SkyBet Championship: Peter Bankes to referee Newcastle United v Aston Villa

The Merseyside whistler will be in the middle for a crunch televised SkyBet Championship clash at St James’s Park between two sides relegated from the Premier League last season.

Prominent: Bankes, who is now in his third season as a Football League referee, oversaw the first leg of the League One play-off semi-final between Barnsley and Walsall at Oakwell last season (Picture from Sky Sports)

The referee has been announced for the crunch SkyBet Championship clash between Newcastle United and Aston Villa on Monday night.

Peter Bankes will take charge of the televised encounter under the floodlights at St James’s Park with kick-off at 20:00 GMT, the Football League has confirmed.

He will be ably assisted by Paul Hodskinson (Lancashire) and David Avent (Northamptonshire), with Jeremy Simpson (Lancashire) on fourth official duties.

A Select Group 2 official primarily officiating in the second-tier, Bankes will oversee his 28th game in all competitions of what has been a busy campaign for him so far.

The 34-year-old has so far brandished 100 yellow cards and a staggering 10 red cards – which is twice the amount he gave in the whole of last season, while only Keith Stroud and Scott Duncan have sent off more players among the 18 Select Group 2 referees.

He has also pointed to the penalty spot on seven occasions – but only one of those spotkicks was in the second tier.

It will be the Merseyside whistler’s 19th Championship match of the season and he won’t forget his only other game involving Newcastle – their memorable 4-3 victory over Norwich at St James’s Park back in September.

Bankes booked 10 players and awarded the Magpies a dubious second-half penalty as they came from 3-1 down with two goals in injury time sealing a comeback victory.

Immediately after that game, he handled the first of his two Aston Villa matches this term – both ending up in 2-0 defeats away from home, which may be a bad omen for Villa boss Steve Bruce, who is bound to receive a hostile reception as a former Sunderland manager on Tyneside.

The notoriously card-happy Bankes issued another eight bookings in their loss at Preston at the start of October and awarded Villa a late spotkick, which Ross McCormack saw saved by Lilywhites keeper Chris Maxwell.

He was then in the middle for their defeat at Leeds United in front of the Sky Sports cameras in December and put in a good performance, with just four yellows given out.

Bankes returned to Elland Road on Tuesday evening as fourth official for Leeds’ match against Bristol City, while he assumed the same role at St James’s Park as recently as February 1 for Newcastle’s 2-2 draw with QPR.

The Liverpool-based official has shown plenty of promise in recent times and has received high praise from former Premier League referees Keith Hackett and Jeff Winter for impressive keeping some challenging games under control.

Fleeting: It will only be Bankes’s third appearance in front of the live TV cameras in all competitions this season (Picture from Sky Sports)

Bankes began officiating in 1996 at the age of 14 whilst a pupil at Bootle High School and served as a Premier League assistant referee for two years, during which he ran the line on FA Cup and League Cup semi-final ties.

Arguably the proudest moment of his career so far was refereeing Cambridge’s 2-1 win over Gateshead in the National League Promotion Final at Wembley in May 2014.

He was subsequently promoted to the Football League list of referees and has since taken charge of two Play-Off Semi-Final ties in League One and League Two, as well as being fourth official for last season’s FA Vase Final.

Bankes has already shown his officiate in the Select Group in the future having overseen several Premier League teams in domestic cup competitions, including Sunderland’s 2-1 EFL Cup win at QPR this season, and been fourth official for numerous top-flight games.

He had a busy time when performing electronic board duties at Turf Moor on Saturday, intervening on more than one occasion as Burnley and Lincoln City coaches clashed during the National League side’s famous 1-0 FA Cup fifth round win.

Meanwhile, Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle will be looking to reclaim top spot in the Championship from Brighton, who won 2-0 at Barnsley on Saturday, and return to winning ways after a 2-2 draw at Norwich in midweek.

Hovering just six points above the relegation zone, Aston Villa would be forgiven for fearing the worst having lost their last four league games and seven of the last eight on the road. The Midlands side, beaten 3-1 at home by Barnsley in midweek, have also not beaten Newcastle since 2011 or won on Tyneside since 2005.

The reverse fixture at Villa Park was also overseen by a Select Group 2 referee, with Chris Kavanagh performing well in September’s 1-1 draw between two sides seeking an immediate return to the Premier League following relegation last season.

