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 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.
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.
Rangers defender Bilel Mohsni punched and kicked Motherwell striker Lee Erwin as unsavoury scenes broke out after the Steelmen’s 3-0 win at Fir Park which retained their Scottish Premiership status.
Rangers defender Bilel Mohsni punched and kicked Motherwell striker Lee Erwin as unsavoury scenes broke out after the Steelmen’s 3-0 win at Fir Park which retained their Scottish Premiership status.
BT Sport cameras showed 21-year-old Erwin approached Mohsni following the final whistle to shake hands but the Tunisian centre-back apparently told him to “f*** off”.
Erwin then shoved Mohsni, who reacted by physically attacking his opponent before officials intervened.
The brawl resulted in red cards being issued by referee Craig Thomson in the dressing rooms for Erwin, Mohsni and Motherwell’s unused substitute Fraser Kerr, who got involved with Mohsni as the melee between both sets of players ensued.
Motherwell fans also flocked onto the pitch and ran towards the Rangers supporters – most of which had already left – to gloat about the result.
Stewards and police officers eventually ushered them away while mounted police directed supporters back into the stands.
Mohsni lashed out at Erwin, leaving him with a wound on his face which was visible when he re-emerged with the rest of the Motherwell players for their lap of honour to say goodbye to the fans.
Mohsni continued to act violently as players and coaching staff tried to restrain him and as he walked down the tunnel where it is understood there were further exchanges with McCall also believed to have spoken to a Motherwell fan shouting at Mohsni.
Mohsni, though, has defended his actions and said Erwin made him fear for his own safety, calling the Motherwell player ‘a coward’.
“What do you call someone who attacks you from behind? A coward. I was worried about my security so I did the only thing I could,” Mohsni said.
“He says I swore at him. I never swore. My mum used to say to me that when you swear at someone it is like you want to fight with them. She educated me properly.”
Police Scotland will also investigate the fight by reviewing footage and liaising with both clubs in the coming days, assistant chief constable Bernard Higgins has confirmed.
Rangers have confirmed they will fully co-operate with the investigation.
“Bilel Mohsni’s behaviour was completely unacceptable and had his contract not now expired, the club would have started disciplinary proceedings,” Rangers said in a statement.
“The club will also assist with any investigation into the behaviour of Motherwell supporters and we would like to thank the Rangers fans who were excellent in showing admirable restraint despite severe provocation.”
Rangers manager Stuart McCall said he missed the incident but acknowledged such behaviour was “unacceptable” and “disgraceful”.
McCall also suggested that if Mohsni – whose contract expires next month – had acted in such an aggressive manner that he would not be at the club next term although his own future is also in doubt.
Disgraceful scenes at Fir Park. Bilel Mohsni could be in big trouble in flare up with Lee Erwin. #shameful
Both clubs are likely to be heavily censured by the SFA with the SPFL also likely to take further action against Motherwell after Rangers captain Lee McCulloch was struck on the face with a flag by a supporter and a flare was thrown onto the pitch after the first goal was scored.
Marvin Johnson broke the deadlock on 51 minutes as his shot took a wicked deflection off Marius Zaliukas and found the net after a howler from Gers goalkeeper Cammy Bell.
Lionel Ainsworth doubled the lead with another deflected strike 20 minutes from time and substitute John Sutton stroked home from the penalty spot in stoppage time as the Steelmen guaranteed their survival in style.
Motherwell extended their 30-year stay in the top-flight and consigned Rangers to a second season in the Championship with a second-leg victory in the Scottish Premiership play-off final.
Motherwell retain top-flight status they have held since 1984-85
Rangers stay in the Championship and have not played in Premiership since 2012
Marvin Johnson, Lionel Ainsworth and John Sutton seal 3-0 second leg win for ‘Well
Stuart McCall suffers disappointing defeat on first return to Fir Park
Ugly scenes at full-time as Rangers’ Mohsni clashes with Motherwell’s Erwin
Motherwell extended their 30-year stay in the top-flight and consigned Rangers to a second season in the Championship with an assured second-leg victory in the Scottish Premiership play-off final.
Leading 3-1 from the first leg at Ibrox, deflected goals from lively wingers Marvin Johnson and Lionel Ainsworth and a late penalty from substitute John Sutton cemented a comfortable aggregate triumph for the Steelmen.
Their experience, discipline and – most importantly – quality prevailed on a blustery afternoon as Ian Baraclough’s men preserved their Premiership status after finishing second-bottom in the table to avoid going down with St Mirren.
Johnson’s speculative effort flicked off Marius Zaliukas and spun over the grasp of Cammy Bell whose attempted punch went badly wrong six minutes after the break for a goal of bizarre proportions.
