By Mike Slater

23rd May, 2022 | 2:10pm

Keith Hackett praises Willie Collum despite 'naughty' Hearts challenge v Rangers

We’re delighted to welcome former Premier League referee Keith Hackett as our exclusive Rangers columnist. Each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at Ibrox

Keith Hackett has backed Willie Collum after he decided not to hand a red card to Hearts midfielder Peter Haring for his challenge on Rangers star Calvin Bassey.

The ex-FIFA official admitted it was a “naughty” challenge that could have seen him lucky to avoid the ultimate punishment, but believes Collum’s judgment can not be questioned due to his positioning.

Hackett insisted that Haring may have been saved as the stamp was seen as a genuine attempt to win the ball before the Bears lifted the Scottish Cup.

“I think that Collum is a smart referee and very good at handling these types of games,” he exclusively told Ibrox News.

“There’s no question. I’m giving the benefit of the doubt to the player, but it’s a naughty challenge. I think what has saved him is, to some degree, it looks like a genuine attempt to play the ball, but you can’t use that as an excuse.

“I think the player is lucky to escape a red card for that challenge, but in saying so, Willie Collum is closer to it than I am, so I’ll go with Collum’s judgement.”

Lucky.

Haring is very lucky given the verdict from Hackett.

You can tell that he is backing Collum, but also wouldn’t have been surprised if he was given his marching orders for the challenge that could have seriously harmed Bassey.

With VAR coming in next season to Scotland, players will have to be much more careful than this if they don’t want to see their afternoons cut short.

Collum made his judgement with one split look at the challenge, albeit from a good position, but that introduction of technology next season will give him another look at incidents like this if needed.

It will be very interesting to see how officiating changes.

In other Rangers news, One 25-year-old could now be deemed as surplus to requirements at Ibrox this season