Referees revealed for FA Cup third round weekend

The match officials have been announced for the 32 Emirates FA Cup third-round ties this weekend.

Bobby Madley will take charge of the standout tie at Anfield on Friday night, as the match official appointments for the Emirates FA Cup third round have been revealed.

The West Yorkshire whistler has come under fire for a number of high-profile errors this season, with former Premier League official Mark Halsey even suggesting he looks “overweight”.

But he will be in the middle for his second Merseyside derby when Liverpool and Everton kick off one of the biggest weekends in the football calendar in front of the BBC cameras.

His first taste of this fierce rivalry was also Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp’s maiden experience, as his side thrashed the Toffees 4-0 in April 2016 – a thumping Premier League win helped by the 50th minute dismissal of Everton defender Ramiro Funes Mori for a challenge on Divock Origi, which saw the striker stretchered off with an ankle injury.

Elsewhere, on Friday night, Kevin Friend will oversee his first game involving Manchester United this season as the Reds welcome Championship side Derby County to Old Trafford in their first home game of 2018.

It’s the first time United will not be screened live on TV in the UK in the competition in 58 matches stretching back to the first game of their defence of the trophy they won in 2004 – a surprise goalless home draw against non-league Exeter City.

Meanwhile, Andre Marriner – who oversaw United’s 2-0 win at Everton on his 47th birthday on New Year’s Day – will make history when taking charge of the first competitive game in England in which video replays will be used in the first live Video Assistant Referee (VAR) test.

The West Midlands official will be in the middle for Brighton’s televised all-Premier League tie with rivals Crystal Palace on Monday night – as he was when the sides played out a goalless draw at the Amex Stadium at the end of November, when he issued just two yellow cards.

Neil Swarbrick is the official who will be the first-ever VAR in a competitive fixture in English football and he will be assisted by Peter Kirkup at the final tie of the weekend, which is also being screened live on BT Sport.

Swarbrick himself will take charge of Saturday’s all-Premier League clash between Newcastle United and Swansea City at St James’s Park.

Meanwhile, Saturday’s televised ties will see Select Group 2 official Simon Hooper tasked with taking charge of Leicester City’s trip to League One Fleetwood in the lunchtime encounter on the BBC, while Stuart Attwell will be in the middle for Chelsea’s encounter at Championship side Norwich City in the evening encounter on BT Sport at Carrow Road.

Sunday’s four matches begin with Mike Dean in charge of Leeds United’s midday kick-off at League Two Newport County, live on BBC One Wales. The Wirral whistler was in the spotlight after awarding a controversial penalty for West Bromwich Albion in their draw with Arsenal last weekend – much to the anger of Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.

Lancashire whistler Paul Tierney will be at the helm as David Moyes’s West Ham face a tough test at New Meadow in front of a national audience on BBC One against a Shrewsbury side flying high in League One under Paul Hurst.

Highly-rated Select Group 2 official David Coote – who has been earmarked for potential promotion to the Premier League in the future – is back at Wembley, where he’s officiated on numerous occasions in the past, on Sunday as Premier League giants Tottenham entertain League One outfit AFC Wimbledon.

Then, finally on Sunday afternoon at 16:00 GMT, Jon Moss will take charge of Arsenal’s trip to managerless Championship side Nottingham Forest, which will be shown live on BT Sport 2.

Among the other highlights, Graham Scott will take charge of Manchester City’s clash with fellow Premier League side Burnley at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

The corresponding top-flight fixture back in October saw City awarded a controversial penalty by Roger East when Burnley keeper Nick Pope was adjudged to have fouled Bernardo Silva, which led to Sergio Aguero’s opening goal in the 3-0 win for Pep Guardiola’s side.

Scott has established himself as a regular choice in the Premier League this season – officiating 12 games so far, including City’s 2-0 win at Leicester in November in which he booked their captain Vincent Kompany for an early foul on Jamie Vardy which some pundits thought could have been a red card as the striker looked to have a clear run on goal.

Meanwhile, Manchester’s Chris Kavanagh is tasked with keeping the peace as the referee when Championship rivals Middlesbrough and Sunderland lock horns in a Tyne-Wear derby at the Riverside Stadium in a 13:00 GMT kick-off on Saturday.

Here’s a full list of the match officials who will be overseeing the 32 ties from Friday to Monday…


Friday 5 January

Liverpool v Everton (KO 19:55 GMT, live on BBC One)
Referee: Bobby Madley
Assistants: Marc Perry and Adrian Holmes
Fourth official: Jon Moss

Manchester United v Derby County (KO 20:00 GMT)
Referee: Kevin Friend
Assistants: Mick McDonough and Neil Davies
Fourth official: David Coote

Saturday 6 January

Fleetwood Town v Leicester City (KO 12:45 GMT, live on BBC One)
Referee: Simon Hooper
Assistants: Peter Kirkup and Lee Betts
Fourth official: Michael Salisbury

Middlesbrough v Sunderland (KO 13:00 GMT)
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
Assistants: Akil Howson and Wayne Grunnill
Fourth official: Carl Boyeson

