Craig Thomson will be in the middle for Rangers against Motherwell at Ibrox, while Willie Collum has been appointed to Celtic’s fourth-round tie at Albion Rovers.
The heavyweights will be out in force as the match official appointments for the fourth round of the Scottish Cup have been announced.
Craig Thomson will take charge of the first tie of the weekend as Rangers face another Premiership side in Motherwell at Ibrox on Saturday (KO 12:30 GMT).
And fellow elite official Willie Collum will be in the middle for Celtic’s trip to League One Albion Rovers on Sunday – also live on Sky Sports – with kick-off at 15:00 GMT.
The other TV game will see John Beaton oversee Hearts’ match at Championship outfit Raith Rovers in front of the BBC Scotland cameras earlier on Sunday (KO 13:05 GMT).
Thomson makes Ibrox return
It will be the fourth time Thomson will encounter Rangers this season but his first trip to Ibrox for a year since giving them two penalties in their 4-1 win over Livingston on the way to the Championship title.
He will be assisted by Alan Mulvanny and Andrew McWilliam, with Stephen Finnie on fourth official duties.
Earlier this season, Thomson was involved in a bitter spat with pundit Chris Sutton, who called him a ‘bottler’ after opting not to send off Rangers midfielder Harry Forrester for a second bookable offence in their 2-1 success at Dens Park.
He was also branded ‘the Scottish butcher’ by angry Besiktas players after a controversial performance in their pivotal 6-0 defeat at Dynamo Kiev during the Champions League group stages.
Collum reunited with Celtic
Collum usually officiates Celtic on a monthly basis but it will only be the third occasion he will oversee the champions so far this term.
The 2015 Uefa Super Cup and Euro 2016 referee put in a fine display in their 5-1 thumping of Rangers at Parkhead in September.
But he was criticised by Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers for sending off Calum McGregor in their 1-1 draw at Hamilton on Christmas Eve.
It will be the first time the Religious Education teacher will be in the middle for an Albion Rovers game, which will be staged at Airdrie’s Excelsior Stadium to allow extra fans to watch – a stone’s throw from where he resides in North Lanarkshire.
He will be assisted by Michael Banks and John McCrossan, while Gavin Duncan will act as the fourth official.
To his credit, the notoriously card-happy Collum has rarely attracted controversy this term.
The only notable occasion came when he was slated by fans on social media after harshly penalising Jamie MacDonald for a perceived foul on James Maddison, which led to Aberdeen’s opening goal in their 4-0 win at Kilmarnock in October.
You can see the rest of the Scottish Cup match official appointments here.
Fifa referee Steven McLean will take charge of his first ever Old Firm derby when the two fierce Glasgow rivals meet on Hogmanay at Ibrox.
First Old Firm derby for Renfrewshire whistler McLean
First derby not officiated by Collum or Thomson since 2012
Second league meeting of the season
Celtic boss Rodgers’ first trip to Ibrox
Steven McLean will referee his first ever Old Firm derby in the televised New Year’s Eve lunchtime showdown, the Scottish FA has confirmed.
The highly-rated Fifa official has been given the difficult task of administering law and order in the Hogmanay meeting of bitter Glasgow rivals Rangers and Celtic (KO 12:15 BST, live on Sky Sports).
He will be assisted at Ibrox by Frank Connor and Douglas Ross – who were also the linesmen for September’s Celtic Park derby – while John Beaton will be keeping the peace in the dugout as the fourth official.
Collum and Thomson – Scotland’s only Uefa Elite Category officials – are the only referees among the current crop in the country who have previously experienced what is one of the most thankless tasks in world football.
So there is a certain level of responsibility on the shoulders of McLean, who has seemingly beaten off competition from Beaton and Bobby Madden to be appointed, in order to show that other officials are capable of rising to this particular challenge.
Only in an interview at the start of the season did McLean confidently insist the country’s whistlers can cope with the return of the unique Old Firm environment and there is enough strength in depth in terms of the number of leading match officials.
The 35-year-old has shown he can handle high-profile occasions in the 2014 League Cup Final at Celtic Park and last season’s dramatic Scottish Cup Final involving Rangers, after which he and his fellow match officials were caught up in an unsavoury pitch invasion.
