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.
Like Celtic, the Motherwell-based whistler is on European duty in midweek having been assigned to referee the Europa League third qualifying round second leg between Hadjuk Split and FC Olexandryia.
He has awarded one penalty in each of his four games so far this season – three of which were in the Betfred Cup, including Rangers’ 3-0 win over Stranraer at Ibrox.
Beaton – who is still a part-time communications officer at the University of Strathclyde – was the referee for Celtic’s 1-1 draw with Leicester in the International Champions Cup at Parkhead a fortnight ago.
Aside from the League Cup tie, he encountered Hearts on four other occasions last season – twice in the Premiership against Partick Thistle and Kilmarnock at Tynecastle, and twice in the Scottish Cup against Aberdeen and Hibernian.
A Category One official since 2009, Beaton has established himself as a regular in the Premiership since his first game in 2012 and is one of seven Scottish referees on Fifa’s international list.
He has officiated the 2015 Ramsdens Cup Final, two League Cup semi-finals, two Scottish Cup semis including one last season, and been an additional assistant referee for two Scottish Cup Finals.
Nick Walsh will take charge of the Premiership opener between Partick Thistle and Inverness Caley Thistle at Firhill on Saturday (KO 15:00 BST).
The 30-year-old from Stirling, who was promoted to Category One over the summer, is only in his fourth season as a senior official.
He will be assisted by Andrew McWilliam and Graham McNellie, while Mat Northcroft will be the fourth official.
Walsh has dished out 13 yellow cards and awarded two penalties in four League Cup games so far – Queen of the South’s 2-0 victory over Airdrieonians, Motherwell’s 3-1 victory at Annan, and Peterhead’s surprise 2-1 win against Dundee.
He was also called up as a late replacement for Willie Collum for Ayr United’s opening 2-1 success over Hamilton Accies.
Kevin Clancy will be the man in the middle for the Championship’s standout opening match between Falkirk and Hibernian on Saturday (KO 15:00 BST).
The 32-year-old has been assigned to the opening weekend game between two expected promotion hopefuls at the Falkirk Stadium as Neil Lennon prepares to take charge of his first league game as Hibs manager.
Clancy – who will be assisted by Alastair Mather and Daniel McFarlane – has received more responsibility in the last 18 months having overseen a number of high-profile games such as Edinburgh and Dundee derbies, and last season’s Scottish League Cup Final.
The Renfrewshire-based whistler has handled a Champions League qualifier, Europa League game and three League Cup matches so far this season.
Glasgow-born Clancy – who has been a Category One official since 2009 – took charge of Hibs’ 1-1 draw with Falkirk at Easter Road last December, among 10 Championship games in 2015-16.
He has also been appointed to referee the televised League Cup second round tie between Premiership sides Celtic and Motherwell at Parkhead on Wednesday night.
With one of the most unpredictable seasons in years in store, guessing the final outcome across England, Scotland and Spain has proved difficult.
AFTER the briefest of breaks following the unexpected climax at Euro 2016, football makes a welcome comeback as the new domestic campaign begins in earnest.
2016-17 promises to be more dramatic, exciting and entertaining than seasons gone by with new managers, players and teams settling into their fresh surroundings and hoping to make an impact.
From Jose Mourinho’s arrival at Old Trafford to Burton Albion’s Championship debut, there are many intriguing sub-plots which could present more shocks and surprises – such as Leicester City’s stunning Premier League title triumph as relegation favourites last term.
Such is the uncertainty of how clubs will fare amid the hive of summer activity, unrivalled spending and the fall-out from last season’s outcomes, predicting the precise outcomes in the promotion, play-off and relegation pictures in all leagues is an incredibly tough task.
Here’s my rough guess on what the final standings might look like across the main divisions in England, Scotland and Spain when May eventually comes around…
The experienced Ayrshire official will take charge of the televised Group C game at Tannadice.
JOHN McKendrick has been confirmed as the referee for Sunday’s televised Scottish League Cup encounter between Dundee United and Dunfermline Athletic.
The 47-year-old will be in charge when the two Championship sides meet at Tannadice in Group C on July 31 (KO 15:00 BST, live on BT Sport).
He will be assisted by Stephen Mitchell and John McCrossan, with Stephen Finnie the fourth official.