Role: Bankes is a former Football Services Officer in Coach Education at Liverpool County Football Association (Picture from Sky Sports)

SkyBet Championship: Tony Harrington to referee Wolves v Aston Villa

The referee has been announced for Saturday’s Midlands derby in the televised evening kick-off at Molineux.

On the box: It will be Harrington’s fourth TV match of the season – two in the Championship, one in League One and one in the EFL Cup (Picture from Sky Sports)

The referee has been announced for Saturday’s SkyBet Championship clash between Wolves and Aston Villa.

Tony Harrington will take charge of the evening kick-off at Molineux, which will be televised live on Sky Sports (KO 17:30 GMT).

The Cleveland whistler has will be assisted for the Midlands derby by Ian Cooper (Kent) and Timothy Wood (Gloucestershire), with Jeremy Simpson (Lancashire) acting as fourth official.

Harrington – a Select Group 2 referee – will oversee his 21st game of the season in all competitions this weekend, which will be his 16th in the second tier.

He has so far brandished 87 yellow cards, sent off two players and awarded two penalties.

The Hartlepool-based official has encountered both sides on previous occasion each this term back in September – in Wolves’ 2-1 defeat at Wigan and Aston Villa’s goalless draw at Ipswich.

Harrington was the subject of criticism from Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez after his side’s victory over Cardiff in November for not protecting his players enough.

After four years as an EFL assistant referee and four years in the National League and National League North, he was promoted to the Football League referees list at the start of the 2012-13 season.

Despite collecting the most bookings in the league this season, Villa are yet to receive a single red card – a statistic which could change in the hotbed of a derby atmosphere, albeit Harrington has a lenient reputation.

The game will see Wolves boss Paul Lambert face his old club for the first time since leaving in February 2015 on a day when the memory of Graham Taylor, who managed both clubs, will be honoured.


You can see the rest of the EFL match official appointments for this weekend here.

SkyBet Championship: Mike Dean to referee Birmingham City v Aston Villa

Premier League referee Mike Dean will be in the middle for Sunday’s Second City derby at St Andrew’s, while James Adcock will take charge of Friday’s clash between west London rivals Brentford and QPR.

Bone of contention: Dean has already split opinion with penalty awards for grappling under the new directives this season (Picture from Sky Sports)

MIKE Dean has been confirmed as the referee for the ‘Second City’ derby between Birmingham City and Aston Villa in the SkyBet Championship this weekend.

The Wirral-based whistler will take control as the two Midlands rivals meet for the first time at St Andrew’s since January 2011 this Sunday lunchtime (KO 12:00 BST, live on Sky Sports).

He will be assisted by Select Group linesmen Simon Long (Devon) and Daniel Cook (Hampshire), with Peter Bankes (Merseyside) on fourth official duties.

It will be a second major derby of the week for Dean after dishing out four yellow cards in Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Manchester City at Old Trafford in the EFL Cup on Wednesday night.

The Football League was expected to appoint an experienced official and it will be a first taste of this particular fixture for Dean, who drops down from the Premier League for the first time this term for what could be a combustible affair between two fierce rivals in contrasting form of late.

He was last seen in the middle at the Emirates on Saturday for Arsenal’s goalless draw with Middlesbrough – delivering an assured display, only booking Gunners defender Shkodran Mustafi.

And Boro were the hosts for his previous Championship outing in May when he sent off Brighton’s Dale Stephens in a 1-1 draw at the Riverside Stadium in a promotion decider on the final day of the league season.

Earlier this month, Dean gave two spotkicks but was criticised for turning down Burnley’s appeals for another one in their 3-1 defeat by Southampton at St Mary’s.

Mike Dean points to penalty spot (Chelsea v Southampton - 15th March 2015)
Spotkick: Dean has awarded more penalties (19) since the start of last season than any other Select Group official (Picture from Sky Sports)

Sunday’s eagerly-awaited showdown will be the 48-year-old’s 11th match of the season in all competitions.

In his 10 games so far, he has brandished 38 yellow cards, sent off Sunderland’s Adnan Januzaj in their 1-0 defeat at Spurs, and awarded six penalties.

The Heswall-based whistler, who is the only referee to have officiated three Championship Play-Off Finals, took charge of three second-tier matches last season.

Meanwhile, Dean handled four Villa games in 2015-16 as they were relegated from the Premier League.

He oversaw their 1-0 home defeat by Manchester United in August and 3-2 defeat at champions Leicester in September, in which they let a two-goal lead slip.

