Scottish Premiership: Willie Collum to referee Motherwell v Rangers

Willie Collum will take charge of Saturday’s lunchtime encounter at Fir Park, with Bobby Madden appointed to Celtic’s televised match against Hearts on Sunday.

willie-collum-referee-albion-rovers-v-celtic-22nd-jan-2017
Solid: Collum issued just one yellow card and was on top of proceedings during Celtic’s 3-0 Scottish Cup win at Albion Rovers last weekend (Picture from Sky Sports)

WILLIE Collum will be the referee for Rangers’ televised Scottish Premiership match at Motherwell on Saturday.

The Euro 2016 official, who turned 38 last week, will be in the middle as the Gers make the trip to Fir Park for the lunchtime game live on Sky Sports (KO 12:45 GMT).

He will be assisted by David McGeachie and Gordon Crawford, with Euan Anderson on fourth official duties.

Collum – who won’t have far to travel from his Lanarkshire residence – will oversee his 29th game of the season in all competitions.

He has so far brandished 90 yellow cards, sent off five players and awarded nine penalties.

The Religious Education teacher will have no excuse for taking his eye off the ball after visiting a Specsavers store this week, in recognition of the partnership the opticians share with the Scottish FA.

It will be a 13th top-flight match of the campaign for Collum, who has handled a League Cup Final, two Scottish Cup Finals and the 2015 Uefa Super Cup.

The Glasgow-born whistler will control his fourth Rangers game of the campaign – and first of 2017 – after sending off Philippe Senderos in their 5-1 Old Firm derby defeat at Celtic in September before 1-0 victories at Inverness in October and home to Dundee in November.

Meanwhile, Collum will be in the middle for a third Motherwell match of 2016-17 after their 4-2 derby win over Hamilton in September – in which he awarded the Steelmen a spotkick – and 1-1 draw at St Johnstone last month.

It will be the third time he takes charge of a fixture involving the two sides – after Rangers’ 2-1 win in a League Cup semi-final at Hampden in 2011 and a goalless draw at Ibrox in the league in 2012, both of which passed without major incident.

Mark Warburton’s second-placed Rangers will be looking to extend the gap over Aberdeen in third, which currently stands at two points, while Mark McGhee’s Motherwell could move into the top six with a first top-flight win over the Gers since December 2002.

The sides met as recently as last weekend as Kenny Miller scored twice for Rangers, who came from behind to beat the Steelmen in their Scottish Cup fourth round tie at Ibrox.


Madden gets another top-flight test

Bobby Madden in action
Well-known: Madden has established himself as a referee domestically in the Scottish top-flight and on the European stage in the Europa League (Picture from Sky Sports)

Bobby Madden will take charge of Celtic’s televised encounter with Hearts on Sunday.

The 38-year-old will be in the middle when the champions host the Jambos at Parkhead in front of the Sky cameras (KO 13:00 GMT).

His assistants will be Graham Chambers and Stephen Mitchell, while Greg Aitken will be on fourth official duties.

Madden was also in the middle for a 3-1 Celtic win over Hearts last season in his only other experience of a fixture between the sides.

He enjoyed a largely quiet display but booked six players and sent off Hearts defender Juwon Oshaniwa late on for a second yellow card.

It will only be the 18th game Madden will have officiated this season, after missing two months as he bravely battled thyroid cancer.

Overall, he has dished out 48 yellow cards, two red cards and pointed to the penalty spot 11 times in his 17 matches so far.

The East Kilbride whistler, who was an additional assistant referee at Euro 2016, will handle his third Celtic game of the campaign after their 4-1 win over 10-man Aberdeen in August and 2-1 success against Dundee in December – both also at Celtic Park.

His only Hearts match so far was their 3-0 victory over Motherwell at Tynecastle in November – in which only two players were cautioned.

Madden’s biggest career honour to date came in Celtic’s 2-0 win over 10-man Dundee United in the 2015 League Cup showpiece at Hampden Park.

Both sides were in action in midweek – with Hearts beating Raith Rovers 4-2 after extra time in a Scottish Cup replay, while Celtic edged past St Johnstone 1-0 in their game in hand in the league.

