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 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.
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.
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.
Mark McGhee could make Forest Green Rovers star Elliot Frear his first signing of the January transfer window.
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.”
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.
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.
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:
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
A look-ahead to the six fixtures taking place on the opening weekend of the 2015-16 Scottish Premiership season including champions Celtic at home to Ross County and newly-promoted Hearts against St Johnstone.
After a summer of transfer activity, pre-season friendlies and European exploits, the 12 top-flight teams are preparing to return to Scottish Premiership action this weekend.
Nine months of drama, excitement and controversy lie ahead in what promises to be an exciting 2015/16 season at the top and bottom – and it all starts with the opening round of fixtures which include some intriguing match-ups.
Celtic are gearing up for a fifth successive league crown, Inverness are looking to build on winning their first major trophy in the Scottish Cup last term and Hearts are back in the top-flight following a one-year absence after romping to the Championship title.
Indeed, Celtic, Aberdeen and Inverness have already been flying the flag for Scotland in Champions League and Europa League qualification respectively with Caley Thistle falling at the first hurdle in their maiden European venture.
Although there are no managerial debuts, Hamilton player-coach Martin Canning, Kilmarnock’s Gary Locke, Motherwell boss Ian Baraclough and Ross County’s Jim McIntyre are embarking on their first full season in charge at their respective clubs.
The SPFL programme began in earnest last Saturday in the first round of the Petrofac Training Cup and Championship, League One and League Two clubs will be in League Cup action over the weekend.
But the focus will undoubtedly be on the eagerly-anticipated return of top-flight football in the newly-named Ladbrokes Premiership as Scottish football supporters get the first glimpse of players at new clubs and make initial judgements about how the campaign may unfold.
Ladbrokes Premiership – Opening Weekend Fixtures:
Saturday 1st August Celtic v Ross County KO 12:45pm (Live on Sky Sports)
Saturday 1st August Hamilton v Partick Thistle KO 3pm
Saturday 1st August Kilmarnock v Dundee KO 3pm
Saturday 1st August Inverness CT v Motherwell KO 3pm
Sunday 2nd August Hearts v St Johnstone KO 12:30pm (Live on BT Sport)
Sunday 2nd August Dundee Utd v Aberdeen KO 3:30pm (Live on Sky Sports)
CELTIC v ROSS COUNTY Celtic Park
Celtic will unfurl the Scottish Premiership flag before beginning their quest for a fifth successive league title against Ross County in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off.
Deila has openly targeted a domestic treble – as well as reaching the Champions League group stages – having come close to securing a first Celtic clean sweep since 2001 last term but for a controversial Scottish Cup semi-final defeat to eventual winners Inverness.
The Staggies are starting their fourth successive season in Scotland’s top-flight – and first full campaign under manager Jim McIntyre – after narrowly avoiding the two-legged play-off final last term with a final-day win over Kilmarnock securing a ninth-place finish.
County failed to score a single goal in any of their three encounters with the champions last term – the Hoops won 5-0 and 1-0 at the Global Energy Arena while the sides drew a blank at Celtic Park.
Charlie Mulgrew and Kris Commons are likely to be on the bench after recovering from a knee injury and broken toe respectively and Emilio Izaguirre is also suspended for five yellow cards at the end of last season.
Ross County’s only absentee is defender Jamie Reckord, who has an Achilles problem, while several of their 12 summer signings should make their debuts.
Since then, inexperienced defender Canning took over the managerial reins and presided over a 13-game winless run with just three victories in 18 games in charge as they slipped into the bottom six.
Now with Hearts, Kilmarnock and Ross County seemingly getting stronger, both Accies and Saturday’s opponents Thistle are considered by many to be the deepest in trouble.
Alan Archibald’s Thistle displayed their usual Achilles heel – inconsistency – last term to finish directly underneath Accies in eighth place having lost more games than they won.
But their safety was only secured in the latter weeks of the campaign and the Jags will be desperate to reach the 40-point mark as quickly as possible although it will be no easy feat having lost several key players including Kallum Higginbotham, Scott Fox and James Craigen.
The Dark Blues, however, went on to achieve manager Paul Hartley’s top-six aim but ended up with fewer points than Hamilton and Partick Thistle – who finished seventh and eighth respectively – after six defeats in their last seven league games.
Having mainly recruited from the lower divisions of Scottish football, Hartley will be hoping those players can step up to the higher level if they are to avoid being embroiled in relegation trouble or mid-table mediocrity.
Kilmarnock, meanwhile, will be optimistic ahead of Gary Locke’s first full season in charge that a first top-six finish in five years is a realistic possibility ahead of what is expected to be another tight tussle near the bottom.