In November, Dean gestured towards the halfway line in a rather excitable fashion when Villa went 2-0 down in their 3-1 defeat against Tottenham at White Hart Lane.

He was also in control of their 1-1 Boxing Day draw with West Ham at Villa Park and 1-0 defeat at Swansea City in March.

Well-known: Former Fifa referee Dean has been a regular in the Premier League since 2000 (Picture from Sky Sports)

Dean has not handled a Birmingham game since January 2012 – their 4-1 win over Leeds United at Elland Road in the Championship.

But he will be remembered most by Blues fans for overseeing their famous 2-1 triumph over Arsenal in the 2011 League Cup Final.

The sides last met at Birmingham’s home in a 1-1 Premier League draw five years ago, officiated by Mark Clattenburg.

But, as Steve Bruce prepares to come up against his former employers, his new club Villa ran out 1-0 winners in a League Cup tie at Villa Park last season – with Bobby Madley the man in the middle on that occasion.


LEEDS, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 04: Referee James Adcock talks to Gaetano Berardi of Leeds United and Chris Maguire of Sheffield Wednesday before giving both players a yellow card during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Sheffield Wednesday at Elland Road on October 4, 2014 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)
Regular: Adcock – one of 18 Select Group 2 officials – will handle his ninth Championship game of the season (Picture from Getty Images)

James Adcock will take charge of Friday night’s televised west London derby between QPR and Brentford at Loftus Road (KO 19:45 BST).

The Select Group 2 referee will be assisted by Adam Matthews, Michael George and fourth official Tim Robinson – who refereed Burton’s 2-0 win over Birmingham last Friday – for his 16th game of the season.

So far this term, he has brandished 41 yellow cards and awarded three penalties but is yet to issue a red card.

Adcock – who only received 10 second-tier matches last term – last encountered Brentford in August, booking two players in their 1-0 defeat at Rotherham.

The Nottinghamshire-based official, who handled the 2011 Conference Play-Off Final, oversaw QPR’s 1-1 draw at Leeds back in April – awarding the visitors an 87th-minute penalty which Tjarron Chery converted.

Adcock was the fourth official who was swore at by Sunderland boss David Moyes and subsequently advised referee Chris Kavanagh to send him off in the Black Cats’ 1-0 EFL Cup defeat at Southampton in midweek.

The 32-year-old, who has ambitions to be a Premier League referee one day, gave up his day job as a PE teacher in the summer to become a full-time referee.

Regarded as a competent official, Adcock began refereeing in 2000 at the age of 16 before progressing through local leagues to join the Conference List in 2009 and the Football League list two years later.

In last season’s meetings between the rivals, Simon Hooper refereed Brentford’s 1-0 win at Griffin Park in October before Fred Graham issued seven yellows in QPR’s 3-0 victory over the Bees at Loftus Road in March.

You can see all of this weekend’s Football League match official appointments here.

SkyBet Football League: Linington, Coote and Scott to referee Championship derbies

James Linington, David Coote and Graham Scott will take charge of the Severnside, Midlands and Yorkshire derbies respectively in the SkyBet Championship this weekend in front of the Sky cameras.

New job: Linington gave up his day job as a self-employed plumbing and central heating engineer to become a full-time referee on the Select Group 2 over the summer (Picture from Sky Sports)

JAMES Linington will be the man in the middle for Friday night’s Severnside derby between Cardiff City and Bristol City.

The Isle of Wight official will be at the helm for Neil Warnock’s first game as Bluebirds boss when the fifth-placed Robins visit the Cardiff City Stadium to face the second-bottom team (KO 19:45, live on Sky Sports).

He will be assisted by Steven Meredith (Nottingham) and Neil Davies (London), with Tim Robinson (west Sussex) on fourth official duties.

Linington encountered both sides in the first month of the season in the Championship.

The 37-year-old awarded QPR a late penalty to help them beat Cardiff 2-0 in south Wales in August, before booking eight players in Bristol City’s 3-1 victory over Aston Villa at Ashton Gate two weeks later.

Overall, he has issued 39 yellow cards, sent off one player and awarded three penalties in seven games this term – five of which have been in the Championship and two EFL Cup ties.

Linington was due to take charge of Derby’s televised match with Newcastle at the iPro Stadium last month but was injured in the warm-up and replaced by the fourth official, Darren Bond.

Linington has probably been the biggest beneficiary of the 18 referees who turned professional in Select Group 2 over the summer.

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.

