SCOTTISH referee Willie Collum will take charge of the 2015 Uefa Super Cup between Barcelona and Sevilla in Tbilisi on August 11.
The 36-year-old has been selected by the Uefa Referees Committee to oversee the first major European showpiece of the campaign between the two Spanish sides at the home of the Georgian national team.
He will be assisted at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena by Francis Connor (Scotland) and Damien MacGraith of the Republic of Ireland.
Graham Chambers (Scotland) will be the fourth official while Scottish Premiership referees Bobby Madden and Kevin Clancy – who are often chosen in the middle for Europa League games – will act as additional assistant referees.
34-year-old Irish referee MacGraith, from Mayo, has previously officiated in UEFA Champions League, World Cup qualifiers, UEFA Euro 2016 qualifiers and the 2011 UEFA U21 Championships Final between Switzerland and Spain in Denmark.
Barcelona qualified for the game after winning the Champions League for the fifth time with a 3-1 win over Juventus in the final in Berlin while Sevilla secured back-to-back Europa League titles following a 3-2 victory over Ukrainian outfit Dnipro in the Warsaw final.
Last season, Mark Clattenburg led an English team of officials for another all-Spanish Super Cup at the Cardiff City Stadium in South Wales as Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice in Real Madrid’s 2-0 win over Sevilla.
The showpiece date serves as a deserved reward for an impressive season on the continent for Collum – who oversaw six Champions League matches last term including the quarter-final second leg between Monaco and Juventus.
He was also in the middle for three Euro 2016 qualifiers as well as some high-profile international friendlies such as Spain against the Netherlands.
Collum has notched up 67 UEFA fixtures since joining the international list in 2006 and – at the age of just 29 – officiated the 2008 UEFA European Under-19 Championship final between Italy and Germany.
But the Super Cup – seen as the traditional curtain-raiser to the European season – will be the biggest game in the refereeing career of the Religious Education teacher from Belshill.
Domestically, the Lanarkshire whistler was in charge of the 2012 League Cup Final at Hampden Park when Celtic surprisingly lost to Kilmarnock, the 2013 Scottish Cup Final between Hibernian and Celtic before returning at the end of last term for the 2015 Scottish Cup showpiece as Inverness beat 10-man Falkirk.
As well as officiating several cup semi-finals, he was also on fourth official duties for the 2011 League Cup Final and 2012 Scottish Cup Final.
John Fleming, Head of Referee Operations at the SFA, said: “On behalf of the Scottish FA, I would like to congratulate William and his team on this fantastic appointment.
“The UEFA Super Cup Final is one of the most prestigious fixtures in European football. Taking charge of this exciting match is a testament to the dedication and hard work of the refereeing team.
“This appointment is great news for Scottish refereeing and I am sure the country will take great pride in seeing five of our officials take to the field in Tbilsi next month.”
Last season, he issued a massive 144 yellow cards, sent off 17 players and awarded 22 penalties across 49 games in all competitions.
Among his other highlights from 2014-15 included an Edinburgh derby in the Scottish Championship, the Championship play-off final second leg between Alloa and Forfar, 27 Premiership matches, three League Cup ties and three Scottish Cup games including the final.
Collum is widely renowned for issuing plenty of cards in domestic games – despite his reluctance to do so in European outings – and is often the centre of controversy but is regarded as a fit and highly rated official who tends to get the big decisions right.
However, he endured a controversial start to 2015 domestically.
Collum awarded four penalties and sent off four players in his first two matches of the new year but saw the red cards he gave to St Mirren’s Kenny McLean and Motherwell defender Stephen McManus overturned by the Scottish Football Association’s judicial panel.
Collum was then dropped from the Premiership for two weeks before he and assistant referee David McGeachie failed to award a goal when Adam Rooney’s shot struck the underside of the crossbar before bouncing a foot over the line in Aberdeen’s 3-0 win at Hamilton in February.
He was also slammed by Hibernian boss Alan Stubbs in March for failing to spot a foul by Lee Wallace on Paul Hanlon in the build-up to Kenny Miller’s clinching goal for Rangers in their 2-0 win at Easter Road.
Glasgow-born Collum – a father to three daughters – first took up the whistle at the age of 14 and has been a Category One official since June 2004.
He was promoted to the Scottish Premier League a year later and was first included on the Fifa list of international referees in 2006 but began regularly officiating in the Europa League and Champions League from the 2010-11 campaign.
On the European front, Collum has been a Uefa Elite Category official since 2012 and – after being handed a Europa League quarter-final in 2013-14 – officiated Bayern Munich, Juventus and Barcelona in the Champions League last term campaign.
He took charge of Barcelona’s 3-1 win over Ajax at the Nou Camp last year and their 4-0 victory over BATE Borisov in December 2011 – both in the group stages – while it will be the first time he encounters Sevilla in any European game.
Collum has surprisingly beat off competition from the likes of Norway’s Svein Oddvar Moen, Serbia’s Milorad Mazic, Italy’s Gianluca Rocchi and Czech Republic’s Pavel Kralovec to land the eagerly-anticipated showdown between the two Spanish sides.
It could be earmarked as a fixture to test Collum’s credentials before the list of 12 referees for the 2016 European Championship finals in France is confirmed in the Autumn.
Here is the social media reaction to his Super Cup selection – and it isn’t very pleasant….
LAST FIVE SUPER CUP REFEREES:
2014: Mark Clattenburg (England) – Real Madrid 2-0 Sevilla
2013: Jonas Eriksson (Sweden) – Bayern Munich 2-2 Chelsea (Bayern win 5-4 on penalties)
2012: Damir Skomina (Slovenia) – Chelsea 1-4 Atletico Madrid
2011: Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands) – Barcelona 2-0 FC Porto
2010: Massimo Busacca (Switzerland) – Inter Milan 0-2 Atletico Madrid