What to look out for in the SPFL this weekend

From new faces and milestones to promotion bids and solid defences, here are six things to keep an eye on during the Scottish football weekend.

Following an extended period to recharge the batteries during the winter break, the Scottish football season is back in full swing once again.

There has already been plenty happening – from thrills and spills in the Scottish Cup to transfer dealings galore as managers look to boost their squads before next week’s deadline.

It’s already been a big start to the final weekend of action in January after St Mirren moved 11 points clear at the top of the Championship after beating fellow promotion challengers Dunfermline 2-1 at East End Park on Friday night.

Here are five more things to keep an eye on across the divisions…

TON UP FOR RODGERS

Formidable: Rodgers has won 72 of his previous 99 matches in all competitions as Celtic manager since joining in the summer of 2016

Records have been tumbling since Brendan Rodgers arrived at Parkhead and on Saturday the Celtic boss will reach a significant landmark as he takes charge of the champions for the 100th time in a competitive match.

The Northern Irishman will be desperate to mark the milestone with a victory but it promises to be a tough afternoon for the Scottish Premiership leaders against a Hibernian side who have found their feet back in the top-flight upon their return this season.

On his latest return to the East End of Glasgow, Neil Lennon will be desperate to spoil the occasion for his opposite number Rodgers, who has been very complimentary of the former Celtic player and manager this week by claiming he would be a good choice for the next Scotland boss.

Fourth-placed Hibs have already taken points off Celtic twice in the league this season in successive 2-2 draws and ran them close in the League Cup semi-final, so the Hoops will have to be at their best to give their manager a performance and result that he can be proud of as he reaches the century mark.


SOMETHING HAS TO GIVE AT TYNECASTLE

Impregnable: Hearts fans have seen their side keep eight successive clean sheets – a run which started with a 1-0 home win over Motherwell last month

An intriguing contest is in prospect in Gorgie as Hearts and Motherwell, two of the in-form teams in the division, go head to head.

Both sides are adjacent in the top half of the table – sitting fifth and sixth respectively – and are yet to lose a game or concede a goal so far in 2018.

That could stay the same, of course, should the game end goalless but, the way the teams have been playing of late, a stalemate would be a long shot.

Craig Levein’s Jambos will be marginal favourites given their formidable run of late, as they look to extend their unbeaten league run to 11 games, and the fact they have won their last four home league matches against Motherwell without a conceding a goal.

Stephen Robinson’s Steelmen have begun the new year with back-to-back 2-0 victories at Fir Park and, despite missing some key players, will be confident of extending their good start in their first away trip of 2018 as they look to consolidate their place in the top six.

Winger Danny Amankwaa could make his Hearts debut and Kyle Lafferty is back from suspension, while Motherwell are without Alex Fisher – who drove all the way down to Yeovil on Friday to feature in the Glovers’ FA Cup tie against Manchester United – but Peter Hartley, whose announcement video was akin to that of United’s Alexis Sanchez revelation, is back from suspension having signed permamently from Blackpool this week.


NO MARGIN FOR ERROR FOR THE TERRORS

More of the same: The Terrors will hope for a similar outcome to their last home game, when they thrashed bottom-club Brechin City 4-1 at Tannadice on January 2

After St Mirren’s charge at the top continued with a crucial away win at promotion rivals Dunfermline on Friday night, it only served as a further reminder that Dundee United cannot afford any more slip-ups like the disastrous 6-1 defeat at struggling Falkirk recently in the race for promotion in the Championship.

Since that thumping on January 6, the Terrors have responded well by keeping successive clean sheets – including earning a hard-earned point at Dunfermline – in a bid to keep the pressure on St Mirren, who they lost to at the tail end of December.

Next up on Saturday afternoon is a home clash against a Greenock Morton side who sit seventh in the table, so three points at Tannadice is a must in the first of two games in hand on St Mirren as they look to respond to the Buddies’ fine result.

Former Hearts boss Csaba Laszlo has repeatedly emphasised that taking United back to where they feel they belong – in the Scottish Premiership – is his sole focus since replacing Ray McKinnon in November.

If they are to achieve that, even via the play-off route, consistency in all areas will be key between now and the end of the season and games like this weekend’s shouldn’t present any problems.


CAN AYR KEEP THE FIGHT GOING?

Magnificent: McCall will be hoping the Somerset Park club can continue their excellent season so far

In Scottish League One, a fascinating battle is being played out at the top of the table in the race for the title between leaders Raith Rovers and second-placed Ayr United.

With just a point separating the sides, the Honest Men – who have played a game more but won the same number of matches (14) as Raith – make the trip to Hampden Park on Saturday to face a Queen’s Park side who are joint bottom of the 10-team pack with just 18 points from 22 games.

Apart from a disappointing home defeat to third-placed Arbroath, Ian McCall’s side have been going well and have the tantalising prospect of a visit from Rangers on the horizon in the Scottish Cup – should the Gers get past Fraserburgh in their re-arranged fourth-round tie.

Ayr managed to get a valuable point against Raith a fortnight ago in their last league outing and, with Gary Locke’s side expected to beat fifth-placed Alloa Athletic away from home elsewhere on Saturday, know they need to get back to winning ways in the league to sustain their excellent pursuit of top spot in what is sure to be an exciting second half of the season.


ODDS STACKED AGAINST THE BLUE BRAZIL

Doom and gloom: Cowdenbeath has been a welcoming place for visiting teams in the fourth tier this season

Propping up the entire SPFL, it’s been another largely unforgettable season so far for all the wrong reasons for Cowdenbeath.