Victory for either side at Rugby Park would be a huge boost ahead of tricky fixtures ahead with Dundee travelling down Tannadice Street to close neighbours Dundee United and Killie hosting champions Celtic on matchday three.
Kilmarnock midfielder Craig Slater is recovering from double hernia surgery and will miss several weeks.
Dundee pair Kostadin Gadzhalov and Nicky Low are missing through injury and James McPake is suspended.
Sustaining such success and dealing with expectation will be a tough task for Caley Thistle – who won half of their 38 league games last term – without the departed Graeme Shinnie, Marley Watkins and Nick Ross while most of their summer imports are unproven names from abroad.
The Steelmen have refreshed their squad with another hefty player turnover and are still on the lookout for players – with a bid believed to be rejected for St Patrick’s midfielder Greg Bolger on Friday – but the Lanarkshire outfit appear to be in a more healthier position and should be competing further up the table this time around.
Motherwell have, though, lost on three of their last four trips to the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium but did come out on top against Caley Thistle at Fir Park in their last meeting in February.
Hearts will unfurl the Scottish Championship flag before opening their Premiership season against St Johnstone at Tynecastle.
The newly-promoted Jambos secured an immediate top-flight return by comfortably winning the second-tier title last term ahead of Rangers and Edinburgh rivals Hibernian in head coach Robbie Neilson’s first season at the helm.
Free-flowing attacking football and a reliance on home-grown talent were the prerogatives for the Edinburgh outfit, scoring 96 goals and losing just three games to finish 21 points above their nearest challengers.
Despite a mixed pre-season and bringing in only a small number of new players, Hearts will undoubtedly be well prepared for the task ahead and confident of making an impact rather than simply avoiding the pathway back to the Championship.
First up is a St Johnstone side who have had several weeks to regroup after falling at the first hurdle in the Europa League having qualified by virtue of Inverness winning the Scottish Cup.
Tommy Wright’s men have now finished in the top-six in the past four seasons and clinched fourth place last term after losing just one of their last nine league matches.
The 2014 Scottish Cup winners can pose a serious threat on their day and have bolstered their numbers with SPL know-how in the shape of Motherwell’s top scorer last season John Sutton, a return for Liam Craig and defender Brad McKay from Saturday’s opponents Hearts.
Hearts remain without Soufian El Hassnaoui and Miguel Pallardo but Prince Buaben is available after being rested for Thursday’s League Cup win over Arbroath.
Nigeria left-back Juwon Oshaniwa has not yet complete his protracted move.
St Johnstone duo Simon Lappin and Frazer Wright have recovered from knocks but Steven MacLean is suspended and Liam Caddis joins long-term absentees Steven Anderson, Dave Mackay and Murray Davidson on the sidelines.
Aberdeen have been beaten on three of their last four trips to the City of Discovery with the latest defeat carrying plenty of significance – the 1-0 loss in May confirmed Celtic as champions thus ending the Dons’ brave title tilt.
But Derek McInnes’s men finished only 17 points behind the Hoops in comparison to 31 the year before and have added quality if not quantity so far in the transfer window to aid their Europa League mission with Scottish Cup winner Graeme Shinnie the stand-out purchase.
The Dons will undoubtedly be the sharper of the two teams having already played five European ties since the start of July but could also be plagued by mental and physical fatigue after making the longest Uefa journey of some 3,415 miles to Kazakhstan on Thursday night.
Kenny McLean’s away goal in the 2-1 defeat to Kairat Almaty means a place in the play-off round would be theirs with a 1-0 win at Pittodrie in next week’s second leg. But for the moment, the Scottish Premiership runners-up will be hoping to make a victorious start to league business and build on what was their best top-flight finish since 1994.
Indeed, both teams will be desperate to make a winning start in a bid to close the gap between themselves and Celtic, who they are expected to challenge more robustly this time around.
Dundee United trio Ryan Dow, Callum Morris and Paul Paton are nursing injuries picked up in pre-season while Croatian striker Darko Bodul will be competing with Simon Murray, Mario Bilate and Robbie Muirhead for places in attack for the home side.
Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes has confirmed he may make several changes following his side’s Europa League trip to Kazakhstan this week.
Defender Mark Reynolds is a long-term absentee as he recovers from shoulder surgery picked up in the European tie with Rikeja.
Rangers defender Bilel Mohsni punched and kicked Motherwell striker Lee Erwin as unsavoury scenes broke out after the Steelmen’s 3-0 win at Fir Park which retained their Scottish Premiership status.
Rangers defender Bilel Mohsni punched and kicked Motherwell striker Lee Erwin as unsavoury scenes broke out after the Steelmen’s 3-0 win at Fir Park which retained their Scottish Premiership status.
