NOW we have all been informed Celtic will face their Ibrox foes in the final Premiership derby of the season at Parkhead on Saturday May 11 with a 12.30pm kick-off, may I be permitted to pose a quick question to the SFA?

Do you have anyone in mind to be presented with the coveted silver whistle for the occasion?

Don Robertson got the nod for the opening all-Glasgow confrontation in Govan in early September when Kyogo Furuhashi almost ripped the netting away with a breathtaking winner.

Next up, Nick Walsh was the man in charge for the December meeting in the east end of the city where the Japanese pin-up curled in a delightful left-foot effort for another points-clincher in a 2-1 victory.

WAITING IN THE WINGS…fourth official Willie Collum watches as Brendan Rodgers and Philippe Clement shake hands at full-time in the 3-3 draw at Ibrox.

John Beaton was reintroduced to the fixture earlier this month and got caught up in his usual controversial melee with the VAR-assisted award of a decidedly dodgy penalty-kick to the hosts in a 3-3 stalemate.

The nearest Willie Collum got to the action that afternoon was to stand between Brendan Rodgers and Philippe Clement and while away the 98 minutes of action as the fourth official.

Clearly there was no way he was going to be afforded the responsibility of actually officiating in that particular skirmish. Especially not after the Ibrox club’s brown brogue brigade had complained long and loud about his VAR performance in the previous meeting between the teams.

Remember the preposterous whining that droned from the fabled marbled halls just before the turn of the year when the Govan gurus took exercises in futility to an all-time low?

They howled at the moon as toys from the pram were fired in every direction because they didn’t get a penalty-kick – pass the smelling salts, nurse – when onfield official Walsh saw nothing untoward in Alistair Johnston’s hand movement and the ball on the touchline with Abdallah Sima in close proximity.

There was no immediate intrusion from VAR, but, shortly afterwards, Collum, scrutinising the build-up play on the multi screens, presented incontestable proof that the Ibrox forward had been offside, so any remote hope of a spot-kick gift was well and truly obliterated.

End of argument? I envy you your positivity and common sense.

Professor Phil displayed signs of what was to come when he joined in the irrational beseeching of his board and the entire pathetic episode culminated in a ridiculous attempt to have Collum, a FIFA-ranked referee and rated one of the best in this country, barred from ever taking charge of any of their future matches.

Please form the following words into a well-known phrase or saying: Time Waste Of Bloody.

As it happens, Collum did return to the venue to take charge of the Scottish Cup-tie against Scott Brown’s Ayr United. It was a nondescript interlude that passed into history without a murmur.

However, I reckon we had more chance of the sun being blotted out by flying pigs than Collum, lips pursed and wind instrument at the ready, being the main man on the south side of the city ten days ago.

Crawford Allan is about to be catapulted into oblivion as he sheds his title of SFA head of refereeing operations. Earlier this year, after the daft and oafish demand from Ibrox, he reassured us: “At no point will a club influence a decision of a referee appointment in Scotland.

“I can categorically state that the Scottish FA will appoint referees to the best of that person’s experience, ability and professionalism.”

Gratifying to know The Marx Brothers’ script writers are alive and well and still producing gibberish.

And that, dear reader, takes your humble scribe back to the original question: Who is being lined up for the game which may – or may not – be a title decider?

Will any one from Messrs Robertson, Walsh or Beaton get a second outing? Or will someone else be ceremoniously awarded the treasured whistle?

Someone such as Willie Collum, for instance?


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