Rooted to the foot of League Two with just one league win to their name, things are looking bleak for Gary Bollan’s men, who face the prospect of being demoted having avoided a third successive relegation by winning a play-off against Lowland League champions East Kilbride last season.

But, despite having just nine points on the board from 19 games, all hope is not lost just yet, with the gap between themselves and Edinburgh City just six points as it stands and Cowdenbeath have a game in hand on them.

The Fife club, who were playing in the Championship as recently as 2014/15, had lost successive games before last weekend’s game at Stenhousemuir fell foul of the weather so have had extra time to prepare for the visit of seventh-placed Berwick Rangers on Saturday.

Cowdenbeath know they need to start picking up points from somewhere in a collision course for survival which is looking increasingly like it won’t be successful and, if it can be this weekend, they might just give themselves a glimmer of hope in the face of adversity.


NEW FACES ON SHOW IN DINGWALL

The stage is ready: Ross County and Rangers are likely to continue to bed in several new signings when they meet in Dingwall in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Sunday

Keen to make an impression, there is likely to be a number of players still getting used to new team-mates and new surroundings when Rangers travel to Ross County in Sunday’s televised Premiership encounter.

Greg Docherty should make his debut for Graeme Murty’s side at the Global Energy Arena, just two days after the midfielder’s move from top-flight rivals Hamilton Accies.

He became the fifth new arrival in January for the Glasgow giants, following Sean Goss, Jamie Murphy, Jason Cummings and Russell Martin through the gates at Ibrox.

After their Scottish Cup tie at Highland League side Fraserburgh was postponed last weekend, the Gers roared back into action following the winter break with another impressive victory over Aberdeen in midweek – with all four of this month’s acquisitions playing a part.

Despite having to put up with a host of absentees, Murty will be hoping his promising new-look side continues to gel as they seek to maintain some kind of pressure on runaway leaders Celtic, who have an 11-point lead heading into the weekend, by beating bottom-club Ross County.

The Staggies have been one of the busier teams in the transfer market, with Owen Coyle bringing in former Liverpool striker David N’Gog, who he worked with at Bolton, as well as midfielder Greg Tansey on loan from Aberdeen, Inih Effiong from Woking and defender Harry Souttar on loan from Stoke City.

Although Tansey is doubtful with an injury, the trio of Effiong, Souttar and N’Gog look to set to make their home debuts as the Dingwall club – who have been on the road for six of their last nine games – hope to pull off a shock by ending a 10-game winless run back on their own patch against the Old Firm side who seem to be on the rise again.

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.

Scottish Premiership: Don Robertson to referee Rangers v Hamilton opener

Don Robertson will take charge of the first SPFL match of 2016-17 at Ibrox, while Nick Walsh and John Beaton are also in action on the opening weekend.

Don Robertson (Dunfermline v Airdrieonians - 29th Jan 2016)
Relative rookie: Robertson has only handled 28 Premiership games to date – issuing 82 yellows, eight red cards and awarding nine spotkicks (Picture from BBC ALBA)

DON Robertson will take charge of the first match of the 2016-17 Scottish Premiership season when Rangers host Hamilton Academical on Saturday.

The 29-year-old is a surprise choice to referee the top-flight opener as the promoted Gers take on Accies in the televised lunchtime encounter (KO 12:30 BST, live on Sky Sports).

He will be ably assisted by Graeme Leslie and Brian Templeton, with Craig Charleston performing fourth official duties.

It’s the start of Robertson’s third season in the Premiership having received his first match on the opening weekend two years ago in Hamilton’s 2-0 home defeat by Inverness – after being promoted with Andrew Dallas in the summer of 2014.

The Glasgow whistler officiated nine top-flight games in his debut campaign and 19 last season, when he established himself as a regular with 41 games in all competitions.

Don Robertson stats
Statistics: How Don Robertson’s 2015-16 campaign fared across all competitions (Picture from Transfermarkt.com)

Robertson has brandished four yellow cards in as many League Cup games so far this term and awarded one penalty but is yet to send a player off.

He has already encountered Hamilton in their 3-0 win over St Mirren at New Douglas Park on July 23 and made history by handling the first game of the revamped Betfred Cup in Dundee United’s penalty shootout success over Arbroath.

Robertson – who is an accountant by occupation – was also in charge of Partick Thistle’s 4-1 win at Stenhousemuir and Motherwell’s 3-0 victory over Stranraer at Stair Park last weekend.

He will be in Croatia as late as Thursday night as fourth official to John Beaton for the Europa League third qualifying round second leg between Hadjuk Split and FC Olexandriya.

Robertson has been a Category One official since 2012, the same year he oversaw the Scottish Junior Cup Final.

He began refereeing at the age of 17 after playing semi-pro with Partick Thistle, Queen’s Park and St Mirren.

Robertson has played a supporting role for a number of crucial games – having been an additional assistant referee for two Scottish Cup semi-finals and the 2015 Scottish Cup Final between Inverness and Falkirk.

He was the fourth official for Rangers’ 4-0 win over Peterhead in the Petrofac Training Cup Final at Hampden – and fulfilled the same role at Ibrox on the opening weekend in 2013 for the Gers’ 4-1 win over Brechin City in League One.

It will be a quick reunion with the Light Blues for Robertson, who was the referee for their final game of the Championship season on May 1 in the 2-2 draw at St Mirren.


ELSEWHERE…

John Beaton in action (Partick Thistle v Celtic - 9th August 2015)
Different role: Beaton was an additional assistant referee at Euro 2016 as part of Willie Collum’s team of officials for two group games (Picture from BT Sport)

John Beaton will be the man in the middle for Celtic’s opening league game against Hearts on Sunday.

