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.


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.


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.


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.


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…


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


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.


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.


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


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…


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.


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…

Opinion: Andrew Dallas can be Scotland’s best referee

Why Andrew Dallas has the potential, in time, to be Scottish football’s leading referee – just like his father more than a decade ago.

Referee Andrew Dallas
Target: Dallas has been lambasted by fans, pundits and managers for his decision-making for many years (Picture from BBC Scotland)

As far as the limelight in Scottish football is concerned, referee Andrew Dallas isn’t normally too far away from the headlines – for one reason or another.

He has been the subject of ridicule and constant criticism since taking up the whistle in 2012/13, particularly when stepping up to the unforgiving environment of the Scottish Premiership at the start of the 2014/15 season.

It would be fair to say it has sometimes been warranted but too often it has gone too far, although not quite to the level experienced by his colleague Willie Collum, who received death threats after awarding a controversial penalty in an Old Firm match in 2010.

Dallas has often been too brash and almost tried too hard to get himself noticed but has come a long way since being branded ‘devious and manipulative’ by Kenny Shiels in 2013 and ‘not ready’ to officiate in the top flight by John Hughes in 2015.

Mistakes are part and parcel of the game and a referee’s development. Like any official, he has had his fair share.

Referee Andrew Dallas
Top flight: Dallas has handled more than 50 Premiership games since his promotion in 2014 (Picture from Sky Sports)

Dallas wrongly booked Hearts midfielder Malaury Martin, thinking he had tripped Motherwell’s Louis Moult, when in fact the striker had fallen over his own team-mate Lionel Ainsworth in a Premiership clash at Tynecastle in February 2017. In fairness, he later rang then Hearts boss Ian Cathro to apologise for the error.

Back in August, Partick Thistle boss Alan Archibald was left in doubt that Dallas should have awarded a last-minute penalty for his side, who were trailing 1-0 to Celtic in the Glasgow derby at Firhill when Nir Bitton appeared to impede Miles Storey in the box.

More recently, he gave St Johnstone midfielder David Wotherspoon his marching orders for a second bookable offence in their 1-0 defeat at Hearts – a decision which was branded ‘ridiculous’ by Saints boss Tommy Wright, who appears to have his own vendetta against Dallas.

“Same old, same old with that same referee,” Wright told BBC Scotland after the game. “I have been [disappointed] most of the times I’ve had him. I have probably spoken to [SFA Head of Referee Operations] John Fleming more about Andrew Dallas than any referee. Nothing seems to change.”

He has been under-fire and naturally took time to adapt to the rigours of the rough and tumble of Premiership football but has come on leaps and downs, in the last 12 months alone.

Earlier this month, Dallas was slammed on social media for disallowing an early goal for Motherwell in their Scottish Cup quarter-final win over Hearts but, by the letter of the law, which the referees know inside out, he was spot on as Hearts goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin had the ball within his grasp – even if it was just with one hand.

He was also right to award Hearts a penalty after Cedric Kipre wiped out Steven Naismith and ignore appeals for a second spotkick for Craig Levein’s side late on for handball after the ball struck Andy Rose, but it wasn’t intentional. Getting the big calls right is the main thing that should be expected of a referee and he did that in the important tie at Fir Park.

His appointment to the second major domestic showpiece of the season – the Challenge Cup final between Dumbarton and Inverness Caley Thistle – was fully merited and will no doubt be the first final of many for the 35-year-old during his career.

Although it’s the least glamorous trophy of them all, it was still a big occasion for the two Championship clubs that he knew well, at a ground he has become accustomed to refereeing at in St Johnstone’s McDiarmid Park.

Proud moment: Dallas lined up alongside assistants David Roome and Daniel McFarlane ahead of his first major final (Picture from BBC ALBA)

He put in a solid display overall and stayed under the radar – issuing five yellow cards and correctly awarding Inverness a late penalty for handball by Dumbarton left-back Chris McLaughlin, which Iain Vigurs had saved by Sons stopper Scott Gallacher before Carl Tremarco spared his team-mate’s blushes with a last-gasp winner.