He will be hoping to stay on the right side of new Cardiff manager Warnock, who has had many a run-in with referees during his career despite being a qualified official himself.

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 has been a Football League referee since 2008 – having spent two years as a Select Group linesman, during which he ran the line in the 2006 League One Play-Off Final at Cardiff’s Millenium Stadium.

But Linington’s biggest honour to date came when refereeing Dagenham & Redbridge’s 3-2 win over Rotherham in the 2010 League Two Play-Off Final at Wembley.

Taking control: It will be Coote’s seventh Championship game of the season this weekend, having only handled 10 in the whole of last season (Picture from Sky Sports)

David Coote has been confirmed as the referee for Aston Villa’s clash with Midlands rivals Wolves on Saturday.

The Select Group 2 official has been put in charge of the evening game at Villa Park when managerless Villa welcome Walter Zenga’s Wolves (KO 17:30 BST, live on Sky Sports).

Coote will be able to call upon the assistance of Shaun Hudson (Tyne & Wesr) and James Wilson (Cheshire), while Andy Madley (west Yorkshire) will be on electronic board duties as fourth official.

The West Yorkshire whistler has been among the busiest in the Football League so far this term, having refereed 11 games and been fourth official for nine others.

He has dished out an average of three yellow cards per match, sent off Reading’s Garath McCleary in their 2-1 win at Barnsley and pointed to the penalty spot three times.

Coote has never officiated an Aston Villa game before but was in the middle for Wolves’ 2-1 defeat against Leeds at Elland Road in April last season.

It will be his second TV game and major derby of the campaign after impressing in his first ever East Anglian derby at Portman Road in August – issuing just one booking in Ipswich’s 1-1 draw with Norwich.

Cricket-loving Coote, originally from Nottinghamshire, first took up the whistle at the age of 14 before progressing to become a Football League referee in 2010.

He has had five trips to Wembley as a match official – his most important as the man in the middle for the 2014 League One Play-Off Final when Rotherham beat Leyton Orient on penalties.

It will be the sides’ first meeting since Villa won 3-2 at Molineux in the Premier League in January 2012.

Graham Scott referee (Wolves v Derby - 27th Feb 2016)
Out of action: Scott only officiated 20 matches last season because of injury but 11 of them were in the Championship (Picture from Sky Sports)

Graham Scott has been assigned to Sunday’s Yorkshire derby between Huddersfield Town and Sheffield Wednesday.

The 48-year-old will be in charge as the current leaders host their south Yorkshire neighbours in what promises to be a competitive contest at the John Smith’s Stadium (KO 12:00 BST, live on Sky Sports).

He will be assisted by Dave Bryan (Lincolnshire) and Matthew Wilkes (west Midlands), as well as fourth official Oliver Langford (west Midlands).

Scott will handle only his eighth match of the season – and fourth in the Championship so far.

He has brandished 26 yellow cards, sent off Gillingham’s Ryan Jackson in their 1-1 League One draw with Bradford, and awarded three spotkicks.

The Oxfordshire whistler was promoted to the Premier League after six seasons in the Football League in the summer of 2015.

But he has since received only six top-flight matches – with his only one this term coming last month in Tottenham’s 2-1 win at Middlesbrough, in which three players were cautioned.

It will be his second TV match of the season after putting in a good display in Leeds’ 2-0 win at Cardiff last month, also in the second-tier.

He awarded the visitors a spotkick under the new shirt-pulling directive at a crucial time after Matthew Connolly hauled down Pontus Jansson, which allowed Chris Wood to open the scoring at the Cardiff City Stadium.

The Abingdon-based official, who has also been fourth official for four games this season, encountered Huddersfield twice last season – in both of their West Yorkshire derbies against Leeds United.

He stayed under the radar during Leeds’ 3-0 win at the John Smith’s last November but booked eight players and awarded Huddersfield a penalty, which Nakhi Wells missed, in their 4-1 win at Elland Road back in March.

Scott controlled three Wednesday matches last term – their goalless draw with Derby in December, a 3-0 win at Nottingham Forest in which he dismissed Barry Bannan in March, and their memorable 3-0 triumph against Arsenal in the League Cup.



Darren Deadman will return to the middle this weekend, despite his poor display in Wimbledon’s 3-1 win at Oxford in League One last Sunday.

Read more about this story here.

You can view a full list of Football League match official appointments here.

SkyBet Championship: Aston Villa hit back to deny Newcastle

Substitute Aaron Tshibola headed a late leveller for Aston Villa as a profligate Newcastle drew for the first time in the Championship this season.