The 34-year-old, from Lanarkshire, takes charge when the champions visit Tynecastle for Brendan Rodgers’ first Premiership match at the helm (KO 2:15pm, live on Sky Sports).

He will be assisted by David McGeachie and Gary Hilland, while Alan Muir – who was the referee for Celtic’s 3-1 win in the teams’ last encounter – is the fourth official.

Beaton didn’t have his best game in Celtic’s 2-1 victory over the Jambos in the League Cup quarter-finals last October – his only previous fixture between the sides.

Like Celtic, the Motherwell-based whistler is on European duty in midweek having been assigned to referee the Europa League third qualifying round second leg between Hadjuk Split and FC Olexandryia.

He has awarded one penalty in each of his four games so far this season – three of which were in the Betfred Cup, including Rangers’ 3-0 win over Stranraer at Ibrox.

Beaton – who is still a part-time communications officer at the University of Strathclyde – was the referee for Celtic’s 1-1 draw with Leicester in the International Champions Cup at Parkhead a fortnight ago.

Aside from the League Cup tie, he encountered Hearts on four other occasions last season – twice in the Premiership against Partick Thistle and Kilmarnock at Tynecastle, and twice in the Scottish Cup against Aberdeen and Hibernian.

Beaton handled three Celtic league games – their 2-0 Glasgow derby win at Partick Thistle and 3-1 victory over St Johnstone in August, and goalless draw at home to Dundee in March.

Overall, he brandished 156 yellow cards, sent off 10 players and awarded 10 penalties in 45 matches across all competitions.

A Category One official since 2009, Beaton has established himself as a regular in the Premiership since his first game in 2012 and is one of seven Scottish referees on Fifa’s international list.

He has officiated the 2015 Ramsdens Cup Final, two League Cup semi-finals, two Scottish Cup semis including one last season, and been an additional assistant referee for two Scottish Cup Finals.

John Beaton in action (Dundee Utd v Dundee - 11th August 2015)
Experience: Beaton, whose cousin Steven Nicholls is a referee, first took up the whistle in 1997 (Picture from Sky Sports)

MEANWHILE…

Nick Walsh in action (Hibs v Alloa - 21st Feb 2016)
Rookie: Walsh will take charge of only his fourth Premiership match in Maryhill on the opening weekend (Picture from Sky Sports)

Nick Walsh will take charge of the Premiership opener between Partick Thistle and Inverness Caley Thistle at Firhill on Saturday (KO 15:00 BST).

The 30-year-old from Stirling, who was promoted to Category One over the summer, is only in his fourth season as a senior official.

He will be assisted by Andrew McWilliam and Graham McNellie, while Mat Northcroft will be the fourth official.

Walsh has dished out 13 yellow cards and awarded two penalties in four League Cup games so far – Queen of the South’s 2-0 victory over Airdrieonians, Motherwell’s 3-1 victory at Annan, and Peterhead’s surprise 2-1 win against Dundee.

He was also called up as a late replacement for Willie Collum for Ayr United’s opening 2-1 success over Hamilton Accies.

The Glasgow-born whistler only handled his first top-flight game in April and received two more before the end of the season.

He was in the middle for Partick Thistle’s 1-0 defeat at Ross County and 2-1 loss at home to Dundee, as well as Hearts’ 1-1 draw with Ross County on the final day of the season.

Walsh was one of the most card-happy officials in Scotland having brandished 123 yellow cards and 14 red cards in 32 games last term, as well as awarding 10 penalties.

He has been a regular in the Championship and fourth official for numerous Premiership games in the last two seasons.

But his attitude was questioned by Motherwell boss Mark McGhee, who felt his communication should have been better when in control of electronic board duties during April’s 4-1 defeat at Aberdeen.


Willie Collum referee (Scottish Cup Final - 30th May 2015)
Notable meeting: Collum oversaw the 2014 Scottish Cup semi-final between the sides at Ibrox (Picture from Sky Sports)

Euro 2016 referee Willie Collum will be in the middle for Sunday’s other televised game between St Johnstone and Aberdeen.

The 37-year-old school teacher, from Glasgow, will take charge of his second domestic match of the season in the lunchtime kick-off at McDiarmid Park (KO 12:15 BST, live on BT Sport).

He will be assisted in Perthshire by Frank Connor and Douglas Ross, with Greg Aitken on fourth official duties.

Collum performed well in his two games in France before being sent home at the end of the group stages – Turkey’s 2-0 win over the Czech Republic and the hosts’ 2-0 victory against Albania.

The Fifa official – who has been an SPL regular since his 2006 debut – oversaw Dundee’s 7-0 victory against Forfar in the Betfred Cup first round.


Kevin Clancy before the 2016 Scottish League Cup Final
Major honour: Clancy, who handled the 2014 Challenge Cup Final, officiated Ross County’s 2-1 win over Hibs at Hampden in March’s League Cup showpiece (Picture from BBC Scotland)

Kevin Clancy will be the man in the middle for the Championship’s standout opening match between Falkirk and Hibernian on Saturday (KO 15:00 BST).

The 32-year-old has been assigned to the opening weekend game between two expected promotion hopefuls at the Falkirk Stadium as Neil Lennon prepares to take charge of his first league game as Hibs manager.

Clancy – who will be assisted by Alastair Mather and Daniel McFarlane – has received more responsibility in the last 18 months having overseen a number of high-profile games such as Edinburgh and Dundee derbies, and last season’s Scottish League Cup Final.

The Renfrewshire-based whistler has handled a Champions League qualifier, Europa League game and three League Cup matches so far this season.

Glasgow-born Clancy – who has been a Category One official since 2009 – took charge of Hibs’ 1-1 draw with Falkirk at Easter Road last December, among 10 Championship games in 2015-16.

