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.
Scott Sinclair scores the winner as Celtic claim the New Year honours in Glasgow by coming from behind to beat Rangers at Ibrox and earn a 15th successive league win.
Old Firm derby on Hogmanay at packed Ibrox
Miller puts Rangers ahead early on
Dembele and Sinclair turn it around for Celtic
Hoops maintain unbeaten domestic record
Celtic claimed the New Year honours in Glasgow, coming from behind to beat Rangers and record a 15th successive league win in the first Old Firm derby at Ibrox in almost five years.
Veteran striker Kenny Miller rewarded Rangers’ early enterprise by firing them into the lead from close range against his former club.
With their first shot on target, Moussa Dembele drew the Hoops level with a spectacular finish for his fifth goal against Rangers this season.
Celtic upped the ante in the second half and showed their powers of recovery, as Scott Sinclair scored the winner with 20 minutes remaining.
As 2017 approaches, Brendan Rodgers’ men open up a 19-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership, with a game in hand to come against St Johnstone next month, heading into the winter break – the biggest ever advantage at this stage of a top-flight season.
Rangers can take plenty of positives, with Barrie McKay excellent as an attacking force, but Mark Warburton’s side, who are now only two points ahead of third-placed Aberdeen, face a battle to secure the runners-up spot after suffering a first home defeat in 34 games.
Lining up with a back three, the hosts hit the front by pressing Celtic in wide areas from the outset.
It paid dividends in the 12th minute when Josh Windass released James Tavernier to cross low for Miller – wearing the captain’s armband in the injured Lee Wallace‘s absence – who finished well inside the six yard box for his 10th Old Firm goal.
But in the aftermath, fellow forward Joe Garner had to be stretchered off and was replaced by Martyn Waghorn.
Rangers continued to look menacing and ask questions of the Celtic defence but, after Sinclair struck the post and Clint Hill put the rebound behind for a corner, the visitors responded.
Stuart Armstrong’s deep delivery picked out Dembele, who had escaped the attentions of Danny Wilson, and the Frenchman instantly brought the ball under control before unleashing a powerful left-foot volley into the roof of the net for goal number 19 this season.
Celtic came out stronger in the second period to take a firm grip of proceedings, with Wes Foderingham in the Rangers goal the much busier keeper.
Armstrong and James Forrest brought good saves from the ex-Swindon man before Dembele hit the frame of the goal with a mishit effort after good work from Calum McGregor – returning after a one-match ban.
Rangers continued to offer a threat as McKay’s long-range effort and a Wilson header tested Celtic stopper Craig Gordon – celebrating his 34th birthday.
But the visitors struck the decisive blow to complete the turnaround in front of their delighted supporters as substitute Patrick Roberts found Armstrong in space and his inviting cross was touched in by Sinclair for his ninth of the campaign.
Celtic could have gone further ahead in the closing stages as Armstrong, Sinclair and sub Nir Bitton produced more saves from Foderingham.
And Rangers might have snatched a late leveller through Miller, who hit the base of the post from a well-weighted centre by Andy Halliday.
However, as referee Steven McLean – excellent on his Old Firm derby debut – blew the final whistle, the hosts could only reflect on an encouraging display despite their best efforts.
Meanwhile, Celtic ensured they signed off for 2016 by maintaining their domestic bliss after proving once again why they are looking such an unstoppable force this season.
Substitutes: Waghorn (on for Garner 16′), Dodoo (on for Windass 65′) and Forrester (on for Holt 83′). Not used: Gilks (GK), Hodson, Crooks, O’Halloran. Booked: Hill, Tavernier, Windass Goals: Miller (12′)
Substitutes: Roberts (on for Forrest 68′) and Bitton (on for McGregor 86′). Not used: De Vries (GK), Toure, Gamboa, Mackay-Steven, Griffiths. Booked: Simunovic, Lustig, Brown Goals: Dembele (33′), Sinclair (70′)
Referee: Steven McLean – 9/10 Assistant referees: Douglas Ross and Frank Connor Fourth official: John Beaton
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.
Craig Thomson will handle his 13th Old Firm derby while Kevin Clancy will referee his first domestic cup semi-final in this weekend’s Betfred Cup last-four ties at Hampden Park.
