2018 Scottish Cup final: Kevin Clancy to referee Celtic v Motherwell

X will take charge of the showpiece at Hampden Park on Saturday 19 May.

Referee Kevin Clancy
Maiden: Kevin Clancy will take charge of his first Scottish Cup final (Picture from Sky Sports)

KEVIN Clancy will be the referee for the 2018 Scottish Cup final between Celtic and Motherwell, the Scottish FA has confirmed.

The 34-year-old will take charge of the showpiece at Hampden Park on Saturday 19 May. The 15:00 BST kick-off will be screened live on both Sky Sports and BBC One Scotland.

Clancy will be assisted by Douglas Ross and David Roome, as he was for Motherwell’s 3-0 win over Aberdeen in the semi-finals, with Steven McLean on fourth official duties.

Don Robertson and Nick Walsh will act as additional assistant referees, as they did for Celtic’s 4-0 semi-final win over Rangers which Bobby Madden refereed.

Walsh also fulfilled the same role in last year’s final, while Robertson did so in the 2015 showpiece – which was the first to utilise the extra officials behind each goal.

Ross infuriated Celtic fans when he was caught on camera shouting “red, red, red” before Jozo Simunovic was sent off in their 3-2 Old Firm derby win over Rangers at Ibrox in March.

The assistant referee, who has also been the Conservative MP for Moray since June 2017, will officiate in his second Scottish Cup final after being part of Willie Collum’s team for Celtic’s 3-0 win over Hibernian in 2015.

His fellow linesman Roome will experience his second final of the campaign, having assisted referee Andrew Dallas for the Challenge Cup final in March as Inverness beat Dumbarton 1-0 at St Johnstone’s McDiarmid Park.

Meanwhile, McLean was the referee for the 2016 Scottish Cup final when Hibernian beat Rangers 3-2 in a game marred by supporters invading the pitch at full-time, with both clubs later cleared of any wrongdoing.


A BIG DAY FOR CLANCY

Referee Kevin Clancy
Regular: Clancy is in his sixth season as a top-flight referee in Scotland (Picture from Sky Sports)

It is arguably the biggest appointment of Clancy’s career to date as he takes charge of his first Scottish Cup final – the game which is considered to be the pinnacle of a Scottish referee’s career.

The Glasgow-born official will oversee his third major final, after handling the 2014 Challenge Cup final when Raith Rovers stunned Rangers with a 1-0 win at Hibernian’s Easter Road, and the 2016 League Cup final when Ross County beat Hibs 2-1 at Hampden Park.

He has also been the fourth official for two League Cup finals, has refereed several quarter-final and semi-final ties in domestic cup competitions and was an additional assistant referee for the 2014 Scottish Cup final, when St Johnstone beat Dundee United 2-0 at Celtic Park.

Therefore, his considerable big-game experience should stand him in good stead when the pressure will be at fever pitch on cup final day.

Clancy has seemingly been preferred to John Beaton, who was the only other Fifa referee yet to take charge of the showpiece but has connections to Lanarkshire, where Motherwell are situated.

As he has been given the weekend off for the final round of Scottish Premiership games and hasn’t yet been involved in the SPFL play-offs, he has plenty of time to prepare for the clash at the national stadium – which takes place on the same day as the Emirates FA Cup final in England.


HIS SEASON SO FAR

Despite a period of absence through injury, Clancy has continued to make giant strides during what has been another largely successful season for the promising whistler.

He has maintained his presence on the European stage, taking charge of Under-19 and Under-21 European Championship qualifiers, two Uefa Youth League group games and Europa League qualifiers, as well as being an additional assistant referee in the Champions League and Europa League.

On the domestic front, Clancy has been restricted to 15 Scottish Premiership matches because of his spell on the sidelines but still handled semi-finals in both major cup competitions, involving both sides he will encounter on 19 May.

He was in the middle for Celtic’s 4-2 win over Hibernian in the League Cup in October, in which he awarded Hibs a spotkick, and put in a good display as Motherwell swept aside Aberdeen with a 3-0 win in the Scottish Cup last month to reach the final – having already refereed a League Cup quarter-final between the sides in September which resulted in the same scoreline.