You can see the rest of the SPFL appointments for this weekend here.

Scottish Cup: Thomson and Collum to referee Rangers and Celtic

Craig Thomson will be in the middle for Rangers against Motherwell at Ibrox, while Willie Collum has been appointed to Celtic’s fourth-round tie at Albion Rovers.

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

The heavyweights will be out in force as the match official appointments for the fourth round of the Scottish Cup have been announced.

Craig Thomson will take charge of the first tie of the weekend as Rangers face another Premiership side in Motherwell at Ibrox on Saturday (KO 12:30 GMT).

And fellow elite official Willie Collum will be in the middle for Celtic’s trip to League One Albion Rovers on Sunday – also live on Sky Sports – with kick-off at 15:00 GMT.

The other TV game will see John Beaton oversee Hearts’ match at Championship outfit Raith Rovers in front of the BBC Scotland cameras earlier on Sunday (KO 13:05 GMT).


Thomson makes Ibrox return

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

It will be the fourth time Thomson will encounter Rangers this season but his first trip to Ibrox for a year since giving them two penalties in their 4-1 win over Livingston on the way to the Championship title.

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

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

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

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

He will be assisted by Alan Mulvanny and Andrew McWilliam, with Stephen Finnie on fourth official duties.

Earlier this season, Thomson was involved in a bitter spat with pundit Chris Sutton, who called him a ‘bottler’ after opting not to send off Rangers midfielder Harry Forrester for a second bookable offence in their 2-1 success at Dens Park.

He was also branded ‘the Scottish butcher’ by angry Besiktas players after a controversial performance in their pivotal 6-0 defeat at Dynamo Kiev during the Champions League group stages.


Collum reunited with Celtic

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Spotlight: Collum has largely stayed under the radar after being dropped for a period last term following a number of contentious decisions (Picture from Sky Sports)

Collum usually officiates Celtic on a monthly basis but it will only be the third occasion he will oversee the champions so far this term.

The 2015 Uefa Super Cup and Euro 2016 referee put in a fine display in their 5-1 thumping of Rangers at Parkhead in September.

But he was criticised by Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers for sending off Calum McGregor in their 1-1 draw at Hamilton on Christmas Eve.

It will be the first time the Religious Education teacher will be in the middle for an Albion Rovers game, which will be staged at Airdrie’s Excelsior Stadium to allow extra fans to watch – a stone’s throw from where he resides in North Lanarkshire.

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

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

He will be assisted by Michael Banks and John McCrossan, while Gavin Duncan will act as the fourth official.

To his credit, the notoriously card-happy Collum has rarely attracted controversy this term.

The only notable occasion came when he was slated by fans on social media after harshly penalising Jamie MacDonald for a perceived foul on James Maddison, which led to Aberdeen’s opening goal in their 4-0 win at Kilmarnock in October.

You can see the rest of the Scottish Cup match official appointments here.

Scottish Premiership: Willie Collum to referee Hamilton v Celtic

The Euro 2016 referee will take charge of the champions’ televised lunchtime kick-off at the Super Seal Stadium on Christmas Eve.

Willie Collum referee (Motherwell v Celtic - 9th April 2016)
High-profile: Collum is now well-respected on the domestic, European and international stages after some impressive and consistent displays (Picture from Sky Sports)

WILLIE Collum has been confirmed as the referee for Celtic’s televised Christmas Eve trip to Hamilton Academical.

The 37-year-old will take charge of Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off as the champions travel to the Super Seal Stadium to face Accies (KO 12:30 GMT, live on Sky Sports).

He will be assisted in Lanarkshire by Gavin Harris and Andy Milne, with Kevin Graham on fourth official duties.

Collum – Scotland’s Euro 2016 representative – will take charge of his 24th game of the season in all competitions, and his 11th in Scotland’s top-flight.

He has so far brandished 71 yellow cards, sent off four players and awarded eight penalties altogether.

The Glasgow-born whistler has largely stayed under the radar this season after being dropped for a period last term and in the spotlight following a number of controversial decisions.