McLean has been fourth official for two Old Firm derbies before but nothing can quite prepare him for his debut in the middle, with the Scottish Premiership’s top two desperate to sign off in 2016 with a winning feeling and bragging rights to boot.
The East Renfrewshire whistler endured an eventful afternoon in Rangers’ home win over Aberdeen at the start of the month, dishing out nine yellow cards and sending off both Gers defender Clint Hill and Dons skipper Ryan Jack in stoppage time.
Incidentally, McLean last encountered Celtic in a league match against the Dons at Pittodrie in October but many Hoops fans felt he allowed Aberdeen to apply too much rough treatment despite only brandishing five bookings in their side’s 1-0 victory.
They were the only occasions he has officiated either side in the league this term although McLean oversaw Rangers’ first competitive game of the campaign, in their 2-0 win at Motherwell in July in the Betfred Cup.
The officials – including an additional assistant referee positioned behind the goal – failed to spot a clear handball by Josh Meekings on the line before Hoops keeper Craig Gordon conceded a penalty and was sent off.
Celtic boss Ronny Deila was furious after the game with the first-half decision, which happened when his side led 1-0, and the club subsequently wrote to the Scottish FA but nothing came of their complaints.
Overall, he has brandished 95 yellow cards, sent off four players (three in the Premiership and all for second bookable offences) and awarded four penalties in 21 games in all competitions so far this season.
McLean – a Fifa referee since 2010 who refereed his first SPL game in November 2008 – is the older brother of former Ross County and Dundee United defender Brian McLean.
A qualified fitness instructor and physiotherapist, he is now employed full-time by the SFA as a referee recruitment and education officer.
Elsewhere, Willie Collum will be in the middle for Hearts against Aberdeen on Friday night as third and fourth in the table lock horns at Tynecastle.
You can see a full list of this weekend’s SPFL match official appointments here.
‘Horrendous and horrible’ – Fans react:
As is normally the case before any derby encounter, there is a lot of division among fans on social media – but most supporters of both teams have been largely united in being unimpressed with the choice of referee.
It's funny because Steven McLean is a horrendous referee.
Mark Warburton’s Rangers will be desperate to make home advantage count as they seek to record a first league win over their arch nemesis since a memorable 3-2 win over nine-man Celtic at Ibrox in March 2012.
But Celtic will have other ideas in their bid to increase their lead at the summit to a massive 19 points and simultaneously maintain their unbeaten domestic record this season under Brendan Rodgers.
Attention can now fully turn to the 404th meeting in one of world football’s oldest rivalries. Rangers know only a fifth league win in six games would be enough to keep alive their slim hopes of toppling Celtic, who have scored 11 goals in their last three away league games.
The Fifa whistler will take charge of his first major final at Hampden Park when Aberdeen and Celtic compete for the Betfred Cup at Hampden Park on November 27.
JOHN Beaton has been appointed as the referee for the 2016 Scottish League Cup Final at Hampden Park later this month.
The current top two in the Scottish Premiership will face off at the national stadium for the first domestic prize of the campaign in the Betfred Cup on Sunday, November 27 (KO 15:00 GMT, live on BT Sport).
He has so far brandished 91 yellow cards, sent off two players and awarded some 12 penalties – more than any other Scottish official.
His most recent outing was the 1-1 draw between Hibernian and Falkirk in the Championship, in which he booked five players and sent off Bairns midfielder Tom Taiwo against his old club early on at Easter Road.
With the score goalless at Dens Park, Dundee goalkeeper David Mitchell stumbled over his goalline as he caught McDonald’s first-half cross – but neither Beaton nor assistant referee Ross Haswell signalled for a goal.
The 34-year-old has encountered both Aberdeen and Celtic twice each already in the top-flight.
He sent off Partick Thistle skipper Sean Welsh in the Dons’ 2-1 win in August, before awarding a contentious free-kick late on which led to their winning goal in their victory over Rangers a month later by the same scoreline and left Gers boss Mark Warburton raging at him on the pitch.
And, in an eventful Premiership match between St Johnstone and Hearts, Beaton booked Saints strikers Chris Kane and Graham Cummins for diving and sent Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson to the stands for an apparent sarcastic clap towards him.
Beaton, from Motherwell, who first became a referee in 1997, has handled two League Cup semis, two Scottish Cup semis including one last season, and been an additional assistant referee for two Scottish Cup Finals.