He has also been appointed to referee the televised League Cup second round tie between Premiership sides Celtic and Motherwell at Parkhead on Wednesday night.

Scottish Premiership: Summer 2016 Transfer Tracker

With the countdown to the start of the 2016-17 Scottish Premiership season underway, stay updated with all of the summer moves as the 12 clubs shape their squads for the new campaign.

Parkhead (v Aberdeen pre-match - 8th May 2016)
New era: Celtic will be aiming for a sixth successive title as Brendan Rodgers begins his managerial reign at Parkhead (Picture from Sky Sports)

AS the days and weeks tick by during the summer months, the 12 clubs in the Scottish Premiership are quietly going about their transfer business. 

Although the European Championship finals in France provide a welcome distraction, the announcement of the fixtures has accelerated excitement ahead of the 2016-17 campaign.

The return of Rangers, arrival of high-profile managers and attraction of established stars has only added to the anticipation that next season has the potential to be one of Scottish football’s best yet.

Teams are already going full steam ahead to conclude their deals sooner rather than later, with players coming and going all the time – some seasoned campaigners and others young rookies.

Here is a full list of all the happenings as they are confirmed:


ABERDEEN:

Derek McInnes on sidelines (v Celtic - 12th September 2015)
Success: McInnes has guided Aberdeen to successive second-placed league finishes and a League Cup triumph in his three seasons at Pittodrie (Picture from Sky Sports)

IN:
Jayden Stockley (from AFC Bournemouth, free transfer) *
Miles Storey (from Swindon Town, free transfer)
Joe Lewis (from Cardiff City, free transfer)
Neil Alexander (from Hearts, free transfer)
Callum Morris (from Dundee United, free transfer)
Wes Burns (from Bristol City, season-long loan)
James Maddison (from Norwich City, season-long loan)

OUT:
David Goodwillie (to Plymouth Argyle, free transfer)
Simon Church (returned to MK Dons at end of loan spell)
Adam Collin (returned to Rotherham at end of loan spell)
Barry Robson (retired)
Michael Rose (to Ayr United, free transfer)
Scott Brown (released)
Aaron Lennox (to Raith Rovers, season-long loan)
Willo Flood (to Dundee United, free transfer)
Cammy Smith (to Dundee United, season-long loan)

 

CELTIC:

Celtic players after being crowned champions (v Aberdeen - 8th May 2016)
Indifferent: Celtic ensured Ronny Deila signed off as manager by celebrating another title but they failed to add to the trophy last term (Picture from Sky Sports)

IN:
Aidan Nesbitt (from Partick Thistle, end of loan spell)
Kristoffer Ajer (from IK Start, undisclosed fee)
Moussa Dembele (from Fulham, undisclosed fee)
PJ Crossan (from Dunfermline, free transfer)
Kolo Toure (from Liverpool, free transfer)
Dorus de Vries (from Nottingham Forest, undisclosed fee)
Scott Sinclair (from Aston Villa, £3 million)
Cristian Gamboa (from West Bromwich Albion, undisclosed fee)

OUT:
Anthony Stokes (to Blackburn Rovers, free transfer)
Colin Kazim-Richards (to Coritiba, free transfer)
Carlton Cole (to Sacramento Republic, free transfer)
Stefan Scepovic (to Getafe, free transfer)
Michael Duffy (to Dundee, season-long loan)
Paul McMullan (to Dunfermline, season-long loan)
Stuart Findlay (to Newcastle United, free transfer)
Scott Allan (to Rotherham United, season-long loan)
Darnell Fisher (to Rotherham United, undisclosed fee)
Stefan Johansen (to Fulham, undisclosed fee)
Saidy Janko (to Barnsley, season-long loan)
Charlie Mulgrew (to Blackburn Rovers, free transfer)

 

DUNDEE:

Dens Park exterior (5th March 2016)
Disappointment: The Dens Park club will be hoping to improve on last season’s eighth-placed finish (Picture from Sky Sports)

IN:
James Vincent (from Inverness CT, free transfer) *
Danny Williams (from Inverness CT, free transfer) *
Yordi Teijsse (from Quick Boys, free transfer)
Mark O’Hara (from Kilmarnock, free transfer)
Michael Duffy (from Celtic, season-long loan)
Faissal El Bakhtaoui (from Dunfermline, free transfer)
Kevin Gomis (from Nice, free transfer)

OUT:
Paul McGinn (to Chesterfield, free transfer)
Thomas Konrad (to Vaduz, free transfer)
Daryll Meggatt (to Ayr United, free transfer)
Kevin Thomson (to Tranent, free transfer)
Kane Hemmings (to Oxford United, undisclosed fee)
Greg Stewart (to Birmingham City, free transfer)
Gary Harkins (to Ayr United, free transfer)
Andrew Black (released)

 

HAMILTON ACADEMICAL:

Hamilton Accies sign at New Douglas Park
Consolidation: Accies – under boss Martin Canning – are preparing for their third successive season in Scotland’s top-flight (Picture from Sky Sports)

IN:
Jordan McGregor (from Hibernian, free transfer)
Jack Breslin (from Celtic, free transfer)
Remi Matthews (from Norwich City, season-long loan)
Massimo Donati (from Bari, free transfer)
Gary Woods (from Leyton Orient, free transfer)
Georgios Sarris (from Kayseri Erciyesspor, free transfer)
Dan Seaborne (from Partick Thistle, free transfer)
Rakish Bingham (from Hartlepool United, free transfer)