CRAIG Thomson and Kevin Clancy have been confirmed as the referees for this weekend’s Scottish League Cup semi-finals at Hampden Park.
Thomson will be in the middle for the Old Firm derby between Rangers and Celtic on Sunday (KO 14:05 BST).
Meanwhile, Clancy has been selected to officiate Premiership side Aberdeen against Championship outfit Greenock Morton on Saturday (KO 12:15 BST).
Both ties will be televised live on BT Sport.
The perennial Old Firm whistler…
It may be an unlucky number for some but Thomson will be hoping it will bring him some fortune as he prepares for his 13th Old Firm derby – no other referee has handled more than five.
His first derby came back in 2006 and he has since built up a wealth of experience in handling Scottish football’s most explosive duel in cup finals, crucial league encounters and, more recently, semi-final battles.
It will be the third season in a row the Fifa whistler, who went to Euro 2012, will manage a cup semi-final between the sides at the national stadium – after Celtic’s 2-0 League Cup win in 2015 and Rangers’ Scottish Cup win on penalties earlier this year.
David McGeachie and Alan Mulvanny will assist Thomson, with Steven McLean taking the fourth official reins.
It was widely expected McLean or Bobby Madden might be entrusted with their first Old Firm derbies as Thomson and Willie Collum – who oversaw his third when Celtic thrashed Rangers 5-1 last month – are the only officials among the current crop to have previously refereed the fixture.
But, with a place in November’s Betfred Cup Final at stake, they have called on the vastly experienced Thomson to make the decisions for the latest meeting of Glasgow’s biggest rivals.
The former lawyer, from Renfrewshire, oversaw the League Cup final meeting between the sides in 2011 – awarding Rangers a penalty before reversing his decision and sending off Celtic’s Emilio Izaguirre in an eventual 2-1 win for the Ibrox side.
Earlier this season, he 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 win at Dundee.
He was also an additional assistant referee in the 2014 Scottish Cup Final at Celtic Park and Rangers’ Scottish Cup semi win over Celtic on penalties, as well as European games such as the 2015 Uefa Super Cup.
Clancy first took up the whistle in 2000 and was admitted to the Scottish FA five years later before overseeing his first SPL match in 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.
Among Clancy’s other high-profile appointments was the Championship play-off semi first leg between Hamilton Accies and Falkirk in 2014 and Queen’s Park’s League One play-off second leg win over Clyde last term.
At Hampden, he will be assisted by Alastair Mather and Gordon Crawford, while Euan Anderson will be on electronic board duties as fourth official.
One of his two red cards was shown to Philippe Senderos on his Gers debut for two bookable offences at Celtic Park, with the other in Napoli’s 2-1 victory at Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League group stages.
As was the case for the Old Firm, his assistants at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium will be Fifa-listed duo Frank Connor and Douglas Ross, with Steven Reid on fourth official duties.
He had a couple of tough decisions to make in St Mirren’s 2-1 win at Hibernian in the Irn Bru Cup fourth round last weekend – awarding a dubious free-kick for Saints’ equaliser before overruling an offside flag for David Clarkson’s late winner.
As the Religious Education teacher prepares for his sixth Premiership game of the campaign, he has awarded penalties in his previous two top-flight games – for Motherwell in their 4-2 derby win over Hamilton and, controversially, Aberdeen in their 4-0 victory at Kilmarnock.
Collum was slated by fans on social media after harshly penalising Jamie MacDonald for a perceived foul on James Maddison, which led to the Dons’ opening goal at Rugby Park.
The Lanarkshire official became more lenient last term, with his card count coming down as he enjoyed another busy campaign with 49 matches in total – including the prestigious Uefa Super Cup in Tbilisi.
Collum will make his first trip to Inverness since enduring a difficult night in February in the hosts’ 3-1 win over Aberdeen, who he upset in particular for awarding a controversial penalty against Ash Taylor.
It was one of several high-profile blunders which led to him being dropped from officiating Premiership fixtures for several weeks, but he responded positively at the Euros in France in the summer.
Fifth-placed Rangers, who trail leaders Celtic by seven points, could go joint second before their rivals play on Saturday but eighth-placed Inverness can move level on points with the Gers with a win.
You can see the rest of the SPFL match official appointments for the weekend here.
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.