Ainsworth doubled their advantage with 20 minutes remaining as his low effort squirmed off Zaliukas and past a despairing Bell as the Steelmen earned only their second win over Rangers in the past 40 meetings and stretched their unbeaten home record to eight games.
Their failure to complete the job at the first time of asking leaves the future of Stuart McCall, who made his first return to north Lanarkshire since resigning as Motherwell boss in December after five years in charge, rather uncertain with talks set to take place in the coming weeks.
His successor Baraclough named an unchanged line-up with Stephen Pearson and Stevie Hammell both passed fit following injury concerns.
McCall made three alterations from Thursday night as captain Lee McCulloch came into a back three against the team he began his career with to replace the suspended first-leg scorer Darren McGregor while Kris Boyd was recalled in attack and Shane Ferguson made his first start since joining on loan from Newcastle in January as Dean Shiels and Nicky Clark dropped to the bench.
Rangers were on the front foot in the opening exchanges as Kris Boyd headed Shane Ferguson’s cross straight at George Long and then slashed a half volley off target following a misplaced header by Louis Laing.
The moderate pressure forced Motherwell to defend desperately at times but Rangers lacked the decisive instinct in the final third to capitalise on the hosts’ early nerves.
It was a relatively calm opening considering the occasion with Gers doing much of the pressing and bossing possession as Ferguson and Richard Foster progressed forward from their wing-back positions to supplement the attack.
But tempers frayed midway through the first half when Marius Zaliukas appeared to thrust his head towards Stephen Pearson after a penalty-box melee which went unseen by the officials.
In a separate incident on the sidelines, Lee McCulloch was struck in the face with the end of a flag by a Motherwell supporter in the East Stand when trying to retrieve the ball for a throw-in that was dealt with by stewards.
Haris Vuckic was then shown a yellow card for what referee Craig Thomson thought was a dive when the on-loan Newcastle midfielder went over the outstretched leg of Stephen McManus just outside the box.
The scrappy and tetchy nature suited Motherwell but, despite the best efforts of Lee Erwin and Scott McDonald to make an impact, the Steelmen struggled to provide a threat and trouble the Gers defence with goalkeeper Cammy Bell largely a spectator.
The closest they came was through the counter-attacking pace which was effective in the first leg with Lionel Ainsworth again the catalyst, the winger delivering a dangerous low cross for McDonald which was turned behind by Foster.
Indeed, the hosts ended the first period strongly amid mixed weather conditions as Erwin – with five goals in his previous eight starts – flashed a fierce effort wide of the post as the Gers failed to clear their lines from a corner.
Marvin Johnson was also inches away from his first Motherwell goal since joining on loan in January from Kidderminster Harriers when whistling a shot inches wide before his free-kick was glanced wide by the head of McManus.
But the Gers, with midfielder Nicky Law the driving force against his former club, should have gone ahead immediately before the break when Ferguson’s corner was inadvertently flicked on by ‘Well skipper Keith Lasley and Zaliukas sidefooted over from close range.
The tension only increased after the interval amid a frantic tempo at both ends as the challenges continued to fly in at a varying rate of knots.
However, the picture became clearer as Motherwell made the breakthrough to increase their healthy lead on aggregate and send their supporters into raptures.
The goal came in extremely fortuitous circumstances with Johnson’s shot taking a wicked deflection off Zaliukas before looping over Bell, who only helped the ball into the net as he backpedalled.
It left Rangers requiring a minimum of three goals to overturn the tie but the visitors did not give up hope as McCall made quick-fire changes with teenage midfielder Tom Walsh and striker Nicky Clark replacing Ferguson and Boyd.
Vuckic curled an effort straight at Long and his drilled cross was almost diverted into his own net by Josh Law.
But another cruel deflection undid the Gers to add further gloss to Motherwell’s advantage as Johnson surged forward before finding Ainsworth, whose low shot took a nick off Zaliukas which wrongfooted a disconsolate Bell.
It prompted vocal chants of ‘we are staying up’ from the exultant home faithful and, in contrast, a mass exodus from the 1,500 travelling Rangers supporters.
The damage might have worsened for the Gers had Bell not reacted superbly to deny Motherwell’s top scorer John Sutton, who came off the bench to replace Ainsworth.
And with the last kick of the game, Sutton converted from the penalty spot after the striker was bundled to the ground by Lee Wallace.
Within seconds of the final whistle, ugly scenes broke out with an angry and violent altercation taking place between Rangers defender Bilel Mohsni and Motherwell’s Lee Erwin during which punches and kicks appeared to be thrown.
Motherwell fans also invaded the pitch to celebrate with some taunting the Gers supporters before police and stewards intervened.
