MICHAEL Oliver will be the referee for the 2015 FA Trophy Final between Wrexham and North Ferriby United at Wembley Stadium later this month.
The Northumberland official will be assisted by Select Group linesmen Stuart Burt (Northamptonshire) and Marc Perry (West Midlands) while Football League referee Simon Hooper (Wiltshire) will be the fourth official.
It will be a fifth appearance in the middle at the national stadium for Oliver, who began his season officiating the Community Shield as Arsenal beat Manchester City.
He was also in control of Arsenal’s FA Cup semi-final win over Wigan on penalties last term, Wigan’s FA Cup semi-final victory over Millwall in 2013 and the 2009 League One play-off final between Scunthorpe and Millwall.
The appointment came on the same day that his outstanding display in Manchester United’s FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Arsenal was roundly praised – particularly on social media.
The Ashingdon-based whistler booked both Angel di Maria and Adnan Januzaj for diving at Old Trafford and sent off the former for appearing to grab at his shirt as he turned away.
After taking a two-week holiday to New York with his fiancee – fellow referee Lucy May – for his 30th birthday last month, Oliver returned to action after almost a month out when Tottenham entertained Swansea in the Premier League at White Hart Lane last Wednesday.
Widely regarded as one of the best officials in the country, the youngest Select Group referee has been regularly considered for the big games having overseen a North London derby, Manchester derby and a Capital One Cup semi-final second leg.
The latter was another impressive showing from Oliver at Stamford Bridge despite him failing to spot a stamp by Chelsea striker Diego Costa on Liverpool’s Emre Can.
Oliver has officiated 27 games in all competitions so far in 2014-15 – brandishing 107 yellow cards, sending off six players and awarding 11 penalties.
The highly-rated official – who quit as head of Northumberland FA’s referee academy in November – was also in the middle for the League Cup quarter-final between Sheffield United and Southampton after being called up as a late replacement for Chris Foy.
Oliver – inspired to take up the whistle by his father Clive, who is a retired Football League referee – quickly established himself as an accomplished top-flight official with a confident and assured but less flamboyant approach.
He has embarked on a remarkable rise, becoming the Premier League’s youngest ever official in August 2010 after three successful years in the Football League and four seasons progressing through the non-league pyramid.
He is now a Fifa Category One official following his promotion in 2012 and has taken charge of several Europa League and international matches while he was also an additional assistant at the Uefa Super Cup Final in Cardiff back in August.
The final of the FA Trophy – competed for by teams in the fifth to eighth tiers of English football – is normally awarded to an up and coming referee among the Select Group with the recently-promoted Craig Pawson in charge of last year’s showpiece.
Unsurprisingly, Oliver has never officiated a North Ferriby United in the past but has encountered Wrexham on one occasion against Bradford in August 2007 when the Welsh side were in League Two.
Wrexham beat Conference Premier rivals Torquay United 5-1 on aggregate to reach their second Trophy final in three years.
Yorkshire village outfit North Ferriby – of the Conference North – overcame Bath City on penalties to secure their first ever Wembley outing after a 3-3 draw on aggregate in the semis.
The final will take place on Sunday March 29 with the 1:30pm kick-off live on BT Sport 1.
PREVIOUS TEN FA TROPHY FINAL REFEREES
2014: Craig Pawson (Gosport Borough 0-4 Cambridge United)
2013: Jon Moss (Grimsby 1-1 Wrexham * Wrexham won 4-1 on pens)
2012: Anthony Taylor (Newport County 0-2 York City)
2011: Stuart Attwell (Mansfield 0-1 Darlington)
2010: Lee Probert (Barrow 2-1 Stevenage AET)
2009: Mike Jones (Stevenage 2-0 York City)
2008: Martin Atkinson (Ebbsfleet 1-0 Torquay)
2007: Chris Foy (Kidderminster 2-3 Stevenage)
2006: Howard Webb (Grays Athletic 2-0 Woking)
2005: Phil Dowd (Grays Athletic 1-1 Hucknall * Grays Athletic won 6-5 on pens)