However, Collum was slated by fans on social media after harshly penalising Kilmarnock goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald for a perceived foul on Aberdeen’s James Maddison, which led to the Dons’ opening goal in their 4-0 win at Rugby Park back in October.

Meanwhile, the Lanarkshire-based referee has given penalties in both Hamilton matches he has officiated in the league in 2016-17.

His sixth-minute spotkick award, which proved to be decisive in Accies’ narrow win, against Aberdeen in October left Dons boss Derek McInnes raging with the official.

But Collum also gave a penalty against Accies, which Louis Moult converted as part of his four-goal salvo, in Motherwell’s Lanarkshire derby success at Fir Park in September.

The Religious Education teacher was due to oversee Hamilton’s Betfred Cup tie at Ayr United in the first round in July but had to withdraw through illness and was replaced by Nick Walsh.

Collum normally encounters the Hoops on a monthly basis but has only handled one game involving the champions this season – albeit it was arguably their most memorable one, the 5-1 derby success over 10-man Rangers at Celtic Park in September.

The appointment seemingly rules him out of selection for the upcoming Old Firm derby at Ibrox on New Year’s Eve.

Elsewhere in the Premiership on Saturday, Don Robertson will take charge of Rangers’ final match before Christmas at home to Inverness Caley Thistle – with Kylie McMullan, Joseph Lawson and fourth official Alan Muir completing the team of officials.

Collum has previously overseen two memorable games involving Hamilton and Celtic in recent years.

He infamously sent off three players, allowed Hamilton’s goal despite it being offside and gave Celtic a stoppage-time penalty in an incident-packed 1-1 draw in 2011.

And, last season, Collum replaced Craig Thomson as the man in charge for Celtic’s thumping 8-1 triumph over Accies at Parkhead and issued no cards.

The sides only met a matter of 10 days ago with Leigh Griffiths’ free-kick giving Celtic a 1-0 success – the 10th of 12 successive league wins the leaders have enjoyed under Brendan Rodgers to give them a 14-point lead at the top of the table.

Martin Canning’s Hamilton, meanwhile, are winless in eight games and sit ninth in the table but are only a point above bottom-club Partick Thistle.

Scottish Premiership: Willie Collum to referee Inverness v Rangers

Willie Collum will be in the middle for Rangers’ televised Friday night trip to the Highlands as the Scottish Premiership resumes after the international break.

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Visits: Collum, who will oversee his third domestic TV match of the season, oversaw Inverness’ home games against Celtic and Aberdeen last term (Picture from Sky Sports)

WILLIE Collum will be the man in the middle for Rangers’ Scottish Premiership match with Inverness Caley Thistle on Friday night.

The Euro 2016 whistler will make the decisions as the Gers kick start the top-flight weekend in the Highlands in front of the BT Sport cameras (KO 19:45 BST).

It will be his first game involving the Glasgow side since their 5-1 hammering by Celtic in last month’s Old Firm derby.

Although Collum was widely regarded to have had a good game, Mark Warburton was frustrated by what he felt was a clear second yellow card for Celtic’s Mikael Lustig for a crunching challenge on Barrie McKay.

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.

It’s been a typically busy start to the campaign for the 37-year-old, who has handled 13 games in all competitions this season – brandishing 44 yellow cards and awarding four penalties.

Willie Collum referee (Motherwell v Celtic - 9th April 2016)
Keeping a low profile: Collum is no stranger to moments of controversy but has largely stayed out of the spotlight in recent months (Picture from Sky Sports)

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.

He oversaw the biggest game in Inverness’ history in their 2015 Scottish Cup Final victory over Falkirk, despite sending off Caley Thistle defender Carl Tremarco for hauling down Blair Alston on 75 minutes.

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.

Willie Collum blows for full-time (Uefa Super Cup - 11th August 2015)
In the middle: Collum is no stranger to high-profile games with a wealth of domestic and international experience (Picture from BT Sport)

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.

Father-of-three Collum, who has been a Fifa referee since 2006, went as Scotland’s only representative for his first major international tournament as a referee and left filled with pride in his team’s performances.

He officiated Turkey’s 2-0 win over the Czech Republic and France’s 2-0 victory against Albania – brandishing eight yellow cards, no reds and awarding no penalties before being sent home after the group stages.