BT Sport cameras showed 21-year-old Erwin approached Mohsni following the final whistle to shake hands but the Tunisian centre-back apparently told him to “f*** off”.
Erwin then shoved Mohsni, who reacted by physically attacking his opponent before officials intervened.
The brawl resulted in red cards being issued by referee Craig Thomson in the dressing rooms for Erwin, Mohsni and Motherwell’s unused substitute Fraser Kerr, who got involved with Mohsni as the melee between both sets of players ensued.
Motherwell fans also flocked onto the pitch and ran towards the Rangers supporters – most of which had already left – to gloat about the result.
Stewards and police officers eventually ushered them away while mounted police directed supporters back into the stands.
Mohsni lashed out at Erwin, leaving him with a wound on his face which was visible when he re-emerged with the rest of the Motherwell players for their lap of honour to say goodbye to the fans.
Mohsni continued to act violently as players and coaching staff tried to restrain him and as he walked down the tunnel where it is understood there were further exchanges with McCall also believed to have spoken to a Motherwell fan shouting at Mohsni.
Mohsni, though, has defended his actions and said Erwin made him fear for his own safety, calling the Motherwell player ‘a coward’.
“What do you call someone who attacks you from behind? A coward. I was worried about my security so I did the only thing I could,” Mohsni said.
“He says I swore at him. I never swore. My mum used to say to me that when you swear at someone it is like you want to fight with them. She educated me properly.”
Police Scotland will also investigate the fight by reviewing footage and liaising with both clubs in the coming days, assistant chief constable Bernard Higgins has confirmed.
Rangers have confirmed they will fully co-operate with the investigation.
“Bilel Mohsni’s behaviour was completely unacceptable and had his contract not now expired, the club would have started disciplinary proceedings,” Rangers said in a statement.
“The club will also assist with any investigation into the behaviour of Motherwell supporters and we would like to thank the Rangers fans who were excellent in showing admirable restraint despite severe provocation.”
Rangers manager Stuart McCall said he missed the incident but acknowledged such behaviour was “unacceptable” and “disgraceful”.
McCall also suggested that if Mohsni – whose contract expires next month – had acted in such an aggressive manner that he would not be at the club next term although his own future is also in doubt.
Disgraceful scenes at Fir Park. Bilel Mohsni could be in big trouble in flare up with Lee Erwin. #shameful
Both clubs are likely to be heavily censured by the SFA with the SPFL also likely to take further action against Motherwell after Rangers captain Lee McCulloch was struck on the face with a flag by a supporter and a flare was thrown onto the pitch after the first goal was scored.
Marvin Johnson broke the deadlock on 51 minutes as his shot took a wicked deflection off Marius Zaliukas and found the net after a howler from Gers goalkeeper Cammy Bell.
Lionel Ainsworth doubled the lead with another deflected strike 20 minutes from time and substitute John Sutton stroked home from the penalty spot in stoppage time as the Steelmen guaranteed their survival in style.
Motherwell extended their 30-year stay in the top-flight and consigned Rangers to a second season in the Championship with a second-leg victory in the Scottish Premiership play-off final.
Motherwell retain top-flight status they have held since 1984-85
Rangers stay in the Championship and have not played in Premiership since 2012
Marvin Johnson, Lionel Ainsworth and John Sutton seal 3-0 second leg win for ‘Well
Stuart McCall suffers disappointing defeat on first return to Fir Park
Ugly scenes at full-time as Rangers’ Mohsni clashes with Motherwell’s Erwin
Motherwell extended their 30-year stay in the top-flight and consigned Rangers to a second season in the Championship with an assured second-leg victory in the Scottish Premiership play-off final.
Leading 3-1 from the first leg at Ibrox, deflected goals from lively wingers Marvin Johnson and Lionel Ainsworth and a late penalty from substitute John Sutton cemented a comfortable aggregate triumph for the Steelmen.
Their experience, discipline and – most importantly – quality prevailed on a blustery afternoon as Ian Baraclough’s men preserved their Premiership status after finishing second-bottom in the table to avoid going down with St Mirren.
Johnson’s speculative effort flicked off Marius Zaliukas and spun over the grasp of Cammy Bell whose attempted punch went badly wrong six minutes after the break for a goal of bizarre proportions.
Ainsworth doubled their advantage with 20 minutes remaining as his low effort squirmed off Zaliukas and past a despairing Bell as the Steelmen earned only their second win over Rangers in the past 40 meetings and stretched their unbeaten home record to eight games.
Their failure to complete the job at the first time of asking leaves the future of Stuart McCall, who made his first return to north Lanarkshire since resigning as Motherwell boss in December after five years in charge, rather uncertain with talks set to take place in the coming weeks.
His successor Baraclough named an unchanged line-up with Stephen Pearson and Stevie Hammell both passed fit following injury concerns.
