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…

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Steven McLean to oversee Celtic’s Hamilton visit

Referee Steven McLean will officiate Celtic’s trip to Hamilton Academical for the second season running when the Scottish Premiership champions visit New Douglas Park on Sunday.

Steven McLean referee (Rangers v Hibernian - 23rd August 2015)
Vast improvement: McLean has been officiating in the Scottish top-flight since 2007 but has stepped up as a senior official in recent seasons (Picture from Sky Sports)

STEVEN McLean will take charge of Celtic for the second time in a fortnight when the Scottish Premiership champions travel to Hamilton Academical on Sunday.

The 34-year-old was only in the middle for the Hoops’ 6-0 thrashing of Dundee at Celtic Park on September 20 – awarding Ronny Deila’s side a penalty that Emilio Izaguirre missed.

He will be ably assisted at New Douglas Park by Graeme Stewart and Stuart MacMillan with Brian Colvin on fourth official duties for the lunchtime kick-off (12:30pm, live on BT Sport 1).

Glasgow-based McLean was also at the helm for the corresponding fixture last term as Celtic ran out 2-0 winners in north Lanarkshire.

It will be the official’s eighth top-flight game of the season and his second involving Hamilton after handling their 4-0 win over Dundee United last month.

The Fifa whistler will first be in Belgium on Thursday evening to oversee Club Bruges’ Group D Europa League clash with Danish outfit FC Midtjylland.

Before that, he has handled 10 games in all competitions – brandishing 39 yellow cards, awarding four penalties and his only red card was shown to Hearts defender Juwon Oshaniwa in their 2-0 defeat at Inverness earlier this month.

McLean – who is also a qualified fitness instructor – has officiated a league game in every round of fixtures this season including the Scottish Championship clash and is yet to fulfill the role of fourth official.

His most recent Premiership game was at Fir Park last weekend in which he handed out seven yellow cards in managerless Motherwell’s 2-1 victory over winless Partick Thistle.

McLean – the brother of former Ross County defender Brian – will be remembered by Celtic fans for failing to send off Inverness defender Josh Meekings for a deliberate handball on the goalline in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park in April.

It was one of four Celtic matches that McLean officiated in 2014-15 including the 1-0 home reverse against Hamilton at Parkhead almost a year ago to the day.

His only other Hamilton game – aside from the two against the Hoops – was their 3-2 victory over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park in May in which he issued four yellow cards in a largely incident-free contest.

McLean – who handled 23 top-flight games last season – oversaw the 2014 League Cup Final and last season’s semi-final between Aberdeen and Dundee United.

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.

Kevin Clancy in charge for Celtic’s St Johnstone trip

Kevin Clancy will take charge of a Celtic game for the third time already in 2015 when refereeing the Scottish champions’ trip to St Johnstone this weekend.

Kevin Clancy referee (Stranraer v Dundee Utd Scottish Cup - 8th February 2015)
Familiar face: Clancy has become an established name on the Scottish refereeing list since overseeing his first SPL game in 2012 (Picture from Sky Sports)

KEVIN Clancy will take charge of a Celtic game for the third time already in 2015 when refereeing the Scottish champions’ trip to St Johnstone this weekend.

The 31-year-old Fifa official – who also oversaw Dundee United’s 3-0 Scottish Cup win over Stranraer last Sunday – will be in the middle as Ronny Deila’s Scottish Premiership leaders travel to Perth to face Tommy Wright’s men in the Saturday lunchtime kick-off.

He will be assisted at McDiarmid Park by linesmen Stuart MacMillan and Graeme Stewart while the fourth official will be Andrew Dallas.

Clancy oversaw Celtic’s away Premiership matches against Kilmarnock and Ross County during January as well as their home clash with Dundee in November and League Cup quarter-final thrashing of Partick Thistle in October.

He has also handled four St Johnstone matches this term with the most recent coming against Inverness in the Highlands on January 20.

The last of his 13 Premiership appointments this term came 10 days later when St Mirren won 1-0 at Partick Thistle.

All but one of the six games he has refereed in this calendar year so far has been televised, including his first Dundee derby on New Year’s Day.

Clancy has officiated 23 matches in total in all competitions – brandishing 86 yellow cards, sending off four players and awarding five penalties.

He first took up the whistle in 2000 and was admitted to the Scottish FA five years later.

The Renfrewshire-based official was promoted to a Category One referee in 2009 and – having hugely impressed in the SFL – oversaw his first SPL match in April 2012.

Kevin Clancy referee (Hibs v Ross County - 13th March 2016)
High five: Clancy will oversee his fifth Celtic match of the season (Picture from BBC Scotland)

Such was his fast progression, he was even recognised by Fifa – one of seven currently from Scotland on the list – before his promotion to the top-flight had been confirmed.

Clancy’s most high-profile appointments came last season when he officiated his only major final to date in the Ramsdens Cup at Easter Road as Raith Rovers shocked Rangers and the Championship play-off semi first leg between Hamilton Accies and Falkirk.

He was also the fourth official to Craig Thomson for the 2013 League Cup Final at Hampden Park when St Mirren beat Hearts 3-2 and was part of the same referee’s team as an additional assistant in last season’s Scottish Cup Final at Celtic Park involving St Johnstone.

Clancy has been at the helm for several low-key Europa League matches and been behind the goal as a member of Willie Collum’s Champions League group of officials.

He is widely regarded as a lenient and respectable referee who keeps control of games well and rarely attracts controversy.

Celtic – who beat Dundee at Dens Park last weekend to reach the Scottish Cup quarter-finals – can pull clear of second-placed Aberdeen with victory at Partick Thistle on Wednesday night before taking on St Johnstone.

The sixth-placed Saints have won just one of their last six league games and were dumped out of the Scottish Cup as holders last weekend by Championship outfit Queen of the South.

In the corresponding fixture at McDiarmid Park back in August, the Hoops ran out comfortable 3-0 winners after a tale of two penalty incidents with one awarded and one ignored by John Beaton on that occasion as Saints skipper Dave Mackay saw red.

The 12:45pm kick-off will be screened live on Sky Sports 1.