Collum will be hoping to avoid more negative headlines – the same fate suffered by Don Robertson when the other half of the Old Firm, Celtic, visited Inverness last month.

Caley Thistle skipper Richie Foran criticised Robertson’s failure to send off Erik Sviatchenko for what he thought was a last-man foul on Ross Draper in their 2-2 draw against the champions.

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.

Scottish Premiership: Fans tear into Willie Collum after Aberdeen penalty award

Controversial Euro 2016 whistler Willie Collum incurred the wrath of Kilmarnock fans after giving Aberdeen a dubious penalty for the opening goal in Saturday’s 4-0 win at Rugby Park.

Willie Collum referee (Motherwell v Celtic - 9th April 2016)
Meeting: It was Collum’s second encounter with Aberdeen this season after their goalless draw with St Johnstone on the opening weekend (Picture from Sky Sports)

Notoriously card-happy and not one to shy away from a big decision, Willie Collum is no stranger to controversy. 

And Scotland’s Euro 2016 referee found himself in the spotlight again on Saturday after a penalty award which had more than a hint of contention about it.

Kilmarnock were containing Aberdeen well until the 25th minute of their Scottish Premiership encounter at Rugby Park when Killie keeper Jamie MacDonald and Dons playmaker James Maddison came together.

On first viewing, it seemed MacDonald had been fouled by Maddison, losing the ball from his grasp before the slightest of contact sent the on-loan Norwich man to the deck.

Many home supporters expected a free-kick for their side, but were left aghast when Collum pointed to the spot and booked MacDonald to boot.

It allowed Adam Rooney to send the keeper the wrong way from 12 yards and gave the Dons the platform to a comfortable 4-0 victory in Ayrshire, with Rooney scoring later after strikes from defenders Andy Considine and Ash Taylor.

It was a tough decision for Collum to make, with the incident happening at such a fast pace, but he wouldn’t find much sympathy on social media as Scottish football followers roundly condemned the call…

What do you think? Vote in the poll below…

Religious Education teacher Collum, 37, has now brandished 42 yellow cards, sent off two players and awarded four penalties in 12 games in all competitions this season.

Five-star Celtic thrash 10-man Rangers in season’s first Old Firm derby

Moussa Dembele’s hat-trick helped Celtic thump five past Rangers in the first Old Firm derby in the Scottish Premiership for five seasons to maintain their 100% start to the league campaign.

  •  Dembele nets perfect hat-trick: header, left foot & right foot
  •  First league Old Firm for four and a half years
  •  Rangers suffer first Scottish Premiership defeat of season
  •  Rodgers gets better of Warburton as bosses clash in dugout for first time
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Star of the show: The Frenchman took his tally of Celtic goals to seven in all competitions already this season with a stunning hat-trick showing (Picture from Sky Sports)

MOUSSA Dembele scored a sensational hat-trick as a dominant Celtic swatted 10-man Rangers aside in the Scottish Premiership’s first Old Firm derby for five seasons.

The former Fulham striker, who only started because Leigh Griffiths was ruled out through injury, notched a double in the space of nine first-half minutes with a header and fine finish.

Joe Garner – on his first start for Rangers – gave the visitors hope by nodding home Kenny Miller’s header from close range on the stroke of half-time.

But Dembele set up Scott Sinclair, who netted for the fourth successive league game, before completing his historic treble to seal the deal.

And substitute Stuart Armstrong added gloss in stoppage time for the Hoops, who have now recorded four wins from four at the start of a league season for the first time since 2010.

The 20-year-old’s first career hat-trick was the first in an Old Firm league game since Stevie Chalmers in 1966, as the eagerly-awaited first league meeting of Glasgow’s fierce rivals since April 2012 delivered in every department and gave the Manchester derby a run for its money.

In truth, it was a comfortable afternoon for the champions, who laid down an early marker in their quest for a sixth successive title, as Brendan Rodgers enjoyed a winning Old Firm debut and his side maintained their 100 per cent start to the campaign in some style.

