0 over Brechin City in League One.

Although he didn’t wish to discuss his illness, the East Mains official said this week he was happy to be back refereeing and is “keeping very well”.

Now, Madden will oversee the televised Friday night encounter between Partick Thistle and Aberdeen at Firhill.

It will be his first top-flight match since he awarded Celtic a penalty and sent off Aberdeen defender Mark Reynolds for two bookable offences in the champions’ 4-1 win over the Dons on August 27.

Before that game at Celtic Park, he had handled qualifiers in the Champions League and Europa League, two Betfred Cup ties and two other Premiership matches.

It’s understood Madden had been diagnosed at the end of last season but postponed surgery until after Euro 2016 – where he was an additional assistant as part of Willie Collum’s team of officials.

There were a number of positive messages from well-wishers on social media, as Madden was eased back onto the pitch last weekend.

The Fifa whistler was also an additional assistant for Craig Thomson in Atletico Madrid’s last-gasp 2-1 victory over FC Rostov in the Champions League on Tuesday night.

Madden – who oversaw Celtic’s 2-0 win over Dundee United in the 2015 League Cup Final – has so far brandished 17 yellow cards, sent off two players and awarded five penalties this term.

Three of those spotkicks were controversially awarded to St Johnstone in the space of 23 minutes during their 3-0 League Cup win over Falkirk in July – after which Bairns boss Peter Houston said he would monitor the official’s penalty calls throughout the season.

Domestically, Madden was promoted to Category One in 2009 and has built up a wealth of experience and respect to become a Scottish top-flight regular since his first match in January 2011.

He first took up the whistle in 2002 and last year revealed that an advert in the East Kilbride News – spotted by his brother Jamie – inspired him to become involved in refereeing after realising he wouldn’t make the grade as a professional player.

He will encounter Alan Archibald’s Thistle side for the first time since their 1-0 defeat against Hearts at Tynecastle on March 5, in which only one player was booked.

Madden will be assisted in Glasgow’s Maryhill for the first game of the weekend by Stuart Stevenson and Gary Hilland, with Stephen Finnie on fourth official duties.

Elsewhere, Crawford Allan will take charge of Celtic’s match with Inverness on Saturday and Andrew Dallas will be in control of Rangers’ televised trip to Ross County on Sunday lunchtime.

You can see a full list of SPFL match official appointments here.

Scottish Premiership: Bobby Madden to referee Celtic v Aberdeen

The Fifa whistler will take charge of his third top-flight game of the season when last season’s top-two face off at Celtic Park.

Bobby Madden referee (Celtic v Aberdeen - 8th May 2016)
We meet again: Madden will oversee his third fixture involving the two sides, all at Celtic Park (Picture from Sky Sports)

BOBBY Madden will be the man in the middle when Celtic host Aberdeen at Parkhead on Saturday in the Scottish Premiership.

The 37-year-old Fifa referee will take charge as the top-two in the last two seasons meet for the first time this season (KO 15:00 BST).

He will be ably assisted by Stuart Stevenson and Gavin Harris, while Steven McLean will be the fourth official.

Madden handled the previous encounter between the champions and the challengers – Celtic’s 3-2 win in May which mathematically sealed their fifth successive title.

He also officiated Celtic’s 2-1 win in September 2014, remembered for Aleksandar Tonev receiving a seven-game ban for racially abusing Dons full-back Shay Logan.

Domestically, Madden was promoted to Category One in 2009 and has built up a wealth of experience and respect to become a Scottish top-flight regular since his first match in January 2011.

He first took up the whistle in 2002 and last year revealed that an advert in the East Kilbride News – spotted by his brother Jamie – inspired him to become involved in refereeing after realising he wouldn’t make the grade as a professional player.

Since joining the Fifa list in 2010, Madden has refereed several Europa League games and been an additional assistant referee for Champions League matches, the 2015 Uefa Super Cup, and part of Willie Collum’s team of Euro 2016 officials for two group games.

The East Kilbride-born whistler has also controlled several domestic cup semi-finals and play-off matches, with his biggest honour coming in 2015 when appointed to referee Celtic’s 2-0 win over Dundee United in the League Cup Final at Hampden Park.

Saturday’s game at Celtic Park – surprisingly not being broadcast live on TV – will be Madden’s seventh of the campaign in all competitions, his third in the top-flight.

