Scottish Cup final: Referee Bobby Madden Q&A

Scottish Cup final referee Bobby Madden
"First and foremost: enjoy walking out and take in the occasion"
Scottish Cup final: Celtic v Aberdeen
Venue: Hampden Park, Glasgow Date: Saturday, 27 May Kick-off: 15:00 BST
Coverage: Watch on BBC One Scotland; listen on BBC Radio Scotland; TV, radio and text coverage on BBC Sport website

Put yourself in the referee's shoes: how would you approach cup final day?

Bobby Madden, and his assistants, are preparing for Saturday's Scottish Cup final between Celtic and Aberdeen at Hampden.

BBC Sport Scotland caught up with the whistler ahead of the game at the National Stadium to ask him about life on and off the pitch.

Has this been your best year as a referee?

Absolutely. We get independent observers who watch us in every match. My marks would dictate that it's been my most successful season. It's gone very well and I think that's partly down to the fact that I'm totally focused on refereeing.

How do you prepare for a cup final?

I'm training as normal and going through the same training programme that I would for every match. Before every match, I also look at teams' tactics: how they set up at set-pieces and corner kicks. I think 28% of goals are scored from set-pieces so it's important that referees are aware of any potential tactics or scenarios teams may run through to try to gain any advantage. So, I'm putting a lot of attention into the way both teams are set up in recent matches and matches against each other this season.

Do you identify players from both sides who can help you manage the game?

We're under pressure but so are the players. Some players deal with that differently but some who you deal with are always the same and you can talk to them. There are players in both teams that I know I can talk to on Saturday if there's anything I want to address or get a message to a particular player, who I think is under more pressure.

How do you get on with both managers?

Great, I think both of them are good guys. First and foremost, they're very good coaches and I have had several discussions with Derek over the years. Brendan's come in this year and I've been involved in [Celtic] matches and as a fourth official, so, the managers are definitely good for our game.

Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes (left) and Celtic counterpart Brendan Rodgers
Madden on McInnes & Rodgers: "I think both of them are good guys..."

Additional assistants at the game. How do you feel about that?

We only operate with them in Scotland in the semi-finals and final of the Scottish Cup, but in Europe we use them in the group stages of the Europa League and Champions League. So, I've got a lot of experience [with them], and the additional assistants we're using on Saturday - Steven McLean and Nick Walsh - have also got good experience. So, they obviously help deal with those important key match incidents in and around the penalty area. That extra bit of support gives me confidence to referee other areas of the field of play.

Should video technology be used more?

Additional [assistants] are a major benefit and I think video assistant refereeing could be another benefit. It's been trialled in other countries and at the Under-20 World Cup; we're seeing good results through that. Anything that can see the referee team reach the correct decision on the field of play would be accepted readily by officials, players, spectators and everyone.

Any nerves before a final?

I'm okay just now. The only difference is coming to Hampden today [Thursday] to do media, which I wouldn't do for any other match; other than that I'll prepare as normal and try to stay as calm as possible. It ramps up every time you put the TV on and read the newspapers, so it's probably trying to remove yourself from that a little and treat it as best you can as a normal match. The cup final is about the stories, the players, the managers, the tactics and the goals. I think every referee and official hopes that, the evening after the cup final, that the talking point isn't the referee.

Adele is a no-go on Bobby Madden's pre-match playlist

Pre-match ritual?

I don't have any rituals as such. Every evening before a match I'll have pasta for dinner - it's fairly standard. It's the referee's meal of choice. In the changing room, everyone has their own music that they put on. I'll have a playlist and probably add some songs in the coming days. You usually add songs that mean something to you or are more uplifting.

Towards kick-off you start putting on some of the old skool dance tunes that I would've listened to growing up in about 1992/93. I've invited songs from the [referee] team but I'll have the final say as to what gets played. There are a few shocking suggestions, someone, who I won't identify, mentioned Adele. But I think I'll stick mostly to my music.

Last thing you will say to assistants before heading on to pitch?

Try to relax. First and foremost: enjoy walking out and take in the occasion. Then it's relax as much as you can and ensure we communicate as a team. Really focus on getting those big decisions correct…

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