Brendan Rodgers with Chris Davies and John Kennedy
Sitting pretty: Rodgers, centre, watched on as Celtic moved four points clear of Rangers at the top of the table with a game in hand (Picture from Sky Sports)

In contrast, it was a rotten first trip to Celtic Park for opposite number Mark Warburton as the Gers lost Rob Kiernan to injury and debutant Philippe Senderos to two daft bookable offences – before assistant manager Davie Weir was ordered to the dressing room.

Rangers began brightly but quickly faded away to become second best by some distance as their unbeaten, yet stuttering, return to Scotland’s top-flight came to a painful end at the home of their city neighbours.

For Celtic, it was the perfect warm-up for the start of their Champions League group stage campaign against Barcelona on Tuesday, with the only worry being Scott Brown’s withdrawal with a minor injury on 74 minutes.

Even though it failed to reach breaking point, the Hoops skipper – in his 23rd Old Firm appearance – enjoyed the hugely-anticipated duel with Joey Barton. And the recently retired Scotland international had the last laugh with another verbal jibe, claiming it was “men against boys”.

Although that was the case by the end, it was much tighter in the typically frantic opening exchanges, when lots of inflatables made their way on to the pitch and added to the carnival atmosphere inside a packed Parkhead.

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Watching brief: Celtic’s leading scorer, who missed Scotland duty after coming off against Aberdeen, sat out again with a hamstring injury (Picture from Sky Sports)

Tom Rogic, who scored in April’s Scottish Cup semi-final before missing the decisive spotkick, had a couple of early sighters off target as he took up some intelligent positions in behind Rangers’ three-man midfield.

After an even opening, Celtic came on strong and started the unexpected rout on 33 minutes when Dembele rose above Kiernan to meet Sinclair’s corner before leaving Senderos for dead to confidently finish past Wes Foderingham and put the hosts firmly in control.

Rangers appeared to have dragged themselves back in contention before the interval as Garner bundled in Miller’s header from a James Tavernier cross – the club’s first league goal at Celtic Park in four visits.

After Andy Halliday replaced an ineffective Kranjcar for the start of the second half, the Gers briefly threatened to draw level when Barrie McKay curled a shot wide of the far post.

But the champions soon settled into their rhythm once more as Dembele’s defence-splitting pass released Sinclair, who clipped in off the post to continue his impressive start since arriving from Aston Villa.

As Celtic’s Patrick Roberts and Rangers forward Martyn Waghorn made their respective comebacks from hamstring injuries off the bench, Gers keeper Foderingham had to deny Armstrong and Dembele from distance.

Joey Barton
Me and my big mouth: Barton was made to eat his words as he failed to turn up on the big stage – and Celtic counterpart Brown delivered a statistical masterclass (Picture from Sky Sports)

Rangers began to unravel and a debut to forget for Senderos was compounded when the experienced former Arsenal defender, booked for a foul on Sinclair earlier, was dismissed by Willie Collum for a deliberate and daft handball.

It got worse when Warburton’s right-hand man Weir also received his marching orders for a foul-mouthed rant at fourth official Kevin Clancy.

Celtic showed no signs of letting up and ruthlessly cashed in on the numerical advantage in the closing stages, as Dembele took down a Mikael Lustig cross and fired home his third. He could be forgiven for the overzealous celebrations which earned him a booking.

Armstrong, in his first taste of the famous rivalry, had the final say with a goal his excellent cameo merited – tucking into the bottom corner from Kieran Tierney’s cutback in added time.

The headlines, though, belonged to one man and, with Griffiths confirmed to be absent for the trip to the Nou Camp, Rodgers will be hoping the irrepressible Dembele can continue in the same vein.

As Celtic reflected on setting the standard in the first of four expected Old Firm showdowns this term, Rangers were left to lick their wounds and re-evaluate their options whilst scurrying out of the back door in the east end of Glasgow unnoticed.

But the real winner is Scottish football: the Old Firm is well and truly back, and here to stay!


TEAMS:

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Four derby debutants: Summer signings Dorus de Vries, Kolo Toure, Scott Sinclair and Moussa Dembele tasted the Old Firm for the first time (Picture from Sky Sports)

Substitutes:  Armstrong (on for Rogic 54′), Roberts (on for Forrest 64′) and McGregor (on for Brown 74′)

Not used:  Gordon (GK), Gamboa, Izaguirre, Ciftci.