Being awarded the final of the competition which is primarily for Championship, League One and League Two clubs in Scotland acted as a springboard in the successful careers of fellow officials Craig Thomson and Calum Murray, to name but two.

Despite some boos ringing around the ground as he stepped up to collect his medal after the game, Dallas could be happy of his performance and undoubtedly his father Hugh would have been proud of his display as he watched on from the stands.

Dallas has the shadow of his dad – the last Scotsman to go to a World Cup who spent 15 years officiating in Scotland before hanging up his whistle in 2005 – to contend with and there are always going to be comparisons drawn between them.

Roles: Dallas acted as a referee observer for the SPL and then UEFA after retiring as a referee (Picture from Zimbio.co.uk)

But he has spoken in the past about how his old man has been “invaluable” to him and he was the one who suggested that he took up the whistle in the first place. Claims that he has progressed as far as he has to date because of his father’s stature are also unfair, because he has reached the highest level on merit through his own hard work and determination.

Dallas has already demonstrated his capabilities and didn’t get fast-tracked on to the Fifa list in January 2015 for no reason.

2017/18 really has been a breakthrough campaign for the promising official, who has handled matches in the Europa League, a 2018 World Cup qualifier, a Champions League qualifier and numerous European youth games.

Closer to home, he’s been trusted with some key top-flight matches – including an Edinburgh derby debut in October, Rangers’ 3-0 win over Aberdeen at Ibrox in November and Hibernian’s 2-0 victory over the Dons in another significant contest in the battle to finish the best of the rest behind Celtic.

It is evident that the Scottish Football Association are fully behind Dallas, who is not afraid to give big decisions and generally stays calm under intense pressure – even on the big stage.

With Collum and Thomson out in front as Scotland’s leading officials, Dallas has some way to go to join the elite but the signs are there that he can at least be third in line for high-profile games on the domestic front and even go on to follow the footsteps of the pair – and his father before them – on the European and international scene.

He has already reaped the benefits of working closely with Collum, who he has regularly trained with, and being coached by fellow Fifa whistler Steven McLean.

“They’ve been fantastic in offering advice and encouragement and they’re always available for a chat about decisions and incidents from matches,” Dallas once said in an interview.

Referee Andrew Dallas in action
On the way up: Dallas has rapidly risen through the ranks but still has work to do to reach the levels his father Hugh did during his distinguished career (Picture from Sky Sports)

He got a bird’s eye view of Collum’s excellent display in Celtic’s 3-2 win over Rangers at Ibrox as the fourth official – a selective appointment made with careful consideration.

Selecting him to carry out electronic board duties undoubtedly had the near future in mind and suggests an Old Firm derby debut in the middle isn’t too far away, particularly as he’s the last of the seven Fifa referees to get a first taste of one of world football’s fiercest rivalries.

It could happen as early as next month in the Scottish Cup semi-final showdown at Hampden Park but it’s more likely to be a more experienced official in charge given the magnitude of the occasion.

Last May, former top-flight referee Charlie Richmond expressed his belief that Dallas is under more pressure to perform than some of his colleagues because of his father and still had plenty to prove.

“If he is to avoid having the mud slung at him, he has to cut out the big mistakes because they are becoming too regular,” he wrote in his Daily Record column.

This season has been one of real progress for Dallas, who has learned a lot and proven he’s not just a rookie and gaffe-prone referee but can handle matches at a high level.

He still has hurdles to climb over but, with age on his side and advice readily on hand in the form of his old man, he has the potential to be the cream of the crop – if fans and pundits alike can cut him some slack and let him develop.

POLL: Have your say about Andrew Dallas by casting your vote below…

Deniz Aytekin to referee England v Italy with VAR

The experienced German official will be at the helm for Tuesday’s friendly at Wembley Stadium, in which the Video Assistant Referee will be in operation.

Deniz Aytekin referee
Man in the middle: Aytekin (centre) will be in charge of his first match at Wembley Stadium (Picture from BT Sport)

German referee Deniz Aytekin will take charge of England’s friendly with Italy at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday night, in which the video assistant referee (VAR) will be in operation.

