PHIL Dowd has been appointed as the referee for Manchester United’s FA Cup fifth round tie with Preston North End at Deepdale next Monday night.
The 52-year-old – who is likely to retire at the end of his 15th season at the highest level – will take charge as the Premier League’s fourth-placed team travels to the fourth-placed side in League One in the final clash of the extended weekend.
He will be assisted by linesmen Dave Bryan and Mike Mullarkey while Football League referee David Webb will act as the fourth official.
Dowd will first be in control of Liverpool against Tottenham in the Premier League on Tuesday night at Anfield having also handled the reverse fixture at White Hart Lane back in August.
Prior to that match, he has officiated 22 games in all competitions so far this season – brandishing 95 yellow cards, sending off four players and awarding five penalties.
The Staffordshire-based whistler has not officiated Preston since September 2009 in a 5-1 Carling Cup defeat at home to Tottenham.
But he has overseen three of United’s Premier League games at Old Trafford this season against Queens Park Rangers, Chelsea and – most recently on January 11 – Southampton.
Only Martin Atkinson (83) has dished out more bookings than Dowd (82) in the top-flight this term among the 17 regular Select Group officials.
He has largely stayed out of the spotlight this season with a series of largely consistent displays in comparison to last term – which ended with six red cards in his last eight Premier League games.
Dowd has completed the full set of high-profile domestic matches having taken charge of the 2010 League Cup Final and 2011 Community Shield – both involving Manchester United, the 2011 Championship Play-Off Final and the 2012 FA Cup Final all at Wembley.
He has been refereeing since 1984 and was promoted to the Football League assistant referees list in 1992 before joining the National List of referees five years later.
In 2001, Dowd was elevated to Premier League level with his first match coming in December that year – and he has since officiated over 300 games in the division.
Dowd – the joint most experienced Select Group referee alongside Chris Foy – is renowned for being fussy and card happy, dishing out 10 bookings in a match between Swansea and Arsenal back in November.
He is also often the subject of taunts from football fans for his waistline with Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho also launching an astonishing tirade against Dowd in which he claimed he was too fat to referee after the Blues’ 5-3 defeat at Tottenham on New Year’s Day.
After a seven-game winless run in all competitions, Simon Grayson’s Preston have won their last two games – including their FA Cup fourth round replay at Sheffield United – ahead of Tuesday night’s League One match at Chesterfield.
United have already overcome Football League opponents in Yeovil and Cambridge in this season’s competition but Louis van Gaal’s team have only won two of their last seven away games.