Booked:  Bitton (8′), Toure (49′), Roberts (80′), Dembele (84′)

Goals:  Dembele (33′, 42′, 83′), Sinclair (61′), Armstrong (90+2′)

 

rangers-xi
Old Firm initiations for five: Philippe Senderos, Josh Windass, Joey Barton, Niko Kranjcar and Joe Garner all lined up against Celtic for the first time (Picture from Sky Sports)

Substitutes:  Halliday (on for Kranjcar 45′), Waghorn (on for Miller 63′) and Forrester (on for Kiernan 72′)

Not used:  Gilks (GK), Hodson, Hill, O’Halloran.

Booked:  Kranjcar (29′), Senderos (63′), Kiernan (68′)

Sent-off:  Senderos (75′)

Goals:  Garner (44′)


MATCH OFFICIALS:

willie-collum-referee
Under the radar: Scotland’s Euro 2016 referee gave seven yellows and a red but managed his third Old Firm derby very well and came through unscathed (Picture from Sky Sports)

Referee: Willie Collum (Scotland) – 8/10
Assistant referees: Douglas Ross and Frank Connor (Scotland)
Fourth Official: Kevin Clancy (Scotland)

Attendance: 60,000


REACTION:

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers: “It was a great day for the club and the team. If you think of all the travelling this team has put in over the last couple of weeks, with a lot of players away, to get back in and produce that level of performance with that energy in the team, I thought it was an outstanding team performance.”

Rangers manager Mark Warburton: “It was hugely disappointing. We were just talking in there that the fans were magnificent for us. I thought we were good in the second half. McKay had a good chance and we were in a good shape but we made some poor decisions and gave away cheap goals. As a group in there, we know that.”

Scottish Premiership: Don Robertson to referee Rangers v Hamilton opener

Don Robertson will take charge of the first SPFL match of 2016-17 at Ibrox, while Nick Walsh and John Beaton are also in action on the opening weekend.

Don Robertson (Dunfermline v Airdrieonians - 29th Jan 2016)
Relative rookie: Robertson has only handled 28 Premiership games to date – issuing 82 yellows, eight red cards and awarding nine spotkicks (Picture from BBC ALBA)

DON Robertson will take charge of the first match of the 2016-17 Scottish Premiership season when Rangers host Hamilton Academical on Saturday.

The 29-year-old is a surprise choice to referee the top-flight opener as the promoted Gers take on Accies in the televised lunchtime encounter (KO 12:30 BST, live on Sky Sports).

He will be ably assisted by Graeme Leslie and Brian Templeton, with Craig Charleston performing fourth official duties.

It’s the start of Robertson’s third season in the Premiership having received his first match on the opening weekend two years ago in Hamilton’s 2-0 home defeat by Inverness – after being promoted with Andrew Dallas in the summer of 2014.

The Glasgow whistler officiated nine top-flight games in his debut campaign and 19 last season, when he established himself as a regular with 41 games in all competitions.

Don Robertson stats
Statistics: How Don Robertson’s 2015-16 campaign fared across all competitions (Picture from Transfermarkt.com)

Robertson has brandished four yellow cards in as many League Cup games so far this term and awarded one penalty but is yet to send a player off.

He has already encountered Hamilton in their 3-0 win over St Mirren at New Douglas Park on July 23 and made history by handling the first game of the revamped Betfred Cup in Dundee United’s penalty shootout success over Arbroath.

Robertson – who is an accountant by occupation – was also in charge of Partick Thistle’s 4-1 win at Stenhousemuir and Motherwell’s 3-0 victory over Stranraer at Stair Park last weekend.

He will be in Croatia as late as Thursday night as fourth official to John Beaton for the Europa League third qualifying round second leg between Hadjuk Split and FC Olexandriya.

Robertson has been a Category One official since 2012, the same year he oversaw the Scottish Junior Cup Final.

