JAMES Linington will take charge of the televised London derby between former Premier League sides Charlton Athletic and Fulham in the SkyBet Championship this weekend.
The 36-year-old will oversee his third Championship match of the season at the Valley in the Sunday lunchtime encounter (KO 12pm, live on Sky Sports).
He will be ably assisted by Stephen Finch (Suffolk) and Andrew Laver (Hampshire) while the fourth official is newly-promoted Football League referee Lee Swabey (Devon).
Linington – from the Isle of Wight – has already had a busy start to the campaign and will handle his 11th game in the middle in all competitions in south London this weekend.
The 6ft 2in self-employed plumbing and central heating engineer – who has been fourth official for two Premier League games this term – will also fulfill the same role on Tuesday night at Brentford’s Championship clash with Birmingham City at Griffin Park.
Linington has brandished 25 yellow cards so far this season and is yet to award a penalty but was scrutinised throughout his only other televised game in League Two earlier this month when sending off a player from each side in Oxford United’s 1-0 victory at Bristol Rovers.
The dismissal of Ollie Clarke after just 16 minutes – for what appeared to be an innocuous challenge as he competed for an aerial ball with Danny Rose – was later rescinded by the FA.
It will be the first time he encounters Charlton since their 3-0 win over Huddersfield in February while he hasn’t controlled a Fulham match in over a year since their 1-0 home defeat by Wolves in August 2014.
The Newport-based whistler has to travel the furthest to get to games by catching the ferry from Fishbourne port across the Solent before making the rest of his journey by car.
Linington took up the whistle at the age of 14 before giving up football playing as a winger because he was told he was ‘not strong enough’.
He said: “I was released from a club at the age of 15 because I was not strong enough to play in adult football and at the level I intended to play at. I took up refereeing to stay involved in football with the intention to return to playing when I became stronger.”
He rose through the Wessex, Southern, Isthmian and Western leagues – initially specialising in being an assistant referee through his career in the professional game.
Linington – who has ambitions to become a Premier League referee in the future – was appointed to the Select Group of assistant referees in 2006 and ran the line in the 2006 League One play-off final at Cardiff’s Millenium Stadium.
He became a Football League referee two years later and enjoyed two trips to Wembley in 2010 – as fourth official for the FA Trophy Final between Barrow and Stevenage before handling his biggest game so far in the League Two play-off final as Dagenham beat Rotherham 3-2.
Linington has been involved in several bizarre moments throughout his officiating career so far.
He sent off three Swansea players in their Carling Cup defeat to Scunthorpe in 2009, awarded a controversial penalty to the Iron and forced an injured player to come back onto the field in order to complete the game but the FA insisted they were ‘satisfied’ with his performance.
Last year, Linington forgot to bring his red card to the Cardiff City Stadium and had to borrow the linesman’s to send off Reading defender Alex Pearce against the Bluebirds.
He was also accused of ‘mocking’ Birmingham captain Paul Robinson about the scoreline whilst booking him in a 3-3 draw with Burnley at St Andrew’s two seasons ago.
Charlton were last in the top-flight in 2007 while Fulham were relegated in 2014 after 13 seasons in the Premier League.
BANKES TO OVERSEE BURNLEY’S FRIDAY NIGHT TRIP TO YORKSHIRE
Peter Bankes will be the man in charge for Rotherham’s SkyBet Championship clash with Burnley on Friday night in front of the Sky cameras (KO 7:45pm).
The 33-year-old Merseyside whistler will oversee the Millers’ first game since the departure of manager Steve Evans when the play-off chasing Clarets visit the New York Stadium.
He will be assisted in south Yorkshire by linesmen James Mainwairing and David Plowright while the fourth official is Mark Heywood (Cheshire).
Bankes only took charge of his first Championship game back in February and is only in his second season as a Football League referee.
The Football Services Officer in Coach Education at Liverpool FA spent two years running the line in the Premier League – during which he was an assistant referee for FA Cup and Capital One Cup semi-finals – and officiated in the Conference.
He received a trial Football League game in January 2014 when handling Plymouth Argyle’s League Two match against Mansfield Town before gaining promotion the following summer.
Bankes has also been the fourth official for several Premier League games and, last season, was in the middle for the League Two play-off semi-final first leg between Plymouth and Wycombe.
Earlier this month, he was also selected to officiate the Capital One Cup third round tie between Premier League sides Leicester City and West Ham at the King Power Stadium in which he delivered an assured display – brandishing seven yellow cards.
In his first full campaign on the National List, he sent off seven players, awarded five penalties and issued 98 yellow cards in 27 games across four different competitions.
It will be Bankes’ sixth second-tier game of the campaign so far and his 11th in all competitions – booking 42 players in total in the previous 10 and pointing to the spot three times but he is yet to produce a red card.
The former accounts manager’s other televised game this term was Coventry’s 2-1 win over Burton Albion at the Pirelli Stadium in League One – when he allowed a controversial Romain Vincelot goal to stand although replays confirmed the midfielder was onside.
It will be the first time that Bankes has encountered either Rotherham or Burnley with the hosts looking to secure a third successive league win against Sean Dyche’s men – who were relegated from the Premier League last term and hoping to bounce back from a 2-1 defeat by Reading.
KAVANAGH SET FOR TELEVISED MOLINEUX CLASH
Chris Kavanagh will be the man in the middle for Wolves’ SkyBet Championship encounter with Huddersfield Town at Molineux on Saturday.
The 29-year-old from Manchester will take control of the lunchtime game (KO 12:15pm, live on Sky Sports) for the second weekend running after a solid performance at the Stadium MK.
He will be assisted in the west Midlands by linesmen David Benton (South Yorkshire) and Kevin Mattocks (Lancashire), with Stephen Martin (Staffordshire) on electronic board duties.
The highly-rated Kavanagh – who handled Burton Albion’s goalless draw with Sheffield United in League One in midweek – will take charge of his fourth Championship match of the campaign and his 10th in all competitions.
The Lancashire-born whistler has brandished 29 yellow cards, awarded two penalties and is yet to send a player off so far this term.
Kavanagh is in his second season as a Football League referee but is already considered to be among the Talent Group vying for promotion to the Premier League and has officiated both Aston Villa and Newcastle in the Capital One Cup this term.
It will be his second visit to Molineux already this season – and only his second Wolves game overall – having handled their 2-1 win over Charlton last month.
Kavanagh – who has been Manchester FA’s Referee Development Officer since May 2014 – has also encountered Huddersfield twice before in their 3-1 win over Watford in January and 4-1 defeat at Brentford in March.