He has so far brandished 15 yellow cards, sent off one player and awarded four penalties – three of which came in the space of 23 minutes in St Johnstone’s 3-0 win over Falkirk during the Betfred Cup first round group phase.

Elsewhere, Kevin Clancy will take charge of Rangers’ Friday night trip to face Kilmarnock at Rugby Park and Greg Aitken will oversee his first top-flight game of the season when Hamilton host Ross County on Saturday.

You can view a full list of SPFL match official appointments here.

Scottish League Cup: John McKendrick to referee Dundee United v Dunfermline

The experienced Ayrshire official will take charge of the televised Group C game at Tannadice.

John McKendrick referee (Raith Rovers v Hibs - 19th March 2016)
Familiar face: McKendrick is regularly seen officiating in Scotland’s lower divisions (Picture from BBC ALBA)

JOHN McKendrick has been confirmed as the referee for Sunday’s televised Scottish League Cup encounter between Dundee United and Dunfermline Athletic.

The 47-year-old will be in charge when the two Championship sides meet at Tannadice in Group C on July 31 (KO 15:00 BST, live on BT Sport).

He will be assisted by Stephen Mitchell and John McCrossan, with Stephen Finnie the fourth official.

It’s McKendrick’s third game in the competition of the season after overseeing Morton’s 1-0 win against Clyde on July 19 and Raith Rovers’ penalty shoot-out success over holders Ross County four days later.

He has brandished six yellow cards and awarded one spotkick so far but is yet to send a player off – and hasn’t issued a red card since Rangers’ 4-0 win at Stenhousemuir in April 2014.

Taking up the whistle in 1994, the father-of-three from Ayrshire has been a Category One referee since 2005 – five years after being admitted to the Scottish FA.

McKendrick attracted criticism last season, awarding Rangers a controversial free-kick which led to the decisive goal in their 3-1 win over Falkirk last October.

He was branded ‘a sh**bag’ by Bairns boss Peter Houston – who was subsequently reported to the SFA by McKendrick – and first-team coach Alan Maybury accepted a one-match ban for ‘abusive and insulting language’ after the final whistle at Ibrox.

A week later, he incurred the wrath of Morton boss Jim Duffy after booking Stefan McCluskey for diving when he went down under the challenge of Queen of the South’s Lewis Kidd.

John McKendrick stats
Statistics: How the numbers added up during McKendrick’s games in the 2015-16 season (Picture from Transfermarkt.com)

McKendrick handled the League One Play-Off Semi-Final second leg between Stenhousemuir and East Fife at the end of a mixed campaign for him on a personal level.

He was also the fourth official for the League Cup Final at Hampden Park and, earlier in pre-season, was selected as one of the referees for the Homeless World Cup in Glasgow.

McKendrick has taken control of seven Scottish top-flight games in his career – all in the 2010-11 season, with his last being St Johnstone’s 2-0 win over Aberdeen at Pittodrie on the final day.

He refereed three League One games involving Dunfermline last term but hasn’t encountered Dundee United since a goalless draw at McDiarmid Park in February 2011.

McKendrick – who likes orienteering and cycling in his spare time – is also a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at Glasgow Caledonian University.

Ray McKinnon’s Dundee United have won two penalty shootouts against Arbroath and Inverness, and thrashed Cowdenbeath 6-1 so far.

Meanwhile, Allan Johnston’s Dunfermline beat both Cowdenbeath and Arbroath 3-0 before a 5-1 defeat at home to Inverness.

John McKendrick (Morton v Raith Rovers - 18th Dec 2015)
Former role: McKendrick used to be the chairman of the Scottish Senior Football Referees Association before Crawford Allan (Picture from BBC ALBA)

ELSEWHERE…

Andrew Dallas in 1st Celtic game (v Stranraer - 10th Jan 2016)
In control: Andrew Dallas will also referee Partick Thistle’s Group E match against League Two Arbroath at Firhill (Picture from Sky Sports)

On Saturday, Don Robertson will take charge of Motherwell’s Group F game against League One Stranraer at Stair Park.

Euan Anderson will be the man in the middle for Hamilton Academical’s clash with Livingston in Group G at New Douglas Park.

And Kilmarnock’s Group H encounter with League Two side Albion Rovers at Rugby Park will be officiated by Bobby Madden.

Click here for a full list of the final League Cup first round match official appointments

Euro 2016: Referee Willie Collum receives second group game

Scottish whistler Willie Collum will oversee Czech Republic v Turkey in Group D on Tuesday, while Clement Turpin, Svein Oddvar Moen and Bjorn Kuipers also receive their second games of the tournament.