  •  Tshibola’s late header cancels out Elphick own goal
  •  Two former Premier League sides produce all-action affair
  •  Fourth successive draw for Villa
  •  Newcastle drop points for third time in league this term
Elation: Villa celebrated wildly after 21-year-old Tshibola picked the perfect time to pop up with his first career goal in front of the Holte End (Picture from Sky Sports)

AARON Tshibola’s late equaliser earned Aston Villa a morale-boosting point as Newcastle United were left to rue a host of missed opportunities at Villa Park.

The substitute headed in his first Villa goal from a Jordan Ayew corner two minutes from time.

In a pulsating clash between two sides relegated from the Premier League last season, Newcastle were in complete control for long periods and looked set for a seventh win in nine league games as Villa captain Tommy Elphick turned DeAndre Yedlin’s cross into his own net in the first half.

But Mohamed Diame and Dwight Gayle passed up crucial chances for the visitors before Villa rallied late on and could have won it themselves.

Rafael Benitez’s side, considered favourites by many to win the title this term, remain fifth after their first league draw of the season – five points adrift of leaders Norwich, who they welcome to St James’ Park on Wednesday night.

Although their winless run extends to six games, Villa – without the injured Ross McCormack and ill-disciplined Jack Grealish – will be encouraged by their improved second-half display as they moved on to nine points from as many league matches this term.

For the first time in the second-tier, two Champions League winning managers went head-to-head – and Villa boss Roberto di Matteo will undoubtedly be the happier after seeing his side put under severe pressure in the first period.

Jordan Ayew
Off target: The Nigerian has yet to score from 27 efforts at goal in the Championship this season (Picture from Sky Sports)

Villa – who handed a first start to Albert Adomah – had started relatively well, with the former Middlesbrough winger releasing Jonathan Kodija down the right in the opening stages.

But the £15m summer buy from Bristol City cut inside unnecessarily, which allowed former Villa defender Ciaran Clark to get a block in.

Before long, the Magpies – who responded to last weekend’s 2-0 home defeat against Wolves by beating the same opponents in the EFL Cup in midweek – seized command and ran Villa’s three-man backline ragged with their movement in the final third.

This was emphasised when Elphick, wary of Gayle lurking with intent behind him, diverted Yedlin’s centre beyond Pierluigi Gollini just before the half-hour mark.

The ex-Bournemouth centre-back almost gifted Newcastle a second straight away when dwelling on the ball but Gayle could not finish one-on-one against Gollini.

With the hosts all over the place, Nathan Baker then had to make a crucial intervention when a menacing Gayle bore down on goal before Diame fired waywardly over after Gollini blocked a Matt Ritchie effort.

The only edgy moment for a dominant Newcastle in the first period came when Jonjo Shelvey was fortunate to receive only a yellow card for leaping into a challenge on Ashley Westwood in a reckless manner.

Clearly concerned by the visitors’ superiority, di Matteo threw on former Reading midfielder Tshibola in place of Baker and switched to a back four at the break.

There wasn’t an immediate change in pattern, as Newcastle pushed for the insurance goal to kill off the hosts.

The influential Shelvey tested Gollini from range before intelligently setting up Diame, but the former West Ham and Hull midfielder couldn’t open his Magpies account, slicing a glorious chance wide from 12 yards.

DeAndre Yedlin prepares throw-in
Concern: DeAndre Yedlin may have given Rafa Benitez another problem after coming off with an injury in the second half (Picture from Sky Sports)

The visitors were given a warning about complacency when Mile Jedinak was left free to head in Ayew’s pinpoint free-kick but was flagged offside.

Villa, who sent on top scorer Rudy Gestede for Adomah, had firmly sprung into life and Ayew came within inches of a spectacular goal when his rasping right-footer from 20 yards clipped the post.

But the forward played his part when the resurgent hosts levelled up, as his well-flighted corner picked out Tshibola and the summer signing – who was correctly booked for diving minutes earlier – escaped Isaac Hayden’s attentions to head home from two yards.

Having been on top for so long, it was Newcastle hanging on for dear life during six minutes of stoppage time, as an impassive Benitez was left to reflect on his side’s failure to add to their slender advantage.

However, it could be a significant turning point for Villa, who themselves have struggled to see out positive results this term, after fighting back from the abyss to secure a draw they feel was merited in the end.