Beaton, whose cousin Steven Nicholls is also a referee, hit the headlines last year when he was headbutted during a volatile derby in Saudi Arabia between Al Hilal and Al Nasr – during which he issued three red cards.
Derek McInnes, who suffered his first defeat as Dons boss against Celtic in 2013, will be hoping his side can emulate their two home wins over the Hoops last season but Celtic will be desperate to secure their first silverware under Rodgers.
But Rangers boss Mark Warburton was furious with the award of the decisive free-kick – when James Tavernier was booked despite appearing to poke the ball away from Hayes – and angrily confronted referee John Beaton on the pitch after the full-time whistle.
It leaves the Gers seventh in the table with nine points from seven league games – in which they have conceded the first goal in five of them.
But despite a respectable display and his side boasting 63 per cent possession, Warburton must be concerned as their winless run in the Scottish Premiership stretches to four games.
Nevertheless, it was a fantastic spectacle for the neutral – featuring nine yellow cards – as a long-awaited first meeting since January 2012 saw one of Scottish football’s most bruising rivalries renewed.
As predicted, there was a frantic and fast tempo to the opening exchanges in front of a near full house at Pittodrie, with both sides – who reached the Betfred Cup semi-finals in midweek – taking time to settle into a rhythm.
Harry Forrester’s shot deflected behind by Anthony O’Connor before an Adam Rooney effort at the other end was blocked by Danny Wilson – illustrating both sets of defences were on top in the first period.
The first flashpoint took 10 minutes to arise when Joe Garner took offence to a foul on him by O’Connor, but referee Beaton handled the situation well, reminding them in no uncertain terms who was in charge.
A lack of control early on was emphasised by Garner’s needless sliding challenge on Hayes, which earned him a yellow card.
The ex-Preston striker made his presence felt throughout and he should have done better when heading Tavernier’s delightful cross over the crossbar on 17 minutes.
Tavernier’s free-kick from 20 yards couldn’t a way past the Aberdeen wall before Joe Lewis was required to make an excellent save, scampering across his goalline after Garner’s wayward shot looped up off Shay Logan’s foot and was bound for the bottom corner.
Jason Holt – on his 50th Rangers appearance – rifled a half volley straight at Lewis after Garner missed his kick from Tavernier’s cutback before Barrie McKay curled off target on his right foot.
Aberdeen sat deep for long periods and struggled to carve out any kind of chances, with a Kenny McLean drive tipped over superbly by Foderingham the closest they came.
But after a first half lacking in goalscoring opportunities, the second period exploded into life as the Dons – who introduced Maddison for Peter Pawlett at the interval – drew first blood in no time at all.
A simple long ball forward by Lewis was flicked on by Rooney into the path of the onrushing Hayes, who easily escaped the Rangers defence to slot underneath Foderingham.
The Gers mustered a positive reply as Halliday’s free-kick flashed across the face of goal and drifted wide, before Wallace fired over from range but an effective end product continued to desert them.
Aberdeen largely offered a sporadic threat on the counter thereafter but remained a solid unit to thwart the Gers, who sent on Niko Kranjcar and Michael O’Halloran in place of Forrester and Waghorn.
Hayes got clear again down the left and his low effort was denied by Foderingham at the near post, after the Dons soaked up a sustained period of pressure.
But the Irish winger was at fault after bringing down the marauding Wallace, who was released in behind by substitute Kenny Miller.
It gave Rangers fan Halliday the chance to step up and send Lewis the wrong way from the spot, for his second goal in as many games.
From then on, Aberdeen pressed for a winner and, as the end of normal time approached, 19-year-old Maddison supplied it in dramatic fashion with the deadliest of free-kicks – surely a goal of the season contender.
Rangers desperately tried to respond but time was against them as they suffered their second league defeat of the season, while the Dons recorded a first win over the men from Govan since 2009.