Willie Collum in action
Familiar face: Collum has handled over 250 Scottish top-flight matches and three major domestic finals since 2005 (Picture from ITV Sport)

SCOTTISH referee Willie Collum will take charge of his second Euro 2016 match when the Czech Republic face Turkey in Lens on Tuesday night.

The 37-year-old will be in the middle at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis as both sides play their final Group D games, with the Czechs needing to win to have any chance of reaching the last 16 (KO 20:00 BST, live on ITV4).

He will be ably assisted by Francis Connor and Irish linesman Damien MacGraith, with Bobby Madden and John Beaton acting as additional assistants.

Russia’s Sergei Lapochkin will be the fourth official, while compatriot Nikolai Golubev is the reserve assistant.

Collum – a Religious Education teacher from Belshill, north Lanarkshire – is taking part in his first major international tournament as a referee.

The Glasgow-born whistler went to the Under-20s World Cup in Colombia in 2011 and was an additional assistant referee in Craig Thomson’s team of officials at Euro 2012.

He strolled comfortably through his first match without any controversy and issued three bookings as France struck twice late on to clinch a 2-0 win over Albania in Marseille on Wednesday.

Father-of-three Collum, who has been on the Fifa list since 2006, described being selected as one of 18 referees for Euro 2016 as ‘the proudest moment of his career without doubt’.

With Scotland having failed to qualify for the tournament, the Uefa Elite Category official could stay beyond the group phase without the intervention of his nation’s progress.

Collum – who dished out nine yellow cards in Barcelona’s 5-4 win over Sevilla in last year’s Uefa Super Cup – encountered the Czechs in their 2-1 defeat to Iceland in qualifying but has never previously officiated a Turkey international.

Czech Republic lost 1-0 to Spain in their opener before fighting back to draw 2-2 with Croatia, who beat Turkey 1-0 in their first game.


ELSEWHERE…

Clement Turpin (France)
Inexperienced: Turpin has only handled 48 international matches since becoming a Fifa official in 2010 – the fewest of all the referees at the tournament (Picture from Sky Sports)

The host nation’s sole refereeing representative Clement Turpin will be at the helm for Northern Ireland’s encounter with Germany on Tuesday.

The 34-year-old French official, who is the youngest of the 18 referees at the tournament, will take charge as both sides seek to book their place in the last 16 in their final Group C game (KO 17:00 BST, live on BBC One).

He will be assisted at the Parc des Princes in Paris by Frederic Cano and Nicolas Danos, with Benoit Bastien and Fredy Fautrel as additional assistant referees.

Slavko Vincic is the fourth official, with fellow Slovenian Robert Vukan on standby as the reserve assistant.

Turpin – a referee manager from Montceau-les-Mines – has only been a Uefa Elite Category official for a year, handling six Champions League games and 10 in the Europa League.

He was largely inconsistent in his first match at the tournament and sent off Austria’s Alexander Dragovic for two bookable offences in their 2-0 defeat by Hungary in Bordeaux on Tuesday.

It will be his first Northern Ireland game but Turpin gave out four yellow cards in Germany’s 2-0 win over Georgia in March 2015 during qualifying.

Northern Ireland opened their first ever Euros campaign with a 1-0 loss to Poland before sealing a historic 2-0 success over Ukraine, who Germany also beat 2-0 before the world champions drew 0-0 with Poland.


MEANWHILE…

Svein Oddvar Moen referee
Regular: Moen has been a permanent fixture in the Champions League since 2011 and handled five games in the competition last season (Picture from BBC Sport)

Norway’s Svein Oddvar Moen will be in the middle for rivals Poland and Ukraine’s final Group C game in Marseille (KO 17:00, live on BBC Four).

The 37-year-old has not been in action since the tournament’s second day when he had a steady game in Wales’ 2-1 win over Slovakia in Bordeaux on June 11 – during which he booked five Slovakia players.

And now he will handle a second match in his first major international tournament as referee, with Poland requiring a positive result to seal a top-two finish against the eliminated Ukrainians.

Moen – an ambulance driver by occupation – was the fourth official for last month’s Europa League Final between Liverpool and Sevilla in Basel.

He hasn’t officiated a Poland game before but was in charge of Ukraine’s 2-1 friendly win over Austria in November 2011, in which he dished out seven yellows and a red card.