It’s McKendrick’s third game in the competition of the season after overseeing Morton’s 1-0 win against Clyde on July 19 and Raith Rovers’ penalty shoot-out success over holders Ross County four days later.
He has brandished six yellow cards and awarded one spotkick so far but is yet to send a player off – and hasn’t issued a red card since Rangers’ 4-0 win at Stenhousemuir in April 2014.
Taking up the whistle in 1994, the father-of-three from Ayrshire has been a Category One referee since 2005 – five years after being admitted to the Scottish FA.
McKendrick attracted criticism last season, awarding Rangers a controversial free-kick which led to the decisive goal in their 3-1 win over Falkirk last October.
He was branded ‘a sh**bag’ by Bairns boss Peter Houston – who was subsequently reported to the SFA by McKendrick – and first-team coach Alan Maybury accepted a one-match ban for ‘abusive and insulting language’ after the final whistle at Ibrox.
The Fifa referee from Lanarkshire will oversee the Betfred Cup tie on his first Ibrox trip since August 2014.
JOHN Beaton will be the referee for Rangers’ fourth Scottish League Cup first-round group game against Stranraer on Monday night.
The 34-year-old from Lanarkshire takes charge of the televised tie as Mark Warburton’s men seek to maintain their 100% record in the revamped competition against the League One outfit at Ibrox (KO 19:45 BST, live on BT Sport).
He will be ably assisted for the Group F encounter by Alasdair Ross and Daniel McFarlaine, with Gavin Ross in control of fourth official duties.
Beaton has overseen two League Cup matches so far – Kilmarnock’s 2-1 win over Clyde and St Mirren’s 1-0 victory against Ayr. He has brandished five yellow cards and awarded a penalty in each but is yet to send a player off.
The Motherwell whistler – who first became a referee in 1997 – has officiated the 2015 Ramsdens Cup Final, two League Cup semi-finals, two Scottish Cup semis including one last season, and been an additional assistant referee for two Scottish Cup Finals.
A Category One official since 2009, he has established himself as a regular in the Scottish Premiership since his first game in 2012 and is one of seven Scottish referees on Fifa’s international list.
As the revamped Scottish League Cup kick starts the new football season north of the border, see how the 40 teams in action fared in their opening first round games.
THE Scottish football season has an earlier start than usual as the new League Cup format is rolled out across the country.
Complete with a group phase, penalty shootouts after draws and a November final at Hampden, it hopes to bring more excitement to fans and a competition which has been won by six different teams in the last six years.
Celtic, Aberdeen, Hearts and Hibernian – with European exploits currently on their minds – will join in the second round.
But after the briefest of pre-seasons, it was back to business for 40 other clubs (in eight groups, each consisting of five teams) as they took to the field over the weekend hoping to get points on the board early on.
Here’s how they got on in the first round of matches…
FRIDAY, JULY 15:
Arbroath (Hamilton 90+2′) 1-1 Dundee United (Anier 85′) *
* Dundee United won 5-3 on penalties Referee: Don Robertson Attendance: 3,124
Dundee United began life under new boss Ray Mackinnon with a penalty shootout success over League Two Arbroath in the first round of the revamped Scottish League Cup.
Henri Anier looked to have won the tie for the Championship newcomers at Gayfield Park when latching onto fellow substitute Cammy Smith’s deflected shot to fire home late on.
But Colin Hamilton, despite appearing to use his arm, levelled from close range in injury time for Dick Campbell’s team against their Angus derby rivals.
The new group phase of the competition sees drawn matches go to penalties, with a bonus point on offer for the victors.
Charlie Telfer, Coll Donaldson and Paul Dixon converted for United, likewise Steven Doris and Mark Whalley for Arbroath.
But United’s debutant keeper Cammy Bell tipped Liam Callaghan’s effort onto the post and Scott Fraser won it for the Tangerines after successful spotkicks from United’s Harry Souttar and Arbroath’s Hamilton.
McKinnon’s men now have two points in Group C, with Arbroath having to settle for one.
Finnie will work alongside assistants Stuart Hodge and David Roome, with Gavin Ross on fourth official duties at Palmerston Park.
Both Rangers and Hibernian progressed to the Scottish Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday night by beating Premiership opponents and are separated by eight points in the table, with second-placed Hibs having a game in hand.
Queen of the South sit fourth, two points above fifth, while Alloa are four points adrift of safety at the bottom.