Substitutes: Maddison (on for Pawlett 45′), Burns (on for McGinn 78′) and Taylor (on for Rooney 90+1). Not used: Alexander (GK), Storey, Storie, Stockley. Booked: Hayes, McLean, Shinnie, Reynolds, O’Connor
Substitutes: Kranjcar (on for Forrester 63′), O’Halloran (on for Waghorn 69′) and Miller (on for Garner 77′). Not used: Gilks (GK), Hodson, Senderos, Dodoo. Booked: Garner, Wilson, Kranjcar, Tavernier
Referee: John Beaton – 7/10 Assistant referees: Dougie Potter and Andrew McWilliam Fourth official: Don Robertson
Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes:
“It was a sensational winner. The players fought hard for that. First half, I was really annoyed with how we played. Getting the [Jonny Hayes] goal gives the players that belief and confidence to go and get the win. They [Rangers] get a lifeline with the penalty kick. Wee James [Maddison], what a free-kick. We should be shouting from the rooftops with how good that is. We deserved the three points.”
Rangers boss Mark Warburton:
“We dominated the ball first half completely but went in at half-time frustrated it was 0-0. We gave away a schoolboy goal and for three or four minutes we looked a bit rocky. We lost our composure then got the ball down, then played. We got our rewards via the penalty and I thought there was (only) one team in it. I said to (assistant) Davie Weir we’d be frustrated to only get a point here when we have come and delivered a really good performance. I am never happy to drop a point, never mind three. I will be careful what I say about the free-kick. Everyone saw the ball move. The fourth official on the sidelines saw the ball move and made a comment. And yet a free-kick is given.”
“We’re obviously very disappointed. I think the first half we played very well and over the last couple of games we have played well but we need to start picking up points now. You could say that we dominated or that we were the better side but that happens in football. We just have to try to take our chances and be positive.”
Huge win for #Aberdeen. #Rangers should be concerned that they couldn't beat a side who were poor for most of the match.
Last month, he dished out a massive 11 yellow cards and awarded Hearts a controversial spotkick when Jamie Walker appeared to dive over Kieran Tierney in their 2-1 defeat by champions Celtic at Tynecastle on the opening weekend of the Premiership season.
The Motherwell official, who first became a referee in 1997, 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.
A Category One official since 2009, he has established himself as a regular in the Scottish Premiership since his first game – Dundee United’s 3-0 win over Dunfermline in March 2012 – and is one of seven Scottish referees on Fifa’s international list.
Beaton, whose cousin Steven Nicholls is also a referee, hit the headlines last year when he was headbutted during a volatile derby in Saudi Arabia between Al Hilal and Al Nasr – during which he issued three red cards.
It will be the second time the Lanarkshire-based whistler will encounter both teams in 2016-17 already.
Beaton was in the middle for Aberdeen’s 2-1 win over Partick Thistle at Pittodrie on August 20, in which he sent off Thistle captain Sean Welsh who showed dissent towards him to earn a second yellow late on.
He also gave the Gers an early spotkick on their way to a 3-0 win over Stranraer at Ibrox in July’s Betfred Cup group phase in the first round.
Sunday’s televised contest will see one of Scottish football’s most intense feuds resume as the Dons and the Gers lock horns for the first time since a 1-1 draw at Ibrox in the top-flight in January 2012.
With so much time having passed, only Craig Thomson and Willie Collum have officiated a game between the sides out of the current crop of Scottish referees.
Heading into the weekend, Derek McInnes’s side and Mark Warburton’s Gers boast almost identical records – with nine points from six games – and sit fifth and sixth respectively in the table.
Nick Walsh will take charge of his first Celtic game when the champions host Kilmarnock at Parkhead on Saturday (KO 15:00 BST).
The 30-year-old is seemingly in favour with the SFA at the moment, with this his fourth top-flight refereeing appointment of the season already, having only been promoted to Category One over the summer.
But it is a reflection of his lenient and consistent start to the campaign – he has only brandished six yellow cards in his three other Premiership games, which unusually have all been won by a 2-0 scoreline.
But he was public enemy number one at Easter Road last weekend as Ayr shocked Hibernian with a 2-1 victory after Hibs midfielder Marvin Bartley became his first red card victim of the season for a challenge on Jamie Adams.
The decision came at a crucial time and led Hibs boss Neil Lennon to blame what he described as “a poor refereeing performance” for the Championship title favourites’ loss.
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.
The Glasgow-born official was a regular in the Championship and fourth official for numerous Premiership games in the last two seasons.
Walsh will be assisted by Graham Chambers, Alasdair Ross and fourth official Stephen Finnie, with Willie Young keeping a close eye on his display as the SPFL referee observer.
He has so far stayed under the spotlight in his top-flight assignments but could be in for a tougher afternoon with more focus on the champions and every call under close scrutiny.