Moen has been refereeing since 1995 and has slowly worked his way through the ranks to become an established name on the European stage.

He will be assisted by Kim Thomas Haglund and Frank Andas, with Ken Henry Johnsen and Svein Erik Edvartsen acting as additional assistants.

Turkey’s Huseyin Gocek will be the fourth official, while Bahattin Duran will be on standby as the reserve assistant.

Poland and Ukraine were joint-hosts of the last European Championship finals four years ago.

Bjorn Kuipers referee (ROI v Bosnia - 16th November 2015)
We meet again: Kuipers encountered both Croatia and Spain during their qualifying campaigns (Picture from Sky Sports)

Tuesday’s other Group D encounter between Croatia and holders Spain in Bordeaux will be officiated by the experienced Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers.

The 43-year-old has been appointed to keep the peace at the Stade de Bordeaux as the Croats require a point against the 2008 and 2012 winners to seal second spot (KO 20:00 BST, live on ITV).

He will be assisted by fellow countrymen Sander van Roekel and Erwin Zeinstra, and additional assistants Pol van Boekel and Richard Liesveld.

Hungary’s Viktor Kassai will be the fourth official, with compatriot Gyorgy Ring acting as the reserve assistant.

Kuipers has officiated several major finals including the 2011 Uefa Super Cup, 2013 Europa League Final, 2013 Confederations Cup Final and the 2014 Champions League Final.

Among the contenders to take charge of the July 10 showpiece, he is taking part in his third major international tournament as a referee.

Kuipers – a supermarket owner from Oldenzaal – was the fourth official for the tournament opener on June 10 before booking six players during Germany’s goalless draw with Poland in Paris on Thursday.

Spain began with a 1-0 victory over Czech Republic before beating Turkey 3-0 in the biggest win of the tournament so far, while Croatia edged the Turks 1-0 before blowing a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with the Czechs.

Vicente del Bosque’s Spanish side needed a late Jesus Navas goal to beat Croatia 1-0 in their last meeting at Euro 2012 – a game refereed by Germany’s Wolfgang Stark.

Referee Willie Collum set for first Euro 2016 outing

Scottish whistler Willie Collum will oversee France’s second Euro 2016 game against Albania in Group A while Slovenia’s Damir Skomina and Sergei Karasev of Russia receive their first matches of the tournament.

Willie Collum blows for full-time (Uefa Super Cup - 11th August 2015)
Experience: Collum has been on the Fifa list since 2006 and was elevated to Uefa Elite Category level in June 2012 (Picture from BT Sport)

SCOTTISH referee Willie Collum has received his first appointment as man in the middle at Euro 2016. 

The 37-year-old will take charge of host nation France’s second Group A match against Albania in Marseille on Wednesday, June 15 (KO 20:00 BST, live on BBC One).

Collum was the fourth official for Sunday’s encounter in Group D between Turkey and Croatia in Paris.

But it will be a different pressure at the Stade Velodrome for the Religious Education teacher from Belshill, north Lanarkshire.

Craig Thomson was Scotland’s representative at Euro 2012 but Collum has since overtaken him as the country’s leading official and is highly regarded by Uefa.

He has handled some prestigious friendlies involving top nations, a number of high-profile Champions League games and was selected for last season’s memorable Super Cup clash between Barcelona and Sevilla.

His excellent form on the continent led to his first call-up for a major international tournament but endured a difficult domestic season in the build-up to the European Championships.

Willie Collum referee (Motherwell v Celtic - 9th April 2016)
Proud: Collum described his selection as one of 18 referees for Euro 2016 as ‘the highlight of my refereeing career without a doubt’ (Picture from Sky Sports)

Collum dished out a massive 148 yellow cards, sent off seven players and awarded 18 penalties in 47 matches in all competitions during 2015-16.

He is renowned for being card-happy in Scotland and received criticism from Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson and Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes in particular last term for some controversial decisions.

Ex-Hearts and Hibs midfielder Michael Stewart also claimed Collum was ‘not fit to officiate in Scotland’s top-flight’ – a division he referees in on a regular basis.

Despite being much-maligned back home, the Glasgow-born whistler has a wealth of big-game experience to draw upon including several Old Firm and Edinburgh derbies, European matches and major finals.

Among Collum’s other highlights are refereeing the 2013 and 2015 Scottish Cup Finals, the 2012 League Cup Final, 2008 U19 European Championship Final and three Scottish play-off ties.

