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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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.

Irn Bru Cup first round: Greg Aitken among appointed referees

Aitken is the only Category One referee selected during the first round of the revamped Challenge Cup.

Greg Aitken referee (Airdrie v Forfar - 15th February 2015)
Established: Former fireman Aitken has been officiating in the Scottish Premiership since November 2014 (Picture from BBC ALBA)

GREG Aitken is the only Category One referee involved in the first round of the newly-named Irn Bru Cup. 

The 39-year-old from Renfrewshire will take charge of newly-promoted League One side Queen’s Park against Kilmarnock Colts at Hampden Park.

Elsewhere, Graham Beaton – who is no relation to fellow Scottish referee John – will oversee the derby between Highland League team Formartine United and Aberdeen Colts.

Lowland League outfit East Stirlingshire against League Two Montrose at Ochilview will be officiated by Craig Napier.

The 23-year-old doctor from Glasgow, who is a Category One development official, oversaw last season’s Lowland League Cup Final between Gretna and East Kilbride.

Mike Roncone will handle Aberdeen-based Highland League side Cove Rangers against Dundee Colts at Forfar’s Station Park.

The Category One development whistler, from Angus, regularly officiates in the SPFL’s fourth tier.

Glasgow’s Steven Reid will be the man in the middle for Heart of Midlothian Colts’ trip to League Two Stirling Albion.

David Dickinson takes charge of the only televised tie of the round between Celtic Colts and League Two Annan Athletic at Morton’s Cappielow – live on Premier Sports.

The Category Two referee from Renfrewshire – who first took up the whistle in 2006 – will be assisted by Kevin McElhinney and Tony Fullerton, with Garry Doherty on fourth official duties.

Meanwhile, Kilmaurs-based Aitken has been a Category One referee since 2011 having first taken up refereeing in 2002.

Beaton, 33, has officiated all three major finals in Highland League football and was promoted during the summer to Category One development status.

The Kemnay-based referee, who is a document controller in the oil and gas industry, also refereed last season’s Scottish Junior Cup Final between Beith and Pollok at Kilmarnock’s Rugby Park.

Soft drinks company Irn Bru are the new sponsors for the Challenge Cup, with 54 teams involved from the start – including four clubs from outside the SPFL, two from Northern Ireland and two from Wales.

‘Colts’ are the name adopted by the 12 Scottish Premiership Under 20’s teams for the competition.

All ties are taking place on Tuesday, August 2, with the exception of Cumbernauld Colts against Hamilton Academical Colts – which will be played the following day.

Rangers are the current holders after thrashing Peterhead 4-0 in last season’s final at Hampden Park.

Click here for a full list of first round match official appointments

Referee Aitken receives Scottish Premiership call

37-year-old Renfrewshire referee Greg Aitken will take charge of his first Scottish Premiership game on Saturday when Kilmarnock host Dundee at Rugby Park.

Greg Aitken referee
First time: Aitken will make his Scottish Premiership debut at Rugby Park (Picture courtesy of Scottish FA)

SCOTTISH referee Greg Aitken will take charge of his first match in the Premiership this weekend.

The 37-year-old former fireman will be in the middle for Kilmarnock’s clash with newly-promoted Dundee at Rugby Park on Saturday.

With no official confirmation of promotion to the top-flight, it appears this is a one-off trial game for the Renfrewshire whistler, who is normally found in the three tiers below.

His last game was Hibernian’s televised 4-0 win at Livingston in the Championship a fortnight ago, having been the fourth official for Partick Thistle’s goalless draw with St Johnstone in the Premiership last weekend.

Aitken – a Category One official since May 2011 having first took up refereeing in 2002 – has been touted for inclusion on the Premiership list for a while after impressing in the lower divisions.

Andrew Dallas and Don Robertson made the step up at the start of the current season to compensate for the retirements of Iain Brines and Stevie O’Reilly.

Aitken has produced more red cards than any other Scottish referee this term – seven in 10 games in all competitions – and brandished an average of almost three yellow cards per match.

The ICT Operations manager, who was the fourth official for last season’s Ramsdens Cup Final, has overseen several games involving Rangers since their demotion to the fourth tier at the start of the 2012-13 campaign.

He will be assisted by linesmen Gordon Crawford and Willie Conquer and fourth official Steven McLean in east Ayrshire while observer Eddie Smith will be keeping a watchful eye over his performance from the stands.

Kevin Clancy to officiate 2014 Ramsdens Cup Final

Kevin Clancy will be the man in the middle for the 2014 Ramsdens Cup Final between Raith Rovers and Rangers at Easter Road next month.

Kevin Clancy watches on (Stranraer v Dundee Utd - 8th Feb 2015)
International: Clancy became a Fifa referee in January 2012 (Picture from Sky Sports)

REFEREE Kevin Clancy will take charge of the 2014 Ramsdens Cup Final between Raith Rovers and Rangers, the SFA have confirmed.

The 30-year-old has been appointed to oversee the showpiece on Sunday, April 6, at Hibernian’s Easter Road stadium.

Stephen Mitchell and Joseph Lawson will be the assistant referees, with Greg Aitken named as the fourth official.

Clancy was admitted to the Scottish FA list of referees in June 2005 and became a Category One official four years later.

He officiated League One champions Rangers’ 2-0 win over nearest challengers Dunfermline at Ibrox earlier this month, sending off Pars defender Danny Grainger in the second half.

The Renfrewshire-based whistler attracted criticism for his handling of a Scottish League Cup quarter-final between Inverness and Dundee United earlier this term when brandishing 13 yellow cards and sending off Nadir Ciftci for allegedly grabbing the throat of linesman Gavin Harris.

Clancy, who was the fourth official for last season’s League Cup final at Hampden Park, has never been the man in the middle for a national final before.

His stature has grown significantly this term, receiving 13 Scottish Premiership appointments and last-eight ties in both the League Cup and Scottish Cup.

Clancy has refereed 29 games in all competitions this season, brandishing 140 yellows and two red cards and awarding seven penalties.

Championship side Raith beat Annan Athletic 3-0 in the Ramsdens Cup semi-finals under Clancy’s stewardship back in October while the Light Blues progressed to the final with a cagey 1-0 win over Stenhousemuir.

Queen of the South lifted the Challenge Cup last year following a penalty shoot-out victory over Partick Thistle at Livingston’s Almondvale Stadium.

Rovers supporters will be housed in the Famous Five Stand with an initial allocation of 3,500 for their first final in 20 years with Rangers fans expected to fill the rest of the 20,000 available seats.

The 16:05 kick-off will be screened live on BBC ALBA.