OUT:
Oumar Diaby (released)
Kemy Agustien (released)
Chris Mandiangu (released)
Michael McGovern (to Norwich City, free transfer)
Ziggy Gordon (to Partick Thistle, free transfer)
Carlton Morris (to Norwich City, end of loan spell)
Alan Martin (to Dumbarton, free transfer)

 

HEARTS:

Hearts players in tunnel (v Aberdeen Scottish Cup 4th round - 9th Jan 2016)
Exceeding expectations: Hearts finished third and qualified for the Europa League last season – their first back in the top-flight (Picture from BBC Scotland)

IN:
Paul Gallacher (from Partick Thistle, free transfer)
Robbie Muirhead (from Dundee United, free transfer)
Faycal Rherras (from Sint-Truiden, free transfer)
Conor Sammon (from Derby County, free transfer)
Tony Watt (from Charlton Athletic, season-long loan)
Bjorn Johnsen (from Litex Lovech, free transfer)
Krystian Nowak (from Pdobeskidzie Bielsko-Biala, free transfer)

OUT:
Gavin Reilly (to Dunfermline Athletic, season-long loan)
Miguel Pallardo (released)
Blazej Augustyn (released)
Jordan McGhee (to Middlesbrough, season-long loan)
Billy King (to Inverness CT, season-long loan)
Morgaro Gomis (to Kelantan, free transfer)
Lewis Moore (to Cowdenbeath, short-term loan)
Juanma (to Murcia, season-long loan)

 

INVERNESS CT:

ICT Stadium (v Stirling Albion 4th round replay - 19th Jan 2016)
Downward spiral: Life has been a struggle in the Highlands since Caley Thistle won the 2015 Scottish Cup, as Richie Foran prepares for his managerial debut (Picture from Sky Sports)

IN:
Scott Boden (from Newport County, free transfer)
Jake Mulraney (from QPR, free transfer)
Kevin McNaughton (from Wigan Athletic, free transfer)
Billy King (from Hearts, season-long loan)
Lonsana Doumbouya (from Cercle Brugge, free transfer)
Larnell Cole (from Fulham, season-long loan)
Brad McKay (from St Johnstone, free transfer)

OUT:
James Vincent (to Dundee, free transfer) *
Danny Williams (to Dundee, free transfer) *
Nathaniel Wedderburn (to Dunfermline, free transfer)
Liam Hughes (to Barrow, free transfer)
Jordan Roberts (to Crawley Town, free transfer)
Dean Brill (released)

 

KILMARNOCK:

Lee Clark pre-match (v Inverness - 24th April 2016)
Changing times: Lee Clark will look to reshape the Killie squad ahead of his first full season in charge after narrowly avoiding relegation last term (Picture from Sky Sports)

IN:
William Boyle (from Huddersfield Town, loan until January)
Flo Bojaj (from Huddersfield Town, loan until January)
Souleymane Coulibaly (from Peterborough, free transfer)
Callum McFadzean (from Sheffield United, free transfer)
Jonathan Burn (from Middlesbrough, loan until January)
Jordan Jones (from Middlesbrough, free transfer)
Martin Smith (from Sunderland, free transfer)
Joshua Webb (from Newcastle United, free transfer)
Jamie Cobain (from Aston Villa, free transfer)
George Green (from Burnley, short-term loan)
Charlee Adams (from Birmingham, short-term loan)
Dapo Kayode (from Dinamo Bucuresti, free transfer)
Luke Hendrie (from Burnley, short-term loan)
Scott Boyd (from Ross County, season-long loan)

OUT:
Chris Johnston (to Raith Rovers, free transfer)
Kevin McHattie (to Raith Rovers, free transfer)
Lee Ashcroft (to Dunfermline, free transfer)
Jamie Hamill (to Queen of the South, free transfer)
Dale Carrick (to Livingston, free transfer)
Mark Connolly (to Crawley Town, free transfer)
Conor Brennan (released)
Julien Faubert (to Aris Salonika, free transfer)
Aaron Splaine (released)
Alex Henshaw (released)
Darryl Westlake (released)
Craig Slater (to Colchester United, free transfer)
Kallum Higginbotham (to Dunfermline Athletic, free transfer)
Josh Magennis (to Charlton Athletic, £250,000)

 

MOTHERWELL:

Fir Park pre-match (v Celtic - 9th April 2016)
Much improved: A strong end to the season ensured Motherwell finished fifth in 2015-16 – after being consigned to the relegation play-offs a year earlier (Picture from Sky Sports)

IN:
Jacob Blyth (from Leicester City, free transfer)
Richard Tait (from Grimsby Town, free transfer)
Ben Heneghan (from Chester, undisclosed fee)
Carl McHugh (from Plymouth Argyle, free transfer)
Dean Brill (from Inverness CT, free transfer)
Craig Clay (from Grimsby Town, free transfer after trial)
Ryan Bowman (from Gateshead, undisclosed fee)

OUT:
Ben Hall (to Brighton & Hove Albion, undisclosed fee)
Conor Ripley (returned to Middlesbrough after loan spell)
Morgaro Gomis (returned to Hearts after loan spell)
Stephen Pearson (to Atletico de Kolkata, free transfer)
David Clarkson (to St Mirren, free transfer)
Robbie Leitch (to Burnley, undisclosed fee)
Josh Law (to Oldham Athletic, free transfer)
Louis Laing (to Notts County, short-term loan)
James McFadden (becomes assistant manager)
Marvin Johnson (to Oxford United, undisclosed fee)
Wes Fletcher (to the New Saints, free transfer)
Jack Leitch (released)
Brett Long (released)
Luke Watt (to Stranraer, short-term loan)

 

PARTICK THISTLE:

Alan Archibald pre-match (Partick Thistle v Celtic - 12th March 2016)
Survival specialists: The Jags will play their fourth successive season in Scotland’s top-flight under Archibald’s stewardship (Picture from Sky Sports)

IN:
Chris Erskine (from Dundee United, free transfer) *
Ade Azeez (from AFC Wimbledon, free transfer)
Danny Devine (from Inverness CT, free transfer)
David Syme (from Kilmarnock, free transfer)
Ziggy Gordon (from Hamilton Academical, free transfer)
David Crawford (from Alloa Athletic, free transfer)
Adam Barton (from Portsmouth, undisclosed fee)

OUT:
Aidan Nesbitt (returned to Celtic after loan spell)
Paul Gallacher (to Hearts, free transfer)
Frederic Frans (to Lierse, free transfer)
Danny Seaborne (to Hamilton Accies, free transfer)
Gary Miller (to Plymouth Argyle, free transfer)
Chris Duggan (to East Fife, free transfer)
Jordan Leyden (released)
Marc Waters (released)
Scot Whiteside (released)
Mathias Pogba (to Sparta Rotterdam, free transfer)

 

RANGERS:

Ibrox pre-match (v Kilmarnock Scottish Cup - 6th Feb 2016)
Long-awaited return: Scottish top-flight football will be played again at Ibrox for the first time since Rangers’ demotion in 2012 (Picture from Sky Sports)

IN:
Josh Windass (from Accrington Stanley, free transfer) *
Matt Crooks (from Accrington Stanley, free transfer) *
Jordan Rossiter (from Liverpool, undisclosed fee) *
Joey Barton (from Burnley, free transfer)
Clint Hill (from Queens Park Rangers, free transfer)
Niko Kranjcar (from New York Cosmos, free transfer)
Lee Hodson (from MK Dons, free transfer)
Matt Gilks (from Burnley, free transfer)
Joe Dodoo (from Leicester City, undisclosed fee)
Joe Garner (from Preston North End, undisclosed fee)
Philippe Senderos (from Grasshopper Club Zurich, free transfer)

OUT:
Nicky Law (to Bradford City, free transfer)
David Templeton (released)
Nicky Clark (to Bury, free transfer)
Dean Shiels (to Dundalk, free transfer)
Cammy Bell (to Dundee United, free transfer)
Lee Robinson (to Queen of the South, free transfer)
Tom Walsh (to St Mirren, on loan until January)
Luca Gasparotto (to Falkirk, free transfer)
Liam Kelly (to Livingston, season-long loan)
Gedion Zelalem (to Arsenal, end of loan spell)
Dominic Ball (to Tottenham, end of loan spell)
Andy Murdoch (released)

 

ROSS COUNTY:

Jim McIntyre (v Celtic League Cup semi-finals - 31st Jan 2016)
Memorable: Jim McIntyre guided the Staggies to their first major trophy in the League Cup and a sixth-placed finish last season (Picture from BBC Scotland)

IN:
Aaron McCarey (from Wolves, free transfer)
Christopher Routis (from Bradford City, free transfer)
Kenny van der Weg (from Breda, free transfer)
Erik Cikos (from Slovan Bratislava, free transfer)
Jay McEveley (from Sheffield United, free transfer)
Tim Chow (from Wigan Athletic, free transfer)

OUT:
Stewart Murdoch (to Dundee United, free transfer)
Rocco Quinn (to St Mirren, free transfer)
Jackson Irvine (to Burton Albion, undisclosed fee)
Gary Woods (to Leyton Orient, end of loan spell)
Raffaele De Vita (released)
Peter Tait (released)
Darren Moffat (released)
Richard Foster (to St Johnstone, free transfer)
Brian Graham (to Hibernian, free transfer)
Scott Boyd (to Kilmarnock, season-long loan)

 

ST JOHNSTONE:

McDiarmid Park (St Johnstone v Celtic - 14th February 2015)
Solid: St Johnstone have finished in the top six for five successive seasons and won the Scottish Cup in Tommy Wright’s first season in charge in 2014 (Picture from Sky Sports)

IN:
Paul Paton (from Dundee United, free transfer)
Blair Alston (from Falkirk, free transfer)
Michael Coulson (from York City, free transfer)
Keith Watson (from St Mirren, free transfer)
Richard Foster (from Ross County, free transfer)
Joe Gormley (from Peterborough United, season-long loan)

OUT:
Simon Lappin (released)
Scott Brown (released)
Jordan Millar (released)
Greg Kerr (released)
Michael Doyle (to Greenock Morton, free transfer)
Plamen Krachunov (released)
John Sutton (to St Mirren, free transfer)
Neil Martyniuk (to Edinburgh City, free transfer)
Darnell Fisher (to Celtic, end of loan spell)
Brad McKay (to Inverness CT, free transfer)

*  Pre-contract agreement previously arranged

Last updated:  31 August 2016

Alan Muir to referee Hearts v Celtic

Experienced referee Alan Muir will take charge of Celtic’s televised Scottish Premiership match with Hearts at Tynecastle in Saturday’s early kick-off.

Alan Muir - Aberdeen v Celtic (Sun 9th Nov 2014)
In the middle: Muir will take charge of his 12th Premiership match of the season in Gorgie this weekend (Picture from Sky Sports)

ALAN Muir will take charge of Celtic’s Scottish Premiership encounter with Hearts on Saturday.

The 40-year-old will be in the middle when the leaders visit the third-placed Jambos for the lunchtime kick-off at Tynecastle (12:30 BST, live on Sky Sports).

He will be assisted by Stuart Stevenson and Stephen Mitchell, while the fourth official is Andrew Dallas.