He will be ably assisted by Irish linesmen Damien MacGraith and Scotland’s Frank Connor, while fellow countrymen John Beaton and Bobby Madden will be additional assistant referees.

England’s Michael Oliver shall be the fourth official, with compatriot Mike Mullarkey on standby as the reserve official.

After a 2-1 win over Romania in the tournament opener, Didier Deschamps’ side could seal their passage into the knockout phase by beating Albania, who lost 1-0 to Switzerland in their first match.


ELSEWHERE…

Damir Skomina referee (Spain v Slovakia - 5th September 2015)
Previous meeting: One of Skomina’s four Euro 2016 qualifiers was Slovakia’s 2-0 defeat by Spain last September (Picture from Sky Sports)

Slovenia’s Damir Skomina has been confirmed as the referee for the Group B clash between Russia and Slovakia in Lille on Wednesday.

The 39-year-old will be in control of the other match in England’s group at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy (KO 14:00 BST, live on ITV).

It’s the estate agent’s first involvement in this summer’s European Championships – the second major tournament of his refereeing career.

Skomina oversaw three matches at Euro 2012 – Holland’s 1-0 defeat by Denmark and England’s 3-2 win over Sweden in the group stages before Germany’s 4-2 win over Greece in the quarter-finals.

Although he wasn’t selected for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, he made the cut for Euro 2016 after impressing on the European stage in the last two seasons.

The Koper-born whistler, who was a fourth official at Euro 2008 and for the 2013 Champions League Final at Wembley, has been on the Uefa Elite Category list since 2009-10 and refereed Chelsea’s Champions League quarter-final first leg against Benfica in 2011.

Among his other highlights were handling the 2007 U21 European Championship Final, officiating at the 2008 Olympic Games and taking charge of Chelsea’s 4-1 defeat to Atletico Madrid in the 2012 Super Cup.

Last season, Skomina handled Real Madrid’s 1-0 win over Manchester City in the Champions League semi-final second leg and Villarreal’s 1-0 victory over Liverpool in the Europa League semi-final first leg.

He was also described as ‘weak and naive’ by then Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho for denying his side a penalty in their goalless draw with Dynamo Kiev last October.

Skomina – who can also speak Italian and English – regularly oversees European matches involving British teams, with his confident but no-nonsense approaching earning him many admirers.

He will be assisted by fellow countrymen Jure Prapotnik and Robert Vukan, and additional assistants Matej Jug and Slavko Vinčić.

Sweden’s Jonas Eriksson is the fourth official, with his compatriot Mathias Klasenius the reserve assistant.


MEANWHILE…

Sergei Karasev ready to blow whistle (Finland v NI - 11th Oct 2015)
Last season: Karasev refereed four Champions League games including Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat at Barcelona in their quarter-final second leg (Picture from Sky Sports)

Russian referee Sergei Karasev will appear at his first major international tournament for the first time to oversee Romania’s Group A clash with Switzerland.

The 37-year-old will take charge at the Parc des Princes in Paris on Wednesday, June 15 (KO 17:00 BST, live on BBC One).

Fellow countrymen Nikolai Golubev and Tikhon Kalugin are the assistant referees and Sergey Lapochkin and Sergei Ivanov will be the additional assistants referees.

Aleksei Kulbakov, from Belarus, is the fourth official while compatriot Vitali Maliutsin completes the officiating team as reserve assistant.

Karasev has become an established name with regular Champions League and Europa League appointments since becoming a permanent fixture on the Fifa list in 2010.

The Moscow-born lawyer, who reached Uefa Elite Category level in 2012, is known for his excellent fitness levels and often lenient approach, as he boasts one of the lowest card averages among the 18 Euro 2016 referees.

Karasev will be known to Scottish football fans for his handling of Celtic’s 6-1 Champions League defeat to Barcelona in 2013 and Scotland’s 1-1 draw with Macedonia during qualification for the 2014 World Cup.

One of his three Euro 2016 qualifiers was Northern Ireland’s 1-1 draw with Finland last October.

Karasev, whose birthday was on June 12, will hope to impress in his 50th international match as a referee in the hope he can prolong his stay in France ahead of his second tournament of the summer at the Olympics.

He will be one of 15 referees involved in the men’s football tournament in Rio in August.

His only previous competition experience came last summer when overseeing three games at the U21 European Championships, including the semi-final between Sweden and Denmark.