Aston Villa v Peterborough United (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Robert Jones
Assistants: Philip Dermott and Steven Meredith
Fourth official: Peter Gibbons

Birmingham City v Burton Albion (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Jeremy Simpson
Assistants: Adam Crysell and John Flynn
Fourth official: Antony Coggins

Blackburn Rovers v Hull City (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Oliver Langford
Assistants: Mark Jones and Duncan Street
Fourth official: Tom Nield

Bolton Wanderers v Huddersfield Town (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Roger East
Assistants: Andy Halliday and Jonathan Hunt
Fourth official: Martin Coy

Bournemouth v Wigan Athletic (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Andy Madley
Assistants: Harry Lennard and Matt Foley
Fourth official: Charles Brakespear

Brentford v Notts County (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Tim Robinson
Assistants: Michael George and Darren Blunden
Fourth official: Craig Hicks

Cardiff City v Mansfield Town (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Lee Probert
Assistants: Rob Merchant and Craig Taylor
Fourth official: Robert Lewis

Carlisle United v Sheffield Wednesday (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: David Webb
Assistants: Barry Cropp and Barry Gordon
Fourth official: David Underwood

Coventry City v Stoke City (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Assistants: Matthew Wilkes and Nick Greenhalgh
Fourth official: Paul Tierney

Doncaster Rovers v Rochdale (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Andy Woolmer
Assistants: David Avent and Paul Hodskinson
Fourth official: Matthew Donohue

Exeter City v West Bromwich Albion (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Lee Mason
Assistants: Derek Eaton and Mark Russell
Fourth official: Brett Huxtable

Fulham v Southampton (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Michael Oliver
Assistants: Dan Robathan and Nick Hopton
Fourth official: Gavin Ward

Ipswich Town v Sheffield United (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Mike Jones
Assistants: Robert Hyde and Ian Cooper
Fourth official: Graham Horwood

Manchester City v Burnley (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Graham Scott
Assistants: Simon Bennett and Shaun Hudson
Fourth official: Andy Haines

Millwall v Barnsley (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Darren Bond
Assistants: Mark Pottage and Anthony Da Costa
Fourth official: John Busby

Newcastle United v Luton Town (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Neil Swarbrick
Assistants: Andy Garratt and Billy Smallwood
Fourth official: Darren Handley

Queens Park Rangers v Milton Keynes Dons (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: James Linington
Assistants: Mark Dwyer and Lee Venamore
Fourth official: Nick Kinseley

Stevenage v Reading (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Ben Toner
Assistants: Nigel Lugg and Mark Griffiths
Fourth official: Alan Dale

Watford v Bristol City (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Craig Pawson
Assistants: Stuart Burt and James Mainwaring
Fourth official: Mark Heywood

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Swansea City (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Assistants: Ian Hussin and Geoffrey Russell
Fourth official: Graham Salisbury

Wycombe Wanderers v Preston North End (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Peter Bankes
Assistants: Tim Wood and Callum Walchester
Fourth official: Chris O’Donnell

Yeovil Town v Bradford City (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: John Brooks
Assistants: Samuel Ogles and Matthew Lee
Fourth official: Adam Bromley

Norwich City v Chelsea (KO 17:30 GMT, live on BT Sport 2)
Referee: Stuart Attwell
Assistants: Simon Beck and Constantine Hatzidakis
Fourth official: Dean Whitestone

Sunday 7 January

Newport County v Leeds United (KO 12:00 GMT, live on BBC One Wales)
Referee: Mike Dean
Assistants: Simon Long and Dan Cook
Fourth official: Kevin Johnson

Shrewsbury Town v West Ham United (KO 14:00 GMT, live on BBC One)
Referee: Paul Tierney
Assistants: Steve Child and Mark Scholes
Fourth official: Bobby Madley

Tottenham Hotspur v AFC Wimbledon (KO 15:00 GMT)
Referee: David Coote
Assistants: Adam Nunn and Daniel Leach
Fourth official: Andre Marriner

Nottingham Forest v Arsenal (KO 16:00 GMT, live on BT Sport 2)
Referee: Jon Moss
Assistants: Sian Massey-Ellis and Eddie Smart
Fourth official: Kevin Friend

Monday 8 January

Brighton & Hove Albion v Crystal Palace (KO 19:45 GMT, live on BT Sport 2)
Referee: Andre Marriner
Assistants: Scott Ledger and Richard West
Fourth official: Graham Scott
VAR and Assistant VAR: Neil Swarbrick and Peter Kirkup

FA Cup: Match officials appointed for third round replays

Ben Toner and Graham Scott will take charge of the two televised games at Sincil Bank and Home Park with all nine ties to be settled in midweek.

Man in black: Graham Scott (middle) has been assigned to Liverpool’s televised replay at Plymouth on Wednesday as the sides drew 0-0 at Anfield in the original tie (Picture from Sky Sports)

The match officials have been announced for this week’s FA Cup third round replays.

There are nine ties