Muir has handled 32 games in all competitions so far this season – issuing 95 yellow cards, sending off five players and awarding seven penalties.

Alan Muir stats 2015-16 so far
Statistics: How Alan Muir’s season has panned out so far (Picture from Transfermarkt.com)

The Edinburgh whistler – who is a stock controller by trade – will oversee his third Celtic match of the campaign after their 1-0 away wins at Motherwell, in October, and Kilmarnock, as recently as March 19.

His first ever game involving the Hoops was a 1-1 draw at home to Falkirk in January 2010, in which he gave three yellow cards.

Overall, Muir has handled 20 Celtic matches – brandishing 60 bookings in total, five penalties (all to Celtic) and four red cards (two for Celtic).

He most notably took control of their 9-0 demolition of Aberdeen at Celtic Park in November 2010 when he awarded Celtic three penalties and sent off a player from each side.

Muir was also in the middle for the Hoops’ 6-0 victory over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park in April 2012, which sealed a first title in four years for the Glasgow giants in manager Neil Lennon’s second full season in charge.

The former Fifa official will take charge of his fifth Hearts game of 2015-16, a fourth in the league and makes a fourth trip to Tynecastle.

He has handled 16 matches involving the Jambos to date – dishing out 25 yellows and four reds to Hearts players, including Blazej Augustyn in their 2-0 win over Ross County in October.

Muir – who has been a referee since April 1992 – was first admitted to the Scottish FA list in June 1999 before being promoted to Category One status five years later.

He has been on the SPL list since the start of the 2008-09 campaign and was a Uefa Category One official between 2009 and 2011.

Muir has previously overseen one other match between Celtic and Hearts on the final day of the 2011-12 season, awarding the Hoops a penalty in their 5-0 win at Parkhead.

Alan Muir stood behind the goal
Unseen: Muir did not spot that Inverness defender Meekings had stopped Leigh Griffiths’ header on the line with his arm (Picture from Sky Sports)

He will be remembered by Celtic fans as the man behind the goal who failed to spot a Josh Meekings handball in their controversial Scottish Cup semi-final defeat by Inverness at Hampden Park last season.

Muir also fulfilled the same role for Celtic’s Scottish Cup exit to Old Firm rivals Rangers at the same stage on penalties earlier this month.

His most memorable moment of his 24-year officiating career was as an additional assistant for the 2011 Champions League quarter-final between Barcelona and Shakhtar Donetsk at the Nou Camp.

Ronny Deila’s champions-elect Celtic are four points away from securing a fifth successive title with four games remaining as they chase their third win over Hearts this season in league and cup.

The Jambos are eight points behind second-placed Aberdeen but have failed to score in their last two games, including last weekend’s 1-o defeat at Motherwell after which head coach Robbie Neilson apologised for his team’s display.

Referee Bobby Madden set for Celtic v Hearts

Bobby Madden will take charge of leaders Celtic’s Scottish Premiership encounter with third-placed Hearts in Saturday’s televised lunchtime kick-off.

Referee Bobby Madden issues a yellow card
Acquaintances: It will be the 11th occasion that Madden handles a league game involving either Celtic or Hearts this season (Picture from Sky Sports)

BOBBY Madden has been confirmed as the referee for Celtic’s televised Scottish Premiership encounter with Hearts on Saturday.

The 37-year-old will oversee the first top-flight game since the international break when the leaders host the third-placed side in the lunchtime kick-off (12:30 BST, live on Sky Sports).

He will be assisted by Graham Chambers and Graeme Leslie, while Nick Walsh is the fourth official at Celtic Park.

Lanarkshire-based Madden will take charge of his fourth Celtic game of the season and his seventh involving Hearts.

He was in the middle for the champions’ goalless draw with Kilmarnock in November and 2-1 defeat by Motherwell in December – both at home – as well as their 4-1 win at bottom-club Dundee United in January.

Meanwhile, Madden has handled Hearts’ 2-1 win at Ross County in August, 3-1 defeat by Aberdeen in September, 2-0 win over Hamilton in November, 3-2 win over Dundee United in December, goalless draw at Hamilton in January and 1-0 victory over Partick Thistle on March 5.

Overall, he has overseen 31 games in all competitions so far this season – issuing 107 yellow cards, sent off nine players and awarded nine penalties.

Bobby Madden's record in 2015-16 to date
Record: How Bobby Madden’s season has fared to date, with eight of his games being shown live on TV (Picture from Transfermarkt.com)

It will be the first time Madden will take charge of a fixture between the two sides who have enjoyed a long-running Scottish football feud in what is always an eagerly-awaited fixture on the calendar.

The previous three encounters this term – two draws in the league and Celtic’s League Cup win at Tynecastle in October – were officiated by fellow Fifa officials Steven McLean, John Beaton and Kevin Clancy.

Madden’s most recent appointment was in the top-flight in the Highland derby a fortnight ago as he handed out four bookings in Inverness’s 3-0 win over Ross County in Dingwall.

Last month, the East Kilbride-born official was named as an additional assistant referee as part of Willie Collum’s team of officials for the Euro 2016 tournament in France in the summer.

Bobby Madden looks on
Seeing red: Madden dismissed Hearts defender Igor Rossi in the stalemate at New Douglas Park on January 24 (Picture from Sky Sports)

It’s been a busy campaign for Madden, who has received 18 Premiership matches and is in contention for a third domestic cup semi-final of his career in the Scottish Cup in April.

His season highlights include five Europa League matches, a Euro 2016 qualifier between Russia and Liechtenstein, and the Petrofac Training Cup semi-final between Rangers and St Mirren at Ibrox.