But the sense of relief and joy around Fir Park was palpable as the Steelmen retained their place in Scotland’s top division while the Glasgow side contemplate and rebuild for another mammoth campaign in the second tier.
Substitutes: Grant (on for Pearson 74′), Sutton (on for Ainsworth 76′), Ramsden (on for Johnson 84′)
Booked: McDonald (51′)
Goals: Johnson (52′), Ainsworth (70′), Sutton (90+3′ pen)
Substitutes: Walsh (on for Ferguson 55′), Clark (on for Boyd 59′), Mohsni (on for Zaliukas 72′).
Ian Baraclough has been appointed as the new Motherwell manager, replacing Stuart McCall in the Fir Park hotseat.
AFTER over a month of searching and sifting through more than 50 applications, Motherwell have finally found the man to replace Stuart McCall.
Ian Baraclough may be an unknown quantity to many supporters but the former Scunthorpe player has been tasked with changing the ailing fortunes in north Lanarkshire.
The former Sligo Rovers boss guided the Irish club into the Champions League and won three major honours during a two-and-a-half year stint – including their first league title in 35 years in 2012 – before the axe was wielded in the summer.
Whether the 44-year-old, who had been working as a scout at Huddersfield since then, can arrest the Steelmen’s alarming slide towards the relegation mire in the Scottish Premiership remains to be seen.
Must admit I know next to nothing about Ian Baraclough, but pleased to see Motherwell appoint from outwith the usual suspects.
Following a thorough selection process in which 58 candidates declared their interest – six of which were interviewed – it is Baraclough who impressed the most and has been given the opportunity to show his credentials.
Terry Butcher – who guided ‘Well to the 2005 Scottish League Cup final – pulled the plug on his consideration for the post earlier this week while former Kilmarnock boss Kenny Shiels – who resigned from his post at Morton in May – was mentioned.
Dutchmen Mitchell van der Gaag and Rob Maaskant, both former Motherwell players in the 1990s, were also candidates.
Even caretaker boss Kenny Black – McCall’s assistant for four years – was in the pipeline after taking over the reins during a difficult period.
It is still unconfirmed whether he will remain at Fir Park and in what capacity but he will be at the helm for this afternoon’s must-win encounter against bottom club Ross County – his fifth and final match in charge.
Motherwell director Derek Weir told Sky Sports last Saturday before the Celtic defeat that he hoped a new manager would be in place for this weekend – and, by the skin of their teeth, they have kept to their word.
Baraclough will be an observer from the stands as he prepares to inherit a side lacking in confidence and goals – lying 10th in the top-flight and in dire straits after back-to-back second-placed finishes.
The former Glanford Park caretaker manager has his work cut out and has tough shoes to fill following the success of McCall, who resigned at the start of November following a run of five consecutive defeats.
Motherwell have had some famous faces in the managerial hotseat in the past, including former Scotland bosses Alec McLeish and Craig Brown.
Time will tell if Baraclough can allure himself to the Motherwell faithful and prove his place in history by guiding the struggling Steelmen back up the table – where they feel they belong.
Motherwell continue to defy expectation under Stuart McCall’s shrewd management with a point which could have been three against the seemingly invincible champions Celtic.
COMING from behind to snatch a point in stoppage time against the champions is a sensational result for a Motherwell side who continue to punch above their weight.
An absorbing contest in the Fir Park sunshine ended in a six-goal thriller that blew the race for second place in the Scottish Premiership wide open and exemplified just why the Steelmen are right in the thick of it.
Six first-team regulars may have been absent but it did not stop ‘Well from replicating a feat only AC Milan and Barcelona have managed this term – score three times in 90 minutes against Celtic.
The sprit and endeavour shown throughout typified the character and belief of their candid manager Stuart McCall, who continues to work wonders on a shoestring budget.
The former Rangers striker has plenty of football knowledge, he does his homework, he reads up on opponents and watches them in action weeks in advance.
Recovering from losing their top three scorers from last season was always going to be difficult but his shrewd methods of rebuilding with free transfers have come up trumps again.
It is no coincidence that Gordon Strachan handpicked McCall to be part of his Scotland coaching staff and Sheffield United came calling for his services when things went wrong for David Weir earlier in the season.
McCall’s honesty and wisdom shines through on his players in the shape of commitment and desire. The pictures from the home dressing room at half-time spoke volumes.
While Celtic players were stood on the pitch for four minutes with the stern words of Lennon ringing in their ears, McCall issued instructions with a measure of composure and persistently drilled the message to his players with the help of the tactics board.
The Steelmen went toe to toe with the best team in Scotland and could have emerged with a third win in the last four home games against Neil Lennon’s men on another day.
