Willie Collum RETIRES as whistler appointed SFA's new head of refereeing

Willie Collum
Willie Collum -Credit:SNS Group

Willie Collum has decided to hang up his whistle after being appointed as the SFA's new Head of Refereeing.

The vastly experienced Category One referee will replace the outgoing Crawford Allan, who leaves the role at the end of the season. Collum took charge of Saturday's Old Firm clash at Celtic Park but has decided to retire after almost 30 years of refereeing to take up the top ref job at Hampden. The 45-year-old has also tendered his resignation as a local authority Education Officer as he prepares to take up a new full-time role with Scottish football's governing body.

The SFA hired global sports recruitment experts Elevate Talent to help identify the best man for the job and say Collum's "experience, leadership responsibilities within the Scottish education system, understanding of the Scottish football landscape and resilience made him the outstanding candidate."

Collum refereed at UEFA EURO 2016, the 2015 UEFA Super Cup, in four Scottish Cup finals, two League Cup finals, and in over 250 FIFA and UEFA club and international competitions including the Champions League and Europa League, World Cup and European Qualifiers.

However, he believes the time is right to help current and future referees maximise their potential. Collum said: "I am proud and honoured to be appointed the Scottish FA’s Head of Refereeing. It’s well-known that I took up refereeing at the age of 14 and today’s announcement is the culmination of some of the greatest experiences of my career.

"It’s my strong view that the role of Head of Refereeing is responsible to all of Scottish football, not just the association, as I am fully aware of the passion and expectations from clubs, players, supporters and match officials themselves.

"I wouldn’t have achieved half of what I have as a referee without the support of my colleagues and team-mates within refereeing and my immediate priority is to galvanise the current network of match officials from Category One to those taking the field for the first time. I’ve been in their shoes at every level and want to help others fulfil their potential by overcoming the challenges along the way and seizing the opportunities.

“I will outline my plan in detail when I start officially but I was emphatic throughout the interview process that I want to improve, with consultation and consensus, the operation and delivery of VAR for all concerned. I want to use my experience to alleviate the unsustainable burden on our match officials and improve relations and mutual respect between match officials, club officials, players, coaches and fans.

“I would like to thank Crawford for leading the implementation of VAR and I know I can count on him for advice during the handover period and along the way. I look forward to getting started.”

Scottish FA Chief Executive Ian Maxwell added: “When we announced that Crawford was leaving at the end of the season the board and senior team were clear that we would leave no stone unturned in getting the best candidate for a job that has become significantly more demanding with the arrival of VAR.

“We had applications from experienced candidates across the UK, Europe, North America, Asia and Australia. It is to Willie’s great credit that he emerged as the outstanding candidate from such a strong international field.

“Willie has had a unique refereeing career, which started in his early teens. He has gone on to become one of our most experienced and decorated match officials and has amassed the practical knowledge and experience to make a significant contribution as Head of Refereeing.

“He spoke with passion and purpose on how he sees the role of Head of Refereeing. We look forward to him implementing his plan and I would like to reiterate my thanks to Crawford Allan for his contribution over the last four years, not least leading on the feasibility and implementation of VAR. I know he will be on hand to support Willie during the handover period as required.”