Aytekin will lead a team of officials from Germany as he will be assisted by Eduard Beitinger and Rafael Foltyn, with Marco Fritz acting as fourth official.

Daniel Siebert will be monitoring screens from Stockley Park as the VAR, aided by Benjamin Brand.

The 20:00 BST kick-off will be shown live on ITV.


VAR screen
Mixed reaction: VAR has divided opinion among the football world since being trialled in selected cup games in England this season (Picture from BBC Sport)

The clash between two European giants at the national stadium will see another outing for the new technology which has certainly stirred debate among fans, pundits and the media alike in its first few months in English football.

Tuesday’s friendly will be another trial of the system, which will be used for the third time in an England fixture.

It had a quiet night in the goalless draw with Germany at Wembley back in November, but it was a major talking point in the 3-2 defeat against France last June.

Trailing 2-1 at half-time, Harry Kane drew England level three minutes into the second half in the friendly in Paris after French defender Raphael Varane was sent off for a collision with Dele Alli – a decision which required the intervention of the video assistant referee Marco Guido.

He confirmed Italian referee Davide Massa’s original decision to award the spot-kick, resulting in the dismissal of Real Madrid’s Varane – much to the disgust of the France players and the home crowd.

Aytekin will be used to operating with the system as the Bundesliga has trialled using VAR this season. Although it has experienced many teething problems and hasn’t been regarded as an overwhelming success, clubs have voted to retain its use in Germany’s top-flight next season.

Fifa confirmed last week that the system, which is only supposed to intervene when the on-field referee has made a “clear and obvious error”, will be employed at the World Cup in Russia this summer.


The experienced official – who handled last season’s German Cup final as Borussia Dortmund beat Eintracht Frankfurt 2-1 in Berlin – has had a largely quiet campaign so far, taking charge of only 22 games in all competitions to date.

Aytekin has brandished 96 yellow cards, at an average of four per game, and sent off seven players while he has awarded 10 penalties – including one in four successive matches in the Bundesliga between December and February.

Deniz Aytekin 2017/18 stats
Statistics: Deniz Aytekin’s 2017/18 record so far in numbers (Picture from transfermarkt.co.uk)

His busiest game by far was back in mid-October when he sent off two players and pointed to the penalty spot twice as Borussia Dortmund’s unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season came to an end in a 3-2 defeat at home to rivals RB Leipzig.

Aytekin also handled three games during the group stage of the UEFA Champions League but is yet to feature in the knockout stages, which means he could be in line to officiate a quarter-final tie when the competition resumes next month.


Some fans of English clubs who regularly feature in Europe may recognise Aytekin, who has took charge of a number of Champions League and Europa League games involving Premier League teams.

He was in the middle for Manchester United’s 3-1 win over Club Brugge in the first leg of their Champions League play-off in August 2015 under previous boss Louis van Gaal.

Aytekin sent off defender Brandon Mechele for two bookable offences for the Belgian visitors in the 80th minute and allowed enough added time for Marouane Fellaini to score a tie-settling third goal for the Reds in the 94th minute – much to the dismay of Club Brugge boss Michel Preud’homme.

He also dismissed United defender Eric Bailly in the second leg of their Europa League Round of 32 tie against Saint-Etienne for a second yellow card in the 63rd minute of their 1-0 win at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, which wrapped up a convincing 4-0 success on aggregate.

Deniz Aytekin referee
Staying at home: Aytekin won’t be going to the World Cup this summer as Felix Brych will be Germany’s representative again (Picture from Sky Sports)

While, three years ago, Aytekin was in the middle for Arsenal’s disastrous 3-1 home defeat by Monaco in the Champions League last-16 first leg. The Gunners won 2-0 in France in the second leg but crashed out of the competition at the first hurdle in the knockout stages once again.

More recently, he will be remembered as the referee who made several controversial and game-changing decisions as Barcelona overturned a 4-0 deficit to beat Paris St-Germain 6-1 in a dramatic Champions League last-16 second-leg tie last season.

Despite complaints from PSG and calls for him to be suspended, Aytekin avoided punishment from Uefa.


