CRAIG Pawson will referee the 2016 Community Shield between Manchester United and Leicester City at Wembley next month, the Football Association has confirmed.
The South Yorkshire whistler will take charge of the traditional curtain-raiser to the domestic season when FA Cup winners United take on the Premier League champions on Sunday, August 7 (KO 16:00 BST).
He will be ably assisted by Stephen Child (Kent) and Lee Betts (Norfolk), while Bobby Madley (West Yorkshire) has been assigned fourth official duties.
Pawson, who turns 37 on July 18, has only just returned from France after being part of Martin Atkinson’s team of officials who officiated three games at Euro 2016.
It will be a familiar match-up for the Sheffield-based official, who oversaw a 1-1 draw between the sides in the Premier League at the King Power Stadium last November.
That match aside, Pawson also officiated Leicester’s home games against Arsenal, Manchester City and Newcastle last term before their 1-1 draw at Chelsea on the final day of the campaign.
Pawson, who first took up the whistle in 1993, has plenty of previous experience of Wembley having refereed three games and been fourth official for three others.
He was in the middle for Crewe’s 2-0 win over Cheltenham in the 2012 League Two Play-Off Final, Cambridge’s 4-0 victory over Gosport in the 2014 FA Trophy Final and, most recently, Crystal Palace’s 2-1 FA Cup semi-final success against Watford in April.
The Sheffield Wednesday supporter was also on electronic board duties for the 2014 FA Cup semi-final between Wigan and Arsenal, as well as both the Capital One Cup and FA Cup finals in 2015.
And Pawson is looking forward to returning to the national stadium for the eagerly-awaited opener to the 2016-17 campaign.
He told the FA’s website: “It’s a great start to the new season for me, obviously I’m really excited to be back at Wembley.
“Leicester had such a great season and went on to be champions, so it makes for a very exciting game against a Manchester United side with their new manager and new signings.
“It’s the curtain-raiser to the new season and it’s a game that everybody watches.”
David Elleray, chairman of the FA’s Referees Committee, added that Pawson and his team was “carefully chosen” and have “the skills and experience” to handle “what should be a fascinating and entertaining football match”.
In April, Pawson demonstrated the Premier League’s new official timekeeper for next season with Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri, provided by Swiss company TAG Heuer.
It’s also a quick return to the national stadium for fourth official Madley, who assumed the same role for last season’s Capital One Cup Final and refereed Hull City’s 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship Play-Off Final in May.
The 94th edition of the Community Shield, which raises funds for community-based initiatives across England, will be broadcast live on BT Sport.
The game will represent Jose Mourinho’s first competitive outing since replacing Louis van Gaal as United boss and, just like at Soccer Aid in June, he will be up against Ranieri, who masterminded the most unlikely of title successes for the Foxes last term.
LAST FIVE COMMUNITY SHIELD REFEREES:
2015: Arsenal 1-0 Chelsea
Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)
2014: Arsenal 3-0 Manchester City
Michael Oliver (Northumberland)
2013: Manchester United 2-0 Wigan Athletic
Mark Clattenburg (County Durham)
2012: Chelsea 2-3 Manchester City (Villa Park)
Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)
2011: Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United
Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)