McCall made three alterations from Thursday night as captain Lee McCulloch came into a back three against the team he began his career with to replace the suspended first-leg scorer Darren McGregor while Kris Boyd was recalled in attack and Shane Ferguson made his first start since joining on loan from Newcastle in January as Dean Shiels and Nicky Clark dropped to the bench.
Rangers were on the front foot in the opening exchanges as Kris Boyd headed Shane Ferguson’s cross straight at George Long and then slashed a half volley off target following a misplaced header by Louis Laing.
The moderate pressure forced Motherwell to defend desperately at times but Rangers lacked the decisive instinct in the final third to capitalise on the hosts’ early nerves.
It was a relatively calm opening considering the occasion with Gers doing much of the pressing and bossing possession as Ferguson and Richard Foster progressed forward from their wing-back positions to supplement the attack.
But tempers frayed midway through the first half when Marius Zaliukas appeared to thrust his head towards Stephen Pearson after a penalty-box melee which went unseen by the officials.
In a separate incident on the sidelines, Lee McCulloch was struck in the face with the end of a flag by a Motherwell supporter in the East Stand when trying to retrieve the ball for a throw-in that was dealt with by stewards.
Haris Vuckic was then shown a yellow card for what referee Craig Thomson thought was a dive when the on-loan Newcastle midfielder went over the outstretched leg of Stephen McManus just outside the box.
The scrappy and tetchy nature suited Motherwell but, despite the best efforts of Lee Erwin and Scott McDonald to make an impact, the Steelmen struggled to provide a threat and trouble the Gers defence with goalkeeper Cammy Bell largely a spectator.
The closest they came was through the counter-attacking pace which was effective in the first leg with Lionel Ainsworth again the catalyst, the winger delivering a dangerous low cross for McDonald which was turned behind by Foster.
Indeed, the hosts ended the first period strongly amid mixed weather conditions as Erwin – with five goals in his previous eight starts – flashed a fierce effort wide of the post as the Gers failed to clear their lines from a corner.
Marvin Johnson was also inches away from his first Motherwell goal since joining on loan in January from Kidderminster Harriers when whistling a shot inches wide before his free-kick was glanced wide by the head of McManus.
But the Gers, with midfielder Nicky Law the driving force against his former club, should have gone ahead immediately before the break when Ferguson’s corner was inadvertently flicked on by ‘Well skipper Keith Lasley and Zaliukas sidefooted over from close range.
The tension only increased after the interval amid a frantic tempo at both ends as the challenges continued to fly in at a varying rate of knots.
However, the picture became clearer as Motherwell made the breakthrough to increase their healthy lead on aggregate and send their supporters into raptures.
The goal came in extremely fortuitous circumstances with Johnson’s shot taking a wicked deflection off Zaliukas before looping over Bell, who only helped the ball into the net as he backpedalled.
It left Rangers requiring a minimum of three goals to overturn the tie but the visitors did not give up hope as McCall made quick-fire changes with teenage midfielder Tom Walsh and striker Nicky Clark replacing Ferguson and Boyd.
Vuckic curled an effort straight at Long and his drilled cross was almost diverted into his own net by Josh Law.
But another cruel deflection undid the Gers to add further gloss to Motherwell’s advantage as Johnson surged forward before finding Ainsworth, whose low shot took a nick off Zaliukas which wrongfooted a disconsolate Bell.
It prompted vocal chants of ‘we are staying up’ from the exultant home faithful and, in contrast, a mass exodus from the 1,500 travelling Rangers supporters.
The damage might have worsened for the Gers had Bell not reacted superbly to deny Motherwell’s top scorer John Sutton, who came off the bench to replace Ainsworth.
And with the last kick of the game, Sutton converted from the penalty spot after the striker was bundled to the ground by Lee Wallace.
Within seconds of the final whistle, ugly scenes broke out with an angry and violent altercation taking place between Rangers defender Bilel Mohsni and Motherwell’s Lee Erwin during which punches and kicks appeared to be thrown.
Motherwell fans also invaded the pitch to celebrate with some taunting the Gers supporters before police and stewards intervened.
But the sense of relief and joy around Fir Park was palpable as the Steelmen retained their place in Scotland’s top division while the Glasgow side contemplate and rebuild for another mammoth campaign in the second tier.
Substitutes: Grant (on for Pearson 74′), Sutton (on for Ainsworth 76′), Ramsden (on for Johnson 84′)
Booked: McDonald (51′)
Goals: Johnson (52′), Ainsworth (70′), Sutton (90+3′ pen)
Substitutes: Walsh (on for Ferguson 55′), Clark (on for Boyd 59′), Mohsni (on for Zaliukas 72′).