Aytekin is of Turkish descent but was born in Nuremberg, West Germany, and now lives in Oberasbach, Bavaria.

Outside of refereeing, the 39-year-old is also a successful internet entrepreneur and has 75 employees under his charge.

In Germany, he is regarded as a stern disciplinarian and a strict official who is not afraid to issue cards.

Aytekin achieved notoriety back in 2011 for abandoning a Bundesliga match between St Pauli and Schalke 04 in the 89th minute because a supporter threw a plastic cup of beer, coins and lighters in the direction of his assistant Thorsten Schiffner.

The decision resulted in St Pauli playing their next home match against Werder Bremen behind closed doors.

Deniz Aytekin referee
Established: Aytekin first started officiating in the Bundesliga in the 2008/09 season (Picture from BT Sport)

Aytekin is now in his 10th season as a Bundesliga referee, having handled his first match back in August 2008.

He joined the Fifa list of international officials in 2011 and became a member of Uefa’s elite referees panel three years later.

Such is the fact he is held in high regard both in Europe and across the world, Aytekin was invited by the Chinese Football Association to officiate three matches in the Chinese Super League at the back end of last season.


Aytekin will encounter England for the third time in Tuesday’s friendly at Wembley, with his previous two internationals involving the Three Lions both coming back in 2016.

He took charge of the 2-1 win over Turkey at the Etihad Stadium in May in the first warm-up game for Euro 2016, dishing out three yellow cards and awarding England a second-half penalty which was missed by Harry Kane.

Then, just five months later, Aytekin was in the middle again as Gareth Southgate’s side played out a goalless draw against Slovenia in Ljubljana in their second World Cup qualifier. He showed yellow cards to four players as England stuttered to a stalemate which was largely secured thanks to a string of fine saves from goalkeeper Joe Hart.

It will be the first time he will take charge of a match at Wembley and it will only be his second Italy game after overseeing the Azzuri’s 1-1 draw with Spain in a friendly two years ago.


Austrian official Harald Lechner will take charge of his first Scotland match as the Tartan Army face Hungary in a friendly in Budapest, looking for a positive result after Friday’s 1-0 defeat against Costa Rica at Hampden Park on Alex McLeish’s return as manager.

Meanwhile, Scottish referee John Beaton will be at the helm for Denmark’s friendly meeting with Chile in Aalborg.

And English referee Anthony Taylor will be back in the middle for a mouthwatering friendly between 2010 World Cup winners Spain and 2014 runners-up Argentina in Madrid.

Anthony Taylor referee
International action: Taylor was also in charge of Sweden’s friendly clash with Chile in Stockholm on Saturday (Picture from Sky Sports)


A youthful England will be looking to build on Friday’s 1-0 win over the Netherlands, when Manchester United forward Jesse Lingard scored the winner in the second half in Amsterdam.

The Three Lions face another stern test against the 2006 world champions – less than three months before their World Cup opener against Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18.

England met Italy in their first match of the tournament four years ago in Brazil and suffered a 2-1 defeat which sparked a disappointing group phase as they crashed out, collecting just a solitary point from three matches.

The two nations then met in a friendly in March 2015 as Andros Townsend’s spectacular second-half goal earned a 1-1 draw for the Three Lions in Turin.

POLL: Have your say on how England will do against Italy by voting below…

Gavin Ward to referee 2018 Checkatrade Trophy final

The experienced EFL whistler will be in the middle when Lincoln City take on Shrewsbury Town at Wembley Stadium on April 8.

Gavin Ward referee
In the spotlight: Ward took charge of Rotherham’s 1-0 win at Portsmouth in League One in front of the TV cameras back in September (Picture from Sky Sports)

The English Football League (EFL) has confirmed the match officials for the 2018 Checkatrade Trophy Final at Wembley Stadium.

Gavin Ward will be the referee for the showpiece between League Two side Lincoln City and high-flying League One outfit Shrewsbury Town on Sunday, April 8. The 15:00 BST kick-off will be screened live on Sky Sports.

