I RECKON I have more chance of growing wings and learning to fly than Willie Collum being handed the silver whistle before Celtic’s game at Ibrox on Sunday April 7.

It would be a reasonable assumption that Crawford Allan, Scotland’s head of referees, and his cronies have often left your humble scribe in a state of confusion over the years.

Decision-making from our game’s gurus frequently has me searching the calendar to make sure I am not caught in a loop and every day is April 1.

The latest offering from Hampden states Collum could be put in charge of the next derby confrontation. Yes, that’s the same Collum who was the subject of vehement complaint by the Govan brown brogue brigade after their side’s 2-1 loss to the champions at Parkhead on December 30.

WHISTLER IN THE DARK…Willie Collum has been the subject of unreasonable demands from Ibrox. 

I get that the Scottish football rulers cannot be bullied by any club and it was a piece of futility from the Ibrox outfit to even attempt to have a referee effectively banned from ever stepping foot onto the same field when they are in the vicinity.

How puerile and absurd is that? It’s like asking the government to abolish your personal taxes. File that under ‘never let reality ruin your day’.

Bigwig Allan reassured the nation’s media: “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.”

He added: “We totally reject any request from any club that a referee would not be considered for their club appointments.”

Asked if Collum could be the match official for the third all-Glasgow encounter of the campaign, Allan answered: “Willie will be in the frame with every other referee for consideration for games, whether they be in the league, in the Cup or whatever. We’ll make that decision nearer the time.”

Hear, hear!

However, you have to wonder about the wisdom of even contemplating pitching the match official into what is certain to be a tension-laden, knife-edge confrontation that will go a long way to deciding the destination of this season’s Premiership crown.

Remember, please, this a match that will be played out in the midst of a toxic atmosphere where logic and reason will take a backseat as the action unfolds. Undoubtedly, rationale and sanity will be in short supply.

There was little evidence of reasoning from the Ibrox hierarchy in their pointless argument following Collum’s VAR performance at Parkhead just before the turn of the year. Onfield official Kevin Clancy saw nothing untoward in Alistair Johnston’s hand movement in the penalty box as he shielded the ball out of play with Abdallah Sima breathing down his neck.

There was no intrusion from VAR and, shortly afterwards, Collum, reviewing the lead-up play on the multi screens in Clydesdale House in Glasgow, presented irrefutable evidence that the Ibrox player was offside and any forlorn hopes of a penalty-kick would have been rendered null and void.

The entire episode sent the Govan gaffers into a frenzy of discombobulation culminating in an attempt to have the referee barred from ever taking charge of any of their future matches.

Daft doesn’t come near to describing that churlish demand and, in fact, Collum was the man in the middle last weekend during the club’s Scottish Cup-tie against Ayr United. As anyone with a scintilla of grey matter will comprehend, a match against a Championship side and a head-on encounter with Celtic are two different animals.

Common sense would dictate the game in April is handled by another whistler. Alas, as we all know, common sense ain’t that common, but I don’t believe for a heartbeat that the powers-that-be would put their collective grey matter together and conjure up a situation that would see Collum lead out the teams in Govan.

The pressure on the referee would be intolerable. The decison-makers might just as well put a target on the officlal’s back.

HANDS UP…Connor Goldson pushes away a Carl Starfelt shot in the 2-2 derby draw at Ibrox in January last year.

By the way, was I alone in finding it just a smidgen curious that the Ibrox chiefs maintained a vow of silence after a controversial handball incident on their patch in the 2-2 draw with their city neighbours on January 2 last year?

On that occasion, their own centre-back Connor Goldson was involved an impromptu bout of basketball to push away a shot from Carl Starfelt.

Penalty-kick, surely? Nope, onfield ref John Beaton waved play on and there was no intervention from the VAR official with the technology to review a clear handball from all sorts of angles in slow motion.

The whistler was not even instructed to have a second look on the touchline monitor.

The Video Assistant Referee that day?

Willie Collum.


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