Aston Villa 1 (Tshibola 88′)
Newcastle United 1 (Elphick 28′ og)


Aston Villa XI
One alteration: Jack Grealish’s place was taken by Albert Adomah in the solitary change from last Saturday’s goalless draw at Ipswich (Picture from Sky Sports)

Substitutes:  Tshibola (on for Baker 45′), Gestede (on for Adomah 63′) and Hepburn-Murphy (on for Westwood 86′).
Not used:  Bunn (GK), Hutton, Richards, Cissokho.
Booked:  Chester (41′), Baker (44′), Tshibola (79′)


Newcastle United XI
Three changes: Yedlin made his first league start in place of the suspended Vurnon Anita, while Clark and Gouffran were restored at Chancel Mbemba and Ayoze Perez’s expense (Picture from Sky Sports)

Substitutes:  Tiote (on for Yedlin 75′) and Mitrovic (on for Gayle 80′).
Not used:  Darlow (GK), Hanley, Lazaar, Atsu, Perez.
Booked:  Shelvey (27′)


Chris Kavanagh with Nathan Baker
In control: Kavanagh kept the game flowing and didn’t rush to his pocket – he correctly booked Tshibola for diving but was lenient with Shelvey’s first-half challenge (Picture from Sky Sports)

Referee: Chris Kavanagh (Manchester) – 8/10
Assistant referees: Nick Greenhalgh & James Mainwaring (Lancashire)
Fourth official: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire)

Attendance: 32,062


Positive reaction: The former Chelsea and West Brom boss saw his side salvage a point to maintain their unbeaten home record so far this term (Picture from Sky Sports)

Aston Villa manager Roberto di Matteo:

“I said [at half-time] lets just put them under pressure and lets ask some questions. We changed the formation a little bit as well and managed to get more of a hold of the ball and created some real problems for Newcastle. I really thought that towards the end we would have the opportunity to win the game as well. We had plenty of chances and we got into very good positions. Just the last pass was missing, but there was somebody at the end of the last cross.”

Frustrated: Benitez will wonder how his side were unable to turn their first-half dominance into another victory (Picture from Sky Sports)

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez:

“Di Matteo will have another vision of the second-half, but the first-half we were so dominant that we could finish the game and then we would be sat here talking about another thing. But that is football, you have to take your chances. We had to defend better second-half, but you have to give credit to them. The positives for our team were in the first-half and the negatives were in the second as we allowed them to stay in the game.”

SkyBet Championship: Chris Kavanagh to referee Aston Villa v Newcastle

The Manchester whistler will take charge of his first big game of the season when the two former Premier League sides meet at Villa Park.

Positive signs: Kavanagh is making excellent progress, despite overseeing just 30 Championship games overall in this his third season in the Football League (Picture from Sky Sports)

CHRIS Kavanagh has been confirmed as the referee for Saturday’s crunch SkyBet Championship clash between Aston Villa and Newcastle United.

The Select Group 2 official will take charge at Villa Park for the televised evening kick-off between two sides relegated from the Premier League last season (KO 17:30 BST, live on Sky Sports).

It’s viewed by many as one of the key games of the season so far, with both teams expected to be challenging for automatic promotion.

Kavanagh will be assisted in the west Midlands by two Select Group 2 assistants Nick Greenhalgh and James Mainwaring, both from Lancashire, with Simon Hooper (Wiltshire) acting as fourth official.

Hooper hit the headlines earlier this month, when the referee himself at Villa Park, for sending off Nottingham Forest midfielder Hildeberto Pereira for a second yellow card for celebrating their late equaliser in the 2-2 draw too vociferously.

He also turned down two strong penalty appeals for handball for Newcastle in their 1-0 defeat at Fulham in the first Football League match of the season last month.

On the box: Kavanagh handled eight live TV games last season – six in the Championship, one in League One and one in the FA Cup (Picture from Sky Sports)

Meanwhile, Kavanagh will oversee his 10th game of the season – and sixth in the Championship, with the other four occurring in the EFL Cup.

Unusually, the Manchester-based whistler officiated two first-round matches after standing in for the injured Mark Haywood in Carlisle’s 2-1 win over Port Vale before handling Bristol Rovers’ surprise 1-0 victory against Cardiff two nights later – his only other TV appearance this term.

The 30-year-old, who is being considered for Premier League promotion, was fourth official for Bournemouth’s 1-0 top-flight win over West Brom earlier this month.

