PREMIER League referee Anthony Taylor has been selected to officiate the decisive top-of-the-table Championship clash between Bournemouth and Middlesbrough this weekend.
The 36-year-old – who was in charge of the Capital One Cup Final earlier this month – will be in the middle at Dean Court for Saturday’s televised lunchtime kick-off as both sides seek to pull clear in the automatic promotion race.
The Cheshire-based official will be assisted by Football League linesmen Scott Oldham and Alan Young while National Group referee Iain Williamson has been assigned to fourth official duties.
It will only be Taylor’s second Championship game of the season having overseen Gary Rowett’s first match in charge of Birmingham in their goalless draw with Midlands rivals Wolves at Molineux back in October.
He has overseen 22 Premier League matches so far this term – only Martin Atkinson and Jon Moss have refereed more.
Taylor was also at the helm for his first major final on March 1 at Wembley as Chelsea beat Tottenham 2-0 to lift the League Cup.
The eagerly-anticipated game on the south coast will be Taylor’s 30th of the season in all competitions so far.
That total includes Arsenal’s 3-0 win over West Ham last weekend when the Wynthenshawe official – who was the fourth official at the Emirates – came on midway through the second half to replace referee Chris Foy who had sustained a calf injury.
The Altrincham FC supporter has brandished 121 yellow cards this term, sent off eight players – including six since the start of 2015 – and awarded 10 penalties.
Taylor has established himself as a regular and reliable choice for Premier League games in this his fifth season at the highest level of English football.
Taylor began in the Northern Premier League in 2002 and advanced to the Conference in 2004 before joining the National List three years later with his first Football League match coming in League Two in August 2006.
Having established himself as a capable and highly-rated official, he was admitted to the Fifa list of international referees in 2013.
He also shared officiating duties at the Soccer Aid charity match – held every two years between England and the Rest of the World – last year with fellow Premier League referee Phil Dowd at Old Trafford.
His selection for this game also represents his growing status among the 17-strong Select Group of referees as well as its importance in the race for promotion to the top-flight.
With eight games remaining, both sides are separated by just two points heading into the weekend with Bournemouth in second place after Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at Cardiff while third-placed Middlesbrough won 1-0 at fellow promotion chasers Derby County in midweek.
Eddie Howe’s Cherries secured a goalless draw at the Riverside Stadium back in November in the reverse meeting while Aitor Karanka’s side have won three of their last four games.