Confirmed: SFA shuffle referees after winter break; who Celtic have for Hibs and Glasgow Derby

By Euan Davidson

January 15, 2022

The SFA have released a revised list of referee appointments [SFA], and Celtic have found out who they have for crucial games against Hibernian and Rangers.

Owing to the winter break, a previously announced schedule was changed. Bobby Madden had been named for the Celtic v Hibernian clash on December 29th. However, it’s now Willie Collum who’ll have the whistle on Monday night.

Then, it’s the Bobby Madden show. Madden will be the whistler when Celtic face Rangers on the 2nd of February [SFA]. In what’s sure to be a breakneck affair for the Hoops, it’s a largely unpopular referee taking charge.

Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

Madden has had a strange season, even for a Scottish referee’s standards. The SFA ref blew the whistle on Celtic 27 times against Aberdeen, a game in which the Hoops dominated possession. He was also embroiled in controversy after Celtic v Hearts, when SFA head of referees Crawford Allan made a bizarre radio appearance.

Chris Iwelumo slammed Madden earlier in the season, after Rangers somehow avoided a red card for Jon McLaughlin’s lunge on Dundee man Paul McMullan. McLaughlin saved the resultant penalty.

Refereeing in the Scottish Premiership has been repeatedly called into question. Yesterday, it was revealed in The Times [print edition, 14/1/22, p. 73] that VAR wouldn’t make a SPFL vote until April.

Truly, with the SFA and referee appointments, it’s a new headache every week.

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Celtic will have to deal with SFA referee appointments against Hibernian and Rangers despite earlier controversies

It’s tough, but we have to go with Ange Postecoglou’s ideology on this.

Last month, the Celtic boss said of SFA referee decisions and his side [Herald]: “My focus is on the way we play our football and making sure we encourage this group of players to build a team that’s resilient to withstand any challenges that are put before us.

“My view on referees has been consistent since day one.”

The temptation is to worry, obviously. It’s not as if Willie Collum or Bobby Madden are especially popular referees at Celtic Park. Madden, in particular, is being given a massive fixture despite being publicly called into question. That seems odd, but Celtic can’t change that.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The goal is to ultimately make referees a non-factor. As well it should be. Yes, we’ll have moans and gripes about decisions. But Celtic’s job is to ensure that they don’t have a material effect on the game, beyond blowing for the kick-off and full-time.

It is, as ever, a crucial period for Celtic. What we’ve got to hope is that no dodgy calls, bizarre red cards or subsequent radio interviews emerge from either of the Hibs or Rangers games.

When that’s the best you can hope for, it really does say a lot.

Regardless, Celtic have a job to do.

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