But he has been in the middle for Everton’s 4-0 EFL Cup second round victory against Yeovil and, in midweek, put in a solid display when Hull beat fellow top-flight side Stoke 2-1 in the third round.

It’s already been a busy start to the campaign for Lancashire-born Kavanagh, who lives in Ashton-under-Lyne.

This will be his 13th appointment as referee or fourth official of the season and his second trip to Villa Park after being on electronic board duties for their 3-0 win over Rotherham on August 13.

Kavanagh has brandished an average of three yellow cards per game so far but is yet to send off a player, and awarded his first penalty of the campaign last weekend in Norwich’s 2-1 win at Nottingham Forest.

Half of his 36 games came in the Championship last season, during a year in which he proved his ability to earn a place among the 18-strong group of professional officials primarily officiating in the second-tier.

In doing so, he left his day job as Manchester County FA’s Referee Development Manager – a role he had fulfilled for two and a half years.

Establishing his name: Kavanagh, who has been refereeing since 1998, has more than 50 Football League games under his belt (Picture from Sky Sports)

It could be a challenging contest to control for Kavanagh, who was only promoted to the Football League in 2014 but has been to Wembley as fourth official for the 2015 FA Vase Final.

His only other encounters with both sides were in last season’s League Cup – Newcastle’s 1-0 defeat at home to Sheffield Wednesday and Aston Villa’s 5-3 win after extra time against Notts County, whose angry boss Ricardo Moniz branded him ‘arrogant’ afterwards.

Kavanagh will also be in the Second City next midweek as fourth official for Birmingham’s match with Preston North End at St Andrew’s on Tuesday night.

There will also be a rare and exciting occurrence as two managers who have won the Champions League pit their wits against one another in the Championship – Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez won it with Liverpool in 2005 and Villa’s Roberto di Matteo clinched the trophy at Chelsea in 2o12.

Title favourites Newcastle’s run of five straight league wins was abruptly ended by last Saturday’s 2-0 home defeat by Wolves, while Villa sit 18th with one win, five draws and two losses from eight games so far.


Wigan Athletic v Manchester United - Pre-Season Friendly
Having a laugh: Langford (second right) shares a joke with Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho after their pre-season friendly with Wigan in July (Picture from Getty Images)

Oliver Langford will be in the middle for Friday night’s Lancashire derby between Preston North End and Wigan Athletic at Deepdale (KO 19:45 BST, live on Sky Sports).

The 36-year-old, from the West Midlands, will take charge of his sixth game of the season in all competitions – and fourth in the Championship.

He will be assisted by James Wilson (Cheshire) and Christopher Akers (south Yorkshire), with Stephen Martin (Staffordshire) on fourth official duties.

Select Group 2 referee Langford, who has been in the Football League since 2009, will also handle Brentford against Reading at Griffin Park next Tuesday in the second-tier.

Langford’s only other live TV match this term was on the opening weekend, when he awarded a second-half penalty to QPR in their 3-0 victory over Leeds at Loftus Road.

It was one of four spotkicks he has awarded so far while he has averaged three yellow cards per game but is yet to send a player off.

Langford only encountered Preston twice last term – in their goalless draw at Derby in February and 1-0 defeat at Middlesbrough in April, but was only in charge of Wigan’s 3-2 win at Peterborough in League One a year ago.

You can view a full list of SkyBet Football League match official appointments here.

SkyBet Championship: David Coote to referee Ipswich v Norwich

The West Yorkshire whistler will handle his first East Anglian derby, while Paul Tierney is in charge of Derby’s televised Midlands derby against Aston Villa.


David Coote awards free-kick (M'boro v Sheffield Weds - 28th Dec 2015)
Established: Coote has handled more than 150 matches during his six years as a Football League referee (Picture from Sky Sports)

REFEREE David Coote will take charge of his first East Anglian derby between Ipswich Town and Norwich City this weekend.

The 34-year-old will be the man in the middle when the Suffolk and Norfolk rivals meet on Sunday lunchtime at Portman Road in the SkyBet Championship (KO 12:00 BST, live on Sky Sports).

He will be ably assisted by new Select Group 2 assistant referees Nigel Lugg (Surrey) and Ian Cooper (Kent), while the fourth official is Oliver Langford – who will fulfil the same role for Nottingham Forest against Wigan on Saturday.

Coote – from Halifax in west Yorkshire – is one of 18 full-time referees forming the new Select Group 2 which will predominantly officiate in the Championship and help drive up standards across the English Football League.