The Hampden season finale will be his fourth game in the Scottish Cup this season – after handling Hearts’ 1-0 win over Edinburgh rivals Hibernian at Tynecastle in round four, the Jambos’ 3-0 success against St Johnstone in the fifth round and the aforementioned victory for Motherwell against the Dons.

Clancy has already overseen a game between both finalists this term, booking four players as Celtic thumped Motherwell 5-1 at Celtic Park in the league at the start of December.

In February, he 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.

Overall, he has refereed 40 games across eight different competitions so far in 2017/18 – brandishing 167 yellow cards, sending off five players and awarding seven penalties.

Celtic have only lost one of their 26 games with Clancy in charge – winning 23 and drawing twice. That solitary defeat, however, did come in their last match with the official at the helm – their 1-0 defeat at Kilmarnock at the start of February.

Meanwhile, Motherwell have a more mixed record with the Fifa referee in charge – winning half of their 20 games that Clancy has refereed in all competitions, drawing three and losing seven.


HOW HE HAS REACHED THIS STAGE

Referee Kevin Clancy
Established: Clancy has long since secured his status among Scotland’s leading contingent of referees (Picture from BBC Scotland)

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

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

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

Clancy recently missed out on a place in Willie Collum’s team of officials for Euro 2016 in France in the summer, with Bobby Madden and John Beaton instead selected as additional assistant referees.

He has handled several Europa League games and been behind the goal in Champions League matches, and is widely regarded as a lenient referee who keeps control of games and rarely attracts controversy.


SOCIAL MEDIA REACTION

There hasn’t been much reaction to the news on Twitter as of yet, with most Motherwell fans seemingly relieved that it’s not Craig Thomson in charge.

Here are some responses…


LAST 10 SCOTTISH CUP FINAL REFEREES

Craig Thomson and Willie Collum
Experienced: Five of the last 10 Scottish Cup finals have been refereed by Fifa officials Craig Thomson (left) and Willie Collum (Pictures from Sky Sports)

2017: Bobby Madden – Celtic 2 Aberdeen 1
2016: Steven McLean – Rangers 2 Hibernian 3
2015: Willie Collum – Inverness 2 Falkirk 1
2014: Craig Thomson – St Johnstone 2 Dundee United 0 (Celtic Park)
2013: Willie Collum – Hibernian 0 Celtic 3
2012: Craig Thomson – Hibernian 1 Hearts 5
2011: Calum Murray – Motherwell 0 Celtic 3
2010: Dougie McDonald – Dundee United 3 Ross County 0
2009: Craig Thomson – Rangers 1 Falkirk 0
2008: Stuart Dougal – Queen of the South 2 Rangers 3


CELTIC ON CUSP OF DOUBLE TREBLE

The Hoops have the opportunity to complete an unprecedented feat of winning back-to-back Trebles – consisting of the Premiership title, League Cup and Scottish Cup.

Celtic wrapped up a seventh consecutive league crown by thrashing Old Firm rivals Rangers 5-0 at Hampden Park at the end of April and beat Motherwell 2-0 at the national stadium in the final of the League Cup back in November, thanks to a James Forrest strike and Moussa Dembele penalty.

Dembele’s trophy-clinching second goal from the spot came as the result of a controversial incident, as Motherwell’s French defender Cedric Kipre was given his marching orders by referee Craig Thomson for the feintest of brushes on Scott Sinclair inside the box.

Now only the men from Fir Park stand in the way of yet more history for Celtic and Brendan Rodgers, who has already won every domestic trophy available to him since arriving at Parkhead in the summer of 2016.

But Stephen Robinson’s Motherwell can take some encouragement from their most recent meeting with the champions, having held them to a goalless draw at Fir Park in March, despite playing with 10 men since the 41st minute when Kipre was again dismissed by ref Thomson.

Celtic are already the most successful side in the history of the Scottish Cup – having reached the final of the famous old competition for the 57th time and they are looking for a 38th triumph.