Ward will be assisted by Duncan Street (West Yorkshire) and Wayne Grunnill (East Yorkshire), with Mark Heywood (Cheshire) on fourth official duties. Dean Treleaven (West Sussex) has been selected as the reserve assistant referee.

The appointments were confirmed by competition organisers EFL on Thursday afternoon.


Gavin Ward referee
Booking: Ward has been known for his card-happy nature in recent seasons (Picture from Sky Sports)

The Surrey-based whistler has taken charge of 38 games so far in 2017/18 and has been a regular in this competition, officiating seven matches including Yeovil Town’s 3-2 win over Fleetwood Town in the quarter-finals.

So far, he has brandished 103 yellow cards, sent off four players and awarded eight penalties across five different competitions.

Record: How Gavin Ward has performed in the 2017/18 season to date (Picture from transfermarkt.co.uk)

Ward last refereed a Lincoln clash back in August and didn’t dish out any cards as the Imps drew 1-1 against Morecambe in their first home match back in the Football League.

He was in the middle most recently for a Shrews match back in December, booking four players in Paul Hurst’s team’s final fixture of 2017 as they beat Southend 2-1 at Roots Hall in League One.

Ward has averaged around three yellow cards per game this term and, although he is generally considered a safe pair of hands, he has attracted criticism in the past for controversial decisions.


Last 10 EFL Trophy final referees
Previous experience: Veteran official Andy Woolmer (pictured, centre) oversaw Barnsley’s 3-2 win over Oxford United in the 2016 final

Traditionally, the final of this competition is often awarded as a final swansong for a seasoned Football League campaigner who is coming close to the end of their career as a reward for their dedication and years of service.

Last year’s showpiece, when Coventry City beat Oxford United 2-1 in front of a fantastic crowd of 74,434, was refereed by Staffordshire’s Chris Sarginson.

While the previous two were handled by Andy Woolmer, who turns 52 next month, and Mick Russell, who then retired at the end of 2014/15 at the age of 51.

Eddie Ilderton and Carl Boyeson were among the officials who were seen as more likely to be chosen this year to handle a game which rarely attracts controversy.

But it is Ward who will get his first day out at Wembley as the man in the middle as two of this season’s success stories in the Football League contest the 34th final of the competition which was controversially extended beyond League One and League Two clubs to include Premier League “B teams” last term.


In his 10th season in the Football League, Ward has been officiating at this level since the start of the 2007-08 season.

He produced a red card 19 minutes into his debut match in Barnet’s 2-1 home defeat by Hereford in League Two.

The official, who turns 40 next month, made the National List at a relatively young age and has certainly put the years in to build up experience in the Football League.

He was touted as having the potential for promotion to the Premier League’s Select Group band of officials a few years ago. However, a combination of poor form and other officials stepping up seemingly put pay to those hopes – at least for now.

Ward is among the referees who primarily officiate in Leagues One and Two – between which he has regularly alternated this season – and has often been chosen to take charge of live TV matches in the league and cup competitions.

He has also been the fourth official for a small number of Premier League games during his decade in the Football League.

Gavin Ward referee
Style: Ward has shown yellow and red cards slightly more regularly than most of his colleagues during his 10 years in the Football League (Picture from BBC Sport)


Shrewsbury, who have lost their previous three games at Wembley, progressed to the showpiece after beating Yeovil Town 1-0 at the Montgomery Waters Meadow Stadium in the semi-finals thanks to a second-half header from Carlton Morris as their memorable season provides another chapter for the club’s fans.

Meanwhile, Lincoln – who were promoted to League Two from the National League last term – will make a first trip to the national stadium in their 133-year history after seeing off Chelsea’s Under-21s. The Imps won 4-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in the semi-finals, with Lee Frecklington’s winning spot-kick sparking a pitch invasion at Sincil Bank.


Have your say by voting in the poll below…

Scottish Premiership: Kevin Clancy to referee Kilmarnock v Celtic

Kevin Clancy will take charge of Celtic’s trip to Rugby Park in Saturday’s televised lunchtime game, before Willie Collum oversees Rangers against Hibernian at Ibrox.

Kevin Clancy will take charge of Celtic’s lunchtime clash with Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on Saturday afternoon, the SPFL has confirmed.