McCall’s tactical nouse was key to overcoming the Hoops twice last term, being brave in his system and taking risks when falling behind in both games.
Michael Higdon was the hero in their memorable victories last February and April and John Sutton, like he has done with his goalscoring feats all season, stepped into the breach.
The former Hearts frontman was a thorn in the side of a Hoops defence which has been solid all season but looked unsettled from the word go.
Lennon will bemoan some of his side’s defending as Efe Ambrose was bullied by the physical presence of Sutton and undone by the long ball in behind while Emilio Izaguirre caught out of position on numerous occasions.
Sutton simply did not give up on chasing down Craig Reid’s toss forward when Ambrose allowed it to sail over his head in the fourth minute.
The blame was apportioned with Fraser Forster, whose bearings were exposed when the weak effort slithered beyond his grasp.
Ambrose was particularly vulnerable, receiving an innocuous whack in the face from team-mate van Dijk for his troubles. But if it had the intention of giving him a wake-up call, it didn’t have the desired effect when at fault for the second goal.
It was almost a case of deja vu as van Dijk was static from Steven Hammell’s lofted ball and the defence could not regain their action stations.
Zaine Francis-Angol got his rewards for taking a gamble, continuing his burst into the box as the ricochet of Izaguirre fell into his path.
The two-goal cushion was the least that Motherwell deserved for their endeavour in the first half.
After throwing away a two-goal lead a fortnight ago at St Mirren, McCall was desperate to avoid another defeat and would have taken note of the way Celtic ran out comfortable winners at Tannadice by starting on the front foot and dominating possession.
The change of shape to a three-man defence was partly enforced as a result of the deepening injury crisis but made the middle of the park extremely compact.
In the absence of suspended skipper Keith Lasley, 18-year-old Jack Leitch was outstanding
Celtic came unstuck at Fir Park twice in 2012/13 and were heading down the same route but the worry for McCall was, when performing at a lacklustre level, their unrivalled ability to reach another gear can prove deadly.
On a day of drama in North Lanarkshire, the point could be crucial in the battle with Aberdeen and Dundee United.
The trip to Tannadice comes next week with the League Cup winners lying in wait in a potential winner-takes-all bout at Pittodrie on the final day.
Taking their financial constraints into account, a third consecutive European qualification would be a remarkable achievement for the Steelmen.
They may still have work to do and the odds might be against them but the humble presence and calming influence of McCall will ensure Motherwell will fight until the very end.
The Scottish international, who took his tally to 13 goals this season in all competitions, told BBC Scotland: “I’ve been laid up in bed all day. I’ve not been too well. I think at the minute we are in a very ruthless mode.”
Commons opened the scoring against the third-placed Steelmen late in the first half before Efe Ambrose doubled the lead in the 54th minute with a header from Charlie Mulgrew’s corner.
Anthony Stokes netted his first goal in two months after Commons bagged the third before substitute Bahrudin Atajic replaced him to open his Celtic account in the closing stages and round off the comprehensive win.
And 31-year-old Commons said: “I’ve been a bit flued up so I was happy to come off as I was looking up at the clock after 70 minutes ready for another oxygen tank.
“So it was nice for Bahrudin to have that kind of impact, get on the field, play with the big boys and get his goal.”
“Sometimes I take him for granted but he’s a special player. For the money we paid for him, he’s been a real steal. He’s getting better all the time,” he said.
“I think there is more to come from him in terms of his general play but as a goalscorer and value for money, he’s been one of my best signings and one of the best we have had at the club for a long time. He is a sensational player and long may it continue.”
Celtic are already confirmed to finish bottom of Champions League Group H ahead of their final match against Barcelona at the Nou Camp on Wednesday night, with Commons admitting: “If we were playing at this level consistently in the Champions League, you never know where it might take us.
“But that is done and dusted now and we must concentrate on next year and the only way we get in that environment next year is winning the league and we’re trying to do that convincingly this year.”
The Hoops lost twice at Fir Park last season in February and April but former Derby playmaker Commons was pleased with the impressive goalscoring display from his team-mates in the wintry north Lanarkshire conditions on Friday night.
“I was looking at a few clips of previous games here and we do sometimes struggle but we carried our form on from the Hearts game. We’re not happy at winning by two or three, we want to go on and get five or six,” he added.
The defending champions are unbeaten in the league after 14 games, winning 11 and drawing three.
And when being asked if Celtic can continue undefeated until the end of the season, Commons replied: “There’s a lot of talk about it but it’s extremely difficult.
“There are a lot of places away from home where you’ve got to play well but at the minute we are going to the difficult places like Motherwell and Hearts and putting on performances.”