The Hoops had to come from behind to beat Aberdeen 2-1 in last season’s final, which was refereed by Bobby Madden, thanks to a late goal from Tom Rogic.

This year’s showpiece is a repeat of the 2011 Scottish Cup final, which the Hoops won 3-0 under Neil Lennon – a game refereed by the now retired official Calum Murray.


POLL: Have your say by casting your vote below…

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…

We’re down to the final four in the world’s oldest cup competition but who do you think will make it back to Hampden for the final on Saturday 19 May?

Cast your vote now in the poll…

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 Cup: Thomson and Collum to referee Rangers and Celtic

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.

craig-thomson-and-willie-collum
Centre stage: Thomson (left) and Collum have attracted controversy in the past but have represented Scotland well on the European and international scene (Pictures from Sky Sports)

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

Craig Thomson referee
Veteran: Thomson is the longest-serving of the current crop of Scottish officials having refereed his first top-flight match in May 2002 (Picture from Sky Sports)

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.

The vastly-experienced whistler handled their 2-1 win at Dundee in August, 1-0 loss to Celtic in the Old Firm League Cup semi-final, and 2-0 defeat at Hearts in November.

His only Motherwell matches were their 2-1 victory at Kilmarnock on the opening weekend and 1-1 draw at Partick Thistle in September.

Overall, the trained lawyer from Renfrewshire has brandished 95 yellow cards, sent off seven players and awarded six penalties in 24 games in all competitions.

Thomson has previously officiated three Scottish Cup Finals – including Rangers’ 1-0 victory over Falkirk in the 2009 showpiece at Hampden.

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

willie-collum-with-erik-sviatchenko-v-hamilton-24th-dec-2016
Spotlight: Collum has largely stayed under the radar after being dropped for a period last term following a number of contentious decisions (Picture from Sky Sports)

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.

In 27 matches across six competitions this season, Glasgow-born Collum has dished out 89 bookings, issued five red cards and pointed to the penalty spot nine times.

The 37-year-old has handled two Scottish Cup Finals – the first of which was Celtic’s 3-0 win over Hibernian in 2013.

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.

Scottish Premiership: Motherwell close in on National League winger

Mark McGhee could make Forest Green Rovers star Elliot Frear his first signing of the January transfer window.

mark-mcghee-before-ko-v-celtic-15th-may-2016
Lacking in depth: McGhee has limited options in the wide areas and lost Marvin Johnson to Oxford United last summer (Picture from Sky Sports)

Scottish Premiership side Motherwell are reportedly closing in on the signing of one of the National League’s most sought after players.

Winger Elliot Frear has been a key component this season for a Forest Green Rovers currently second in the fifth tier of English football and challenging for a return to the Football League.

The 26-year-old has made 19 appearances this season but apparently took a Diego Costa and Dimitri Payet like stance by refusing to play in Saturday’s 2-0 FA Trophy win at Chester, amid growing speculation he is about to make a move north of the border.

Speaking about Frear’s absence, Forest Green boss Mark Cooper said: “Elliot has said he doesn’t want to play for the club anymore and we have to move on.

“There has now been interest as far as I know and we need players that want to be with us going forward.”

But in his defence, Frear tweeted: “Just to confirm I haven’t refused to play today, still struggling from injury last weekend. I’m a professional & would never refuse to play.”

The Englishman, who was linked with a switch to League Two Cheltenham in the summer, began his career with Exeter City before moving to Salisbury City in 2014.

A former England C international, Frear then signed a two-year contract at the New Lawn the following year and helped Forest Green reach the National League Promotion Final last season, when they lost 3-1 to Grimsby Town at Wembley.

He is set to become the Steelmen’s first signing of the January transfer window as Mark McGhee looks to boost his squad before next weekend’s Scottish Cup fourth round tie against Rangers at Ibrox.

With the Scottish top-flight currently on a three-week winter break, Motherwell lie ninth in the table, two points behind sixth-placed Ross County, but will be hopeful of securing a top-half finish in the second half of the season.

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