The 34-year-old will be in the middle for his first Hoops game of 2018 as the champions and current Scottish Premiership leaders visit Ayrshire for the 12:30pm kick-off, which will be screened live on BT Sport.

Celtic are unbeaten in the 25 previous games that the Fifa whistler has officiated, winning 23 and drawing two – stretching back to his first in February 2013. The only other occasion he’s previously handled a game between the two sides was three years ago in a 2-0 away victory for the Hoops.

It will be the fifth time Clancy will encounter Brendan Rodgers’s side this season in what will be his 28th match of the campaign overall in all competitions. He has so far brandished 107 yellow cards, sent off five players and awarded three penalties.

The Glasgow-born official was also in charge of Celtic’s 4-1 win over Hearts on the opening weekend, October’s 4-2 League Cup semi-final win over Hibernian, the 5-1 thrashing of Motherwell in December and, most recently, their 2-0 success at Dundee on Boxing Day.

High-profile: Collum represented Scotland at Euro 2016 in France but won’t be going to the World Cup in Russia in the summer

Elsewhere, Willie Collum will oversee Rangers’ meeting with Hibernian at Ibrox, as second takes on fourth in the top flight.

It will be the sixth time already this season that Collum will oversee a match involving the Gers, but the first since their surprise 2-1 reverse at Kilmarnock on December 23.

He will also be at the helm for his 30th game of the campaign in all competitions and, not for the first time in his career, has come under fire in recent weeks amid some controversial decisions.

Hearts head coach Craig Levein felt Collum should have awarded his side “two clear penalties” in their 1-1 draw against Motherwell at Tynecastle last weekend.

Here are the full appointments:


Kilmarnock v Celtic (12:30pm, live on BT Sport)
Referee: Kevin Clancy
Assistant referees: Alastair Mather and Ralph Gordon
Fourth official: Alan Muir

Aberdeen v Hamilton Academical (3pm)
Referee: Euan Anderson
Assistant referees: David McGeachie and Kylie Cockburn
Fourth official: Grant Irvine

Dundee v Ross County (3pm)
Referee: John Beaton
Assistant referees: Douglas Ross and Graeme Leslie
Fourth official: Greg Aitken

Hearts v St Johnstone (3pm)
Referee: Andrew Dallas
Assistant referees: Graeme Stewart and John McCrossan
Fourth official: Craig Thomson

Motherwell v Partick Thistle (3pm)
Referee: Nick Walsh
Assistant referees: Jordon Stokoe and Drew Kirkland
Fourth official: Steven McLean

Rangers v Hibernian (3pm)
Referee: Willie Collum
Assistant referees: Frank Connor and David Roome
Fourth official: Kevin Graham

Referees revealed for FA Cup third round weekend

The match officials have been announced for the 32 Emirates FA Cup third-round ties this weekend.

Bobby Madley will take charge of the standout tie at Anfield on Friday night, as the match official appointments for the Emirates FA Cup third round have been revealed.

The West Yorkshire whistler has come under fire for a number of high-profile errors this season, with former Premier League official Mark Halsey even suggesting he looks “overweight”.

But he will be in the middle for his second Merseyside derby when Liverpool and Everton kick off one of the biggest weekends in the football calendar in front of the BBC cameras.

His first taste of this fierce rivalry was also Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp’s maiden experience, as his side thrashed the Toffees 4-0 in April 2016 – a thumping Premier League win helped by the 50th minute dismissal of Everton defender Ramiro Funes Mori for a challenge on Divock Origi, which saw the striker stretchered off with an ankle injury.

Elsewhere, on Friday night, Kevin Friend will oversee his first game involving Manchester United this season as the Reds welcome Championship side Derby County to Old Trafford in their first home game of 2018.

It’s the first time United will not be screened live on TV in the UK in the competition in 58 matches stretching back to the first game of their defence of the trophy they won in 2004 – a surprise goalless home draw against non-league Exeter City.

Meanwhile, Andre Marriner – who oversaw United’s 2-0 win at Everton on his 47th birthday on New Year’s Day – will make history when taking charge of the first competitive game in England in which video replays will be used in the first live Video Assistant Referee (VAR) test.