Despite leading the table by three points, Brendan Rodgers’s Celtic will want to bounce back after losing their 100 per cent league record in last weekend’s 2-2 draw at Inverness.
Meanwhile, Lee Clark’s Kilmarnock, who survived the play-offs last season, sit ninth heading into the weekend with six points from as many games and will hope to replicate their goalless draw in Glasgow last term.
You can view the rest of this weekend’s SPFL match official appointments here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fredy Fautrel will take charge of West Ham’s first-ever Olympic Stadium game, while Andre Marriner and Andrew Dallas are also in Europa League action.
Fredy Fautrel to ref West Ham’s first Olympic Stadium match
Andre Marriner leads English officiating team in Cyprus
Bulgaria’s Nikola Popov in charge of Aberdeen second leg
Scottish whistlers John Beaton and Andrew Dallas handed games
Simon Lee Evans of Wales also in action
FRENCH referee Fredy Fautrel will take charge of West Ham United’s first ever game at their new Olympic Stadium home on Thursday night.
Elsewhere, England’s Andre Marriner will be the man in the middle for the tie between Cypriot side Apollon Limassol and Swiss outfit Grasshopper Club Zurich (KO 18:00 BST).
Bulgarian official Nikola Popov will take charge of Aberdeen’s decisive second leg against Maribor in Slovenia (KO 19:15 BST).
John Beaton will handle Croatian side Hadjuk Split against Ukrainian outfit FC Oleksandriya (KO 19:30 BST), while fellow Scot Andrew Dallas has been assigned to Portuguese club Rio Ave at home to Slavia Prague of the Czech Republic (KO 20:00 BST).
Welsh referee Simon Lee Evans will be in charge of FK Mlada Boleslav of the Czech Republic against Macedonian outfit KF Shkendija (KO 18:00 BST).
Fautrel will take charge as the Hammers look to overturn their 2-1 first-leg deficit against Slovenian minnows NK Domzale in the Europa League third qualifying round (KO 20:05 BST).
The 44-year-old will be assisted for the second leg by fellow countrymen Cyril Gringore and Julien Pacelli, with Lionel Jaffredo the fourth official.
Avranches-born Fautrel – a Fifa referee since 2007 – was an additional assistant referee as part of Clement Turpin’s team of officials at Euro 2016 in his home country during the summer.
Fautrel – a bank manager based in Basse-Normandie – hasn’t previously ventured beyond the second qualifying round of the competition and will oversee his first game since the final day of the Ligue 1 season on May 14.
Slaven Bilic’s Hammers moved from Upton Park to the 60,000-capacity stadium in Stratford, east London, at the end of last season. Their first Premier League game at the ground will be against Bournemouth on August 21.
Marriner, from the West Midlands, will oversee his first game of the 2016-17 campaign as he returns to action after a break having been an additional assistant referee at Euro 2016.
Marriner oversaw 36 matches in all competitions last season – brandishing 124 yellow cards, five red cards and awarding 13 penalties.
The Sheldon-based whistler has handled 17 Europa League matches altogether and five Champions League qualifiers to date.
He received two Europa League group games last season – Lazio’s 2-0 victory at Rosenborg BK and Legia Warsaw’s 1-0 win over Midtjylland – and the play-off round tie between FK Gabala and Greek side Panathinaikos.
Marriner will be assisted at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia by Simon Beck and Harry Lennard, with Kevin Friend in control of electronic board duties as fourth official.
Popov had never ventured beyond the Europa League first qualifying round before handling the Champions League second qualifying round match between Irish side Dundalk and Hafnarfjordur of Iceland.
The 33-year-old, who was promoted to a Uefa Second Category official last December, dished out five yellow cards in the 1-1 draw on July 13.
He also oversaw his first game of the new domestic season and issued five bookings in CSKA Sofia’s 2-0 win over Slavia Sofia in Bulgaria’s Parva Liga.
The Sofia-based whistler, who has been a Fifa referee since 2012, will be assisted by Veselin Dobriyanov and Georgi Todorov, and fourth official Nikolay Yordanov – all of Bulgaria.
Derek McInnes’s Dons know they must score at the Stadion Ljudski vrt if they are to progress after the Scottish Premiership team drew 1-1 in last week’s first leg at Pittodrie.