SFA appoint rookie ref for Celtic shot at redemption

By Euan Davidson

April 27, 2021

Nick Walsh has been appointed by the SFA to referee the final Celtic v Rangers match this season.

Walsh, only 30, has a burgeoning reputation on the European stage. He’s officiated international fixtures, including Wales v USA in November 2020. His last Celtic match was the 6-0 win over Livingston [BBC], with no cards given to either side. For Sunday’s Glasgow Derby, he’s joined by a team of Alan Mulvanny, Calum Spence and a familiar Fourth Official in Willie Collum [SFA].

In 19 Premiership matches so far this season, Walsh has been relatively card-happy. Overall, he’s dished out 47 yellow cards and 5 straight reds, while awarding 6 penalty kicks [Transfermarkt]. That’s roughly comparable with a referee like Bobby Madden, who has given out 38 yellows in 16 Premiership meetings, sending off 3 players in total [Transfermarkt].

While this is a match with pretty low stakes, especially for a Glasgow Derby, it’s not like that’ll stop players getting heated. Celtic will be desperate to make a mark in the final derby of the season. Going a whole league campaign without landing a blow on Rangers is unthinkable.

If the Bhoys are up for this, laying down a marker early on might be key to set the tone. That being the case, Walsh will have to have his wits about him, even with no crowd in attendance. With that in mind, it’ll be a very strange Derby debut for the young ref, who made his top-flight bow in 2016 [BBC].

Nick Walsh talks to Efe Ambrose / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

SFA make calculated risk for Glasgow Derby

With no crowds in Ibrox on Sunday, this might be a bit easier for Walsh to handle. Undoubtedly, it’s a rite of passage for any Scottish ref to be handed a Glasgow Derby. It certainly takes a level of mental fortitude and more than a hint of masochism to want to officiate a Celtic v Rangers game.

With no famous atmosphere to sway him, the Uddingston-born ref will know all about the fixture. It’s a landmark moment for Welsh. Admittedly, the game has no real consequence, but talking points from these fixtures last for years.

Here’s hoping he’s up to the task.

From a Celtic point of view, this is one last chance to lay a glove on our fiercest rivals. With John Kennedy nearing the end of his interim spell, he’ll surely be desperate to get a derby win on his CV as he looks to the future.

Try telling anyone involved that this is low-stakes.

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