The West Midlands official will be in the middle for Brighton’s televised all-Premier League tie with rivals Crystal Palace on Monday night – as he was when the sides played out a goalless draw at the Amex Stadium at the end of November, when he issued just two yellow cards.

Neil Swarbrick is the official who will be the first-ever VAR in a competitive fixture in English football and he will be assisted by Peter Kirkup at the final tie of the weekend, which is also being screened live on BT Sport.

Swarbrick himself will take charge of Saturday’s all-Premier League clash between Newcastle United and Swansea City at St James’s Park.

Meanwhile, Saturday’s televised ties will see Select Group 2 official Simon Hooper tasked with taking charge of Leicester City’s trip to League One Fleetwood in the lunchtime encounter on the BBC, while Stuart Attwell will be in the middle for Chelsea’s encounter at Championship side Norwich City in the evening encounter on BT Sport at Carrow Road.

Sunday’s four matches begin with Mike Dean in charge of Leeds United’s midday kick-off at League Two Newport County, live on BBC One Wales. The Wirral whistler was in the spotlight after awarding a controversial penalty for West Bromwich Albion in their draw with Arsenal last weekend – much to the anger of Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.

Lancashire whistler Paul Tierney will be at the helm as David Moyes’s West Ham face a tough test at New Meadow in front of a national audience on BBC One against a Shrewsbury side flying high in League One under Paul Hurst.

Highly-rated Select Group 2 official David Coote – who has been earmarked for potential promotion to the Premier League in the future – is back at Wembley, where he’s officiated on numerous occasions in the past, on Sunday as Premier League giants Tottenham entertain League One outfit AFC Wimbledon.

Then, finally on Sunday afternoon at 16:00 GMT, Jon Moss will take charge of Arsenal’s trip to managerless Championship side Nottingham Forest, which will be shown live on BT Sport 2.

Among the other highlights, Graham Scott will take charge of Manchester City’s clash with fellow Premier League side Burnley at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

The corresponding top-flight fixture back in October saw City awarded a controversial penalty by Roger East when Burnley keeper Nick Pope was adjudged to have fouled Bernardo Silva, which led to Sergio Aguero’s opening goal in the 3-0 win for Pep Guardiola’s side.

Scott has established himself as a regular choice in the Premier League this season – officiating 12 games so far, including City’s 2-0 win at Leicester in November in which he booked their captain Vincent Kompany for an early foul on Jamie Vardy which some pundits thought could have been a red card as the striker looked to have a clear run on goal.

Meanwhile, Manchester’s Chris Kavanagh is tasked with keeping the peace as the referee when Championship rivals Middlesbrough and Sunderland lock horns in a Tyne-Wear derby at the Riverside Stadium in a 13:00 GMT kick-off on Saturday.

Here’s a full list of the match officials who will be overseeing the 32 ties from Friday to Monday…


Friday 5 January

Liverpool v Everton (KO 19:55 GMT, live on BBC One)
Referee: Bobby Madley
Assistants: Marc Perry and Adrian Holmes
Fourth official: Jon Moss

Manchester United v Derby County (KO 20:00 GMT)
Referee: Kevin Friend
Assistants: Mick McDonough and Neil Davies
Fourth official: David Coote

Saturday 6 January

Fleetwood Town v Leicester City (KO 12:45 GMT, live on BBC One)
Referee: Simon Hooper
Assistants: Peter Kirkup and Lee Betts
Fourth official: Michael Salisbury

Middlesbrough v Sunderland (KO 13:00 GMT)
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
Assistants: Akil Howson and Wayne Grunnill
Fourth official: Carl Boyeson

Aston Villa v Peterborough United (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Robert Jones
Assistants: Philip Dermott and Steven Meredith
Fourth official: Peter Gibbons

Birmingham City v Burton Albion (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Jeremy Simpson
Assistants: Adam Crysell and John Flynn
Fourth official: Antony Coggins

Blackburn Rovers v Hull City (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Oliver Langford
Assistants: Mark Jones and Duncan Street
Fourth official: Tom Nield

