One of Scotland’s top referees is making headlines again following his horror show in yesterday’s Premiership tie between Aberdeen and Hamilton.
Whistler Willie Collum is regarded as one of the most respected in the country, has been refereeing at the top level in Scotland for over a decade and regularly takes charge of major European matches, however, his performances have been questioned a number of times in recent months – none more so than Sunday’s game at New Douglas Park.
Albeit not helped by his assistants, Collum failed to award Aberdeen a goal when Adam Rooney’s effort struck the underside of the bar before bouncing a foot over the line, he also awarded an Accies free kick when Rooney was wrestled to the ground by Hamilton defender Jesus Garcia Tena.
In an effort to show it was not just Rooney he was targetting, Collum also disallowed a perfectly good David Goodwillie goal and a debatable goal from Sunday’s man-of-the-match, Andrew Considine.
His performance comes just a month after he was dropped by the SPFL for two rounds of matches.
Yet the issue a number of people find the most alarming is that fact that Collum still represents Scotland on the European and international stage on a regular basis – this season alone he has taken charge of European giants Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Juventus.
Willie Collum this season
- 31 games
- 101 yellow cards
- 12 red cards
- CSKA Moscow 0-1 Bayern Munich
- Barcelona 3-1 Ajax
- Juventus 0-0 Atl Madrid
- Montenegro 1-1 Sweden
- Romania 1-1 Hungary
For a long time now questions have been asked of referees across Scotland but Collum attracts more stick than most and, although assistants David McGeachie and Dougie Potter failed to help him at the weekend, Collum’s New Douglas Park performance will only add to the criticism regularly sent his way.
After the match Dons boss Derek McInnes was willing to forgive Collum, but he admitted that could have been different had his team not still won the match: “Thankfully the decisions haven’t impacted on the result, otherwise we might be making a bit more of it.
“I’ve not seen Considine’s header again but I have seen the other two. Rooney’s should stand, it’s a good bit over the line. When you see how far it was over the line, we should be getting that right.”
But criticism of Collum comes from further than just the Dons dugout – social media was awash with Collum bashing on Sunday night, while there is even long standing Facebook page simply titled ‘Sack Willie Collum’ and a Twitter account @WillieCollum that refers to itself as ‘Willie watcher’ and does nothing other than poke fun at the 36-year-old.
All this fuss about vanishing spray. I've been making players vanish from matches for years. #LiveForReds
— Willie Watcher (@WillieCollum) February 5, 2015
Social media reaction to Collum’s efforts on Sunday
Thought: Craig Thompson and Willie Collum earned more in last 2 games (3 hours 'work') than most people earn in a month (140 hours work)…
— Aberdeen Changed (@AberdeenChanged) February 15, 2015
Willie Collum – a permanent embarrassment of an official. Absolutely incredible that he officiates european games. He's been awful for years
— Graeme Thomson (@thommo_g) February 15, 2015
How much longer do we have to put up with Willie Collum? It's beyond a joke that he's still refereeing football matches.
— Dave Taylor (@SCDave86) February 15, 2015
Why is Willie Collum allowed to officiate??
— Christopher Chree (@Chree_91) February 15, 2015
What next for Collum?
While Collum is coming in for a lot of stick just now, he had previously done a lot of good work in his referee gear (honestly!).
Collum first took charge of a Scottish league match in 2004 and worked his way up the leagues, first refereeing in the top flight in April 2006 and then taking charge of his first Champions League match in 2010, two years later his performances earned him a place at the FIFA Elite Referee level – taking place on the 24-strong list of the world’s leading referees.
Has his rise to the top got the better of him? Has he become complacent? Was he simply never that good a referee?
Whatever the case, the SPFL need to decide what to do with the whistler. Dropping him down the leagues seems disrespectful to teams in the Championship, League One and League Two, dropping him from Scottish football entirely seems a tad extreme.
However the SPFL do decide to deal with the situation in the short term, following the example set by the game down south and installing goal line technology seems like a step the SPFL must take in the long term.
The problem of course stems from the cost of introducing technology but, given the stick that Collum has taken over the past 24 hours, I reckon he may well be willing to foot the bill himself!
Collum doing what Collum does best