His biggest achievement to date came a year ago when receiving the honour of officiating his first major final in the League Cup at Hampden Park and sent off Dundee United captain Sean Dillon in their 2-0 defeat by Celtic.

Bobby Madden is the man in the middle
On the continent: Madden has been on the Fifa list of international referees since 2010 (Picture from BBC Scotland)

Madden has also handled Premiership play-off final first leg ties in each of the last two seasons.

Domestically, he 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.

Madden 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.

Hearts would move to within six points of second-placed Aberdeen if head coach Robbie Neilson can mastermind a first win over the Hoops since the Jambos won 2-1 in April 2012 at Hampden Park in the Scottish Cup semis.

Ronny Deila’s Celtic – closing in on a fifth successive title – could go seven points clear at the top with a third straight league win before the Dons host Hamilton on Sunday.

Kevin Clancy before the 2016 Scottish League Cup Final
Man in charge: Clancy oversaw last month’s League Cup Final between Hibernian and Ross County (Picture from BBC Scotland)

That game at Pittodrie will be officiated by Kevin Clancy, who will also be in the middle for Celtic’s match at Dundee next Tuesday night – both will be screened live on BT Sport.

Meanwhile, Don Robertson will handle Partick Thistle’s home game with Kilmarnock as eighth welcomes 11th to Firhill on Saturday (KO 15:00 BST).

Elsewhere, Euro 2016-bound Collum will oversee a Premiership game for the third successive round of fixtures after missing three weekends to be taken out of the spotlight following a series of controversial decisions.

He will be in the middle for St Johnstone against Dundee United on Saturday and then Hearts’ trip to Inverness on Tuesday night.

Craig Thomson to referee Scottish Cup Edinburgh derby

Craig Thomson will take charge of his sixth Edinburgh derby when capital rivals Hearts and Hibernian lock horns for a place in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals at Tynecastle on Sunday.

Craig Thomson (League Cup semi Ross County v Celtic - 31st Jan 2016)
Close to home: Thomson was born in Edinburgh and grew up in the capital before moving north to Renfrewshire (Picture from BBC Scotland)

CRAIG Thomson will be the man in charge for the Scottish Cup fifth round tie between Edinburgh rivals Hearts and Hibernian this weekend.

The 43-year-old will oversee the marquee tie of the round when the Premiership club welcome the League Cup finalists to Tynecastle on Sunday lunchtime (KO 12:30 GMT, live on Sky Sports 2).

He will be assisted by linesmen Frank Connor and Andrew McWilliam, while Kevin Clancy – who refereed the last meeting between the sides – is the fourth official.

The vastly-experienced Thomson, from Renfrewshire, will handle his sixth Edinburgh derby in total and first since August 2013.

He has officiated 28 games in all competitions so far this season – brandishing 119 yellow cards, sending off six players and awarding 14 penalties.

The Paisley-based whistler was in the middle for Ross County’s 3-1 win over Celtic in last weekend’s eventful League Cup semi-final at Hampden Park.

Craig Thomson sends off Efe Ambrose (v Ross County)
Seeing red: Thomson gave Ambrose his marching orders after 13 minutes before County converted the resulting penalty (Picture from BBC Scotland)

He sent off Celtic defender Efe Ambrose for a last-man foul on Alex Schalk and pointed to the spot, but allowed Paul Quinn’s goal to stand despite an apparent foul by Schalk on Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon in the build-up.

County substitute Brian Graham was also harshly penalised for handball in the box for Leigh Griffiths’ missed penalty late on.

Thomson will oversee his fourth Hearts match of the campaign after their 2-1 win at Dundee in August, 3-2 League Cup victory at Kilmarnock in September and 1-0 defeat by Aberdeen in December, in which he penalised Jordon McGhee’s inexplicable handball for the late Dons spotkick.

His only Hibernian game of 2015-16 was their 2-1 Championship win over Livingston at Easter Road in November.

Craig Thomson (Dundee Utd v Celtic Scottish Cup - 8th Mar 15)
Last round: Thomson was in control of Partick Thistle’s 2-1 win over St Mirren in his home town of Paisley (Picture from Sky Sports)

Thomson will be remembered by fans of both clubs for taking charge of the 2012 Scottish Cup Final, during which he dismissed Hibs defender Pa Kujabi for a second yellow card and awarded Hearts a penalty for a foul which took place outside the box, with the score at 2-1.

Danny Grainger went on to convert the spotkick as Hearts ran out eventual 5-1 winners at the national stadium, with Thomson attracting criticism from the Hibs contingent for what they felt was a poor all-round display from the official.

Thomson, who was a construction lawyer before becoming a full-time official, is the most experienced of the current crop of Scottish referees having first taken up the whistle in 1988.

After two years in the Scottish Football League, he was promoted to the top-flight in 2002 and was elevated to the Fifa list just a year later.

Thomson was called up for the 2012 European Championships – his only major international tournament – but was overlooked for the 2014 World Cup and Willie Collum has been preferred as Scotland’s representative at Euro 2016.

Craig Thomson referee
For the big occasion: Thomson has handled three League Cup and three Scottish Cup finals as well as several semi-finals in both competitions (Picture from Sky Sports)

Hibernian won 1-0 at Easter Road in a fourth round tie in December 2012 when the two fierce rivals previously met in the Scottish Cup.

The Leith outfit also won 2-0 in the last meeting in the Championship last April although Hearts had already won the second-tier title.

Ahead of the 326th competitive derby, Hearts are third in the Premiership while Hibs sit eight points adrift of Championship leaders Rangers in second place.

Craig Thomson Edinburgh derby record (as of 2nd February 2016)

Given his history in this particular fixture, the appointment has not been welcomed by both sets of supporters…