GREATER Manchester referee Anthony Taylor will take charge of the 2015 FA Community Shield between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley on Sunday, August 2.
The 36-year-old, from Wythenshawe, will be in the middle when the Premier League champions face the FA Cup winners at the national stadium for the traditional curtain-raiser to the 2015/16 season.
He will be assisted on the day by linesmen Gary Beswick (County Durham) and John Brooks (Leicestershire) while the fourth official will be Roger East (Wiltshire) and the reserve assistant is Michael Salisbury (Lancashire).
Taylor, who is a self-confessed supporter of Vanarama National League outfit Altrincham FC, has regularly officiated in the top-flight of English football since his promotion to the Select Group of referees in 2011.
It will be the Fifa official’s ninth trip to Wembley and his second in the space of five months after overseeing the Capital One Cup Final between Chelsea and Tottenham in March.
Taylor has also refereed the 2010 FA Vase Final and the FA Trophy Final two years later.
He was appointed fourth official to Kevin Friend for the 2012 Community Shield between Chelsea and Manchester City at Villa Park and the 2013 FA Cup Final to Andre Marriner when 10-man City lost 1-0 to Wigan Athletic.
He told the FA.com: “Wembley is not a strange place, it’s fantastic. I have been fortunate enough to referee there three times before.
“At the level we officiate at we are so lucky to be able to ply our trade at Wembley and experience that feeling when you are stood in the tunnel waiting to come out in front of 90,000 people.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling and one that you would like all football fans to experience.”
Taylor is preparing for the Charity Shield and the season ahead in Greece after being selected as one of the referees for the Uefa Under-19 European Championships – with the assistance of Darren England, John Brooks and fourth official Craig Pawson.
With most of the current top Select Group referees having already received the Community Shield honour, Taylor was seemingly the expected candidate to be appointed this year with Jon Moss and Lee Probert – the 2014 and 2015 FA Cup Final referees – being other surprise options.
Taylor was notably criticised by Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho last season for booking Cesc Fabregas for diving inside the penalty area as the Blues drew 1-1 at Southampton in December.
Overall, he issued 160 yellow cards – the third highest amount among the Premier League referees – and nine red cards in 39 games in all competitions throughout the 2014-15 campaign.
Among his season highlights included first Merseyside and Tyne-Wear derbies, an FA Cup quarter-final, the aforementioned League Cup Final and being an additional assistant referee for Martin Atkinson in the Europa League Final in May.
Taylor oversaw five Arsenal games last season – their 1-1 draw at Leicester, 3-2 defeat at Stoke, 5-0 win over Aston Villa, 4-1 win over Liverpool and goalless draw with Sunderland.
In contrast, he handled just two Chelsea matches – their 2-1 win over Liverpool at Anfield, in which he failed to give the Reds a penalty for a Gary Cahill handball, and the aforementioned draw at St Mary’s.
Taylor first took up the whistle in 1995 and began refereeing in the Evo-Stik leagues in 2002 before progressing to the Conference in 2004 and the Football League two years later.
After a number of impressive displays in the Championship, he was handed a trial match in the Premier League in February 2010 and was subsequently promoted at the start of the 2010-11 season.
Having established himself as a capable official in the top-flight, Taylor was recognised at European and international level when included on the Fifa list of referees in 2013 and has since officiated Europa League games.
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.
Last year’s season opener saw Michael Oliver become the first referee to use the vanishing spray device in an English match as Arsenal swept aside Manchester City 3-0.
The Gunners retained the FA Cup with a record 12th triumph, and sixth under boss Arsene Wenger, after thrashing Aston Villa 4-0 in the final at the end of May.
Goalkeeper Petr Cech is expected to make his Arsenal debut against the team who sold him for £10 million earlier this summer while Chelsea are hoping to lift the Shield for the first time since 2009 and Wenger is still awaiting his first victory over Jose Mourinho.
The Blues were crowned Premier League champions for the fourth time with three games to spare in Mourinho’s second season of his second spell at Stamford Bridge.
The 93rd edition of the Charity Shield, sponsored by McDonalds, will be screened live on BT Sport with kick-off at 3pm.
The fixture is taking place a week earlier than usual due to an early start to the Premier League season because of Euro 2016 next summer.
LAST FIVE COMMUNITY SHIELD REFEREES:
2014: Michael Oliver (Arsenal 3-0 Manchester City)
2013: Mark Clattenburg (Manchester United 2-0 Wigan)
2012: Kevin Friend (Chelsea 2-3 Manchester City)
2011: Phil Dowd (Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United)
2010: Andre Marriner (Chelsea 1-3 Manchester United)