He began refereeing at the age of 17 after playing semi-pro with Partick Thistle, Queen’s Park and St Mirren.

Robertson has played a supporting role for a number of crucial games – having been an additional assistant referee for two Scottish Cup semi-finals and the 2015 Scottish Cup Final between Inverness and Falkirk.

He was the fourth official for Rangers’ 4-0 win over Peterhead in the Petrofac Training Cup Final at Hampden – and fulfilled the same role at Ibrox on the opening weekend in 2013 for the Gers’ 4-1 win over Brechin City in League One.

It will be a quick reunion with the Light Blues for Robertson, who was the referee for their final game of the Championship season on May 1 in the 2-2 draw at St Mirren.


ELSEWHERE…

John Beaton in action (Partick Thistle v Celtic - 9th August 2015)
Different role: Beaton was an additional assistant referee at Euro 2016 as part of Willie Collum’s team of officials for two group games (Picture from BT Sport)

John Beaton will be the man in the middle for Celtic’s opening league game against Hearts on Sunday.

The 34-year-old, from Lanarkshire, takes charge when the champions visit Tynecastle for Brendan Rodgers’ first Premiership match at the helm (KO 2:15pm, live on Sky Sports).

He will be assisted by David McGeachie and Gary Hilland, while Alan Muir – who was the referee for Celtic’s 3-1 win in the teams’ last encounter – is the fourth official.

Beaton didn’t have his best game in Celtic’s 2-1 victory over the Jambos in the League Cup quarter-finals last October – his only previous fixture between the sides.

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.

Beaton handled three Celtic league games – their 2-0 Glasgow derby win at Partick Thistle and 3-1 victory over St Johnstone in August, and goalless draw at home to Dundee in March.

Overall, he brandished 156 yellow cards, sent off 10 players and awarded 10 penalties in 45 matches across all competitions.

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.

John Beaton in action (Dundee Utd v Dundee - 11th August 2015)
Experience: Beaton, whose cousin Steven Nicholls is a referee, first took up the whistle in 1997 (Picture from Sky Sports)

MEANWHILE…

Nick Walsh in action (Hibs v Alloa - 21st Feb 2016)
Rookie: Walsh will take charge of only his fourth Premiership match in Maryhill on the opening weekend (Picture from Sky Sports)

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.

The Glasgow-born whistler only handled his first top-flight game in April and received two more before the end of the season.

He was in the middle for Partick Thistle’s 1-0 defeat at Ross County and 2-1 loss at home to Dundee, as well as Hearts’ 1-1 draw with Ross County on the final day of the season.

Walsh was one of the most card-happy officials in Scotland having brandished 123 yellow cards and 14 red cards in 32 games last term, as well as awarding 10 penalties.

He has been a regular in the Championship and fourth official for numerous Premiership games in the last two seasons.

But his attitude was questioned by Motherwell boss Mark McGhee, who felt his communication should have been better when in control of electronic board duties during April’s 4-1 defeat at Aberdeen.


Willie Collum referee (Scottish Cup Final - 30th May 2015)
Notable meeting: Collum oversaw the 2014 Scottish Cup semi-final between the sides at Ibrox (Picture from Sky Sports)

Euro 2016 referee Willie Collum will be in the middle for Sunday’s other televised game between St Johnstone and Aberdeen.

The 37-year-old school teacher, from Glasgow, will take charge of his second domestic match of the season in the lunchtime kick-off at McDiarmid Park (KO 12:15 BST, live on BT Sport).

He will be assisted in Perthshire by Frank Connor and Douglas Ross, with Greg Aitken on fourth official duties.

Collum performed well in his two games in France before being sent home at the end of the group stages – Turkey’s 2-0 win over the Czech Republic and the hosts’ 2-0 victory against Albania.

The Fifa official – who has been an SPL regular since his 2006 debut – oversaw Dundee’s 7-0 victory against Forfar in the Betfred Cup first round.


Kevin Clancy before the 2016 Scottish League Cup Final
Major honour: Clancy, who handled the 2014 Challenge Cup Final, officiated Ross County’s 2-1 win over Hibs at Hampden in March’s League Cup showpiece (Picture from BBC Scotland)

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.