Bolton Wanderers v Huddersfield Town (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Roger East
Assistants: Andy Halliday and Jonathan Hunt
Fourth official: Martin Coy

Bournemouth v Wigan Athletic (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Andy Madley
Assistants: Harry Lennard and Matt Foley
Fourth official: Charles Brakespear

Brentford v Notts County (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Tim Robinson
Assistants: Michael George and Darren Blunden
Fourth official: Craig Hicks

Cardiff City v Mansfield Town (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Lee Probert
Assistants: Rob Merchant and Craig Taylor
Fourth official: Robert Lewis

Carlisle United v Sheffield Wednesday (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: David Webb
Assistants: Barry Cropp and Barry Gordon
Fourth official: David Underwood

Coventry City v Stoke City (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Assistants: Matthew Wilkes and Nick Greenhalgh
Fourth official: Paul Tierney

Doncaster Rovers v Rochdale (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Andy Woolmer
Assistants: David Avent and Paul Hodskinson
Fourth official: Matthew Donohue

Exeter City v West Bromwich Albion (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Lee Mason
Assistants: Derek Eaton and Mark Russell
Fourth official: Brett Huxtable

Fulham v Southampton (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Michael Oliver
Assistants: Dan Robathan and Nick Hopton
Fourth official: Gavin Ward

Ipswich Town v Sheffield United (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Mike Jones
Assistants: Robert Hyde and Ian Cooper
Fourth official: Graham Horwood

Manchester City v Burnley (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Graham Scott
Assistants: Simon Bennett and Shaun Hudson
Fourth official: Andy Haines

Millwall v Barnsley (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Darren Bond
Assistants: Mark Pottage and Anthony Da Costa
Fourth official: John Busby

Newcastle United v Luton Town (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Neil Swarbrick
Assistants: Andy Garratt and Billy Smallwood
Fourth official: Darren Handley

Queens Park Rangers v Milton Keynes Dons (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: James Linington
Assistants: Mark Dwyer and Lee Venamore
Fourth official: Nick Kinseley

Stevenage v Reading (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Ben Toner
Assistants: Nigel Lugg and Mark Griffiths
Fourth official: Alan Dale

Watford v Bristol City (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Craig Pawson
Assistants: Stuart Burt and James Mainwaring
Fourth official: Mark Heywood

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Swansea City (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Assistants: Ian Hussin and Geoffrey Russell
Fourth official: Graham Salisbury

Wycombe Wanderers v Preston North End (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Peter Bankes
Assistants: Tim Wood and Callum Walchester
Fourth official: Chris O’Donnell

Yeovil Town v Bradford City (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: John Brooks
Assistants: Samuel Ogles and Matthew Lee
Fourth official: Adam Bromley

Norwich City v Chelsea (KO 17:30 GMT, live on BT Sport 2)
Referee: Stuart Attwell
Assistants: Simon Beck and Constantine Hatzidakis
Fourth official: Dean Whitestone

Sunday 7 January

Newport County v Leeds United (KO 12:00 GMT, live on BBC One Wales)
Referee: Mike Dean
Assistants: Simon Long and Dan Cook
Fourth official: Kevin Johnson

Shrewsbury Town v West Ham United (KO 14:00 GMT, live on BBC One)
Referee: Paul Tierney
Assistants: Steve Child and Mark Scholes
Fourth official: Bobby Madley

Tottenham Hotspur v AFC Wimbledon (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: David Coote
Assistants: Adam Nunn and Daniel Leach
Fourth official: Andre Marriner

Nottingham Forest v Arsenal (KO 16:00 GMT, live on BT Sport 2)
Referee: Jon Moss
Assistants: Sian Massey-Ellis and Eddie Smart
Fourth official: Kevin Friend

Monday 8 January

Brighton & Hove Albion v Crystal Palace (KO 19:45 GMT, live on BT Sport 2)
Referee: Andre Marriner
Assistants: Scott Ledger and Richard West
Fourth official: Graham Scott
VAR and Assistant VAR: Neil Swarbrick and Peter Kirkup