He will handle his fourth game of the season and third in the EFL – all in the second-tier – having so far issued eight yellow cards, no reds and awarded one penalty.

Coote oversaw Leeds’ win over Fleetwood on penalties in the EFL Cup first round on August 10, Bristol City’s 2-1 win at Burton Albion three days later and Derby’s 1-0 victory over Preston at Deepdale on Tuesday night.

He will also be fourth official to Keith Stroud on Saturday for the Midlands derby between Birmingham and Wolves at St Andrews – his fourth appointment in that role this term.

Stroud himself was the referee for the previous East Anglian derby on Ipswich territory in the Championship almost two years ago to the day.


David Coote awards free-kick (Burnley v Birmingham - 15th August 2015)
Starring roles: Coote was fourth official for the Football League season opener on August 5, but will now oversee his first TV match as referee this term (Picture from Sky Sports)

Coote began refereeing in 1996 at the age of 14, when he spent two months as an assistant referee for his dad David and uncle Mick’s team in the Newark Alliance.

The cricket-loving whistler – originally from Winthorpe, near Newark in Nottinghamshire – made his journey through the Notts Alliance League, Northern Counties East Football League and Northern Premier League.

It eventually took him to the Select Group of assistant referees in 2009-10 after three years as a Football League linesman, which started at Stockport County’s Edgeley Park for a League Two game against Hereford.

He became a Football League referee in 2010 and has since forged a reputation as a reliable and lenient official across the three divisions.

Coote has since had five trips to Wembley as a match official – including the FA Vase and League One Play-Off Finals as referee in May 2014.

He also ran the line for the 2009 FA Vase Final when Whitley Bay beat Glossop North End 2-0, as well as the FA Trophy Final between Barrow and Stevenage a year later and being fifth official for Portsmouth’s 2-0 win over Tottenham in the 2010 FA Cup semi-finals.

Coote – who has ambitions to referee in the Premier League in future – left his role as Manchester FA’s County Development Manager last month after two years and two months.

Rarely the subject of criticism, he was in the spotlight last season after awarding a controversial penalty to Birmingham which proved decisive in their 1-0 Championship win against Cardiff.

Recent encounters

David Coote speaks to Jose Semedo (v M'boro - 28th Dec 2015)
Sporadic: Coote – whose father played professional cricketer for Nottinghamshire – only refereed 10 Championship games last season (Picture from Sky Sports)

Coote last encountered Ipswich in January for their 2-2 draw at home to League Two Portsmouth in the FA Cup third round at Portman Road.

But he has not overseen a Norwich game since their 4-2 win over Fulham in May 2015 – their final game of the regular league season when they were last in the Championship.

The Canaries then went on to face Ipswich in the play-off semi-finals – progressing 4-2 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw away and 3-1 win at Carrow Road.

With the ties refereed by Premier League referees Anthony Taylor and Roger East respectively, they were the last occasions the two fierce rivals locked horns.

Related articles:

Referee David Coote discusses the new Select Group 2:

Referee David Coote on swapping wickets for Wembley:

Men in Black – David Coote:


Paul Tierney in action (Southend v Burton - 22nd Feb 2016)
Seasoned campaigner: Tierney has refereed over 200 Football League matches since joining the National Group of referees in 2008 (Picture from Sky Sports)

Paul Tierney will be the referee for Saturday’s televised Midlands derby between Derby County and Aston Villa in the Championship.

The 36-year-old, from Lancashire, will take charge as the promotion-chasing Rams host their relegated neighbours at the iPro Stadium in the evening kick-off (KO 17:30 BST, live on Sky Sports).

The former hairdresser, from Wigan, was promoted to the Select Group of Premier League referees over the summer along with Stuart Attwell.

He has so far dished out six yellow cards and awarded one penalty in two games this term – Birmingham’s 2-1 win at Leeds in the Championship last Saturday and the 1-1 League Two draw between Hartlepool and Colchester on the opening weekend.

Tierney has officiated five Premier League games in total – with his first being Swansea’s 3-0 win over West Brom at the Liberty Stadium two years ago.

He will be assisted in the east Midlands by Select Group linesmen Mick McDonough and Matthew Wilkes, with Geoff Eltringham the fourth official.

Derby against Aston Villa was a Premier League fixture as recently as 2008, with both sides under new management this term in Nigel Pearson and Roberto di Matteo respectively.

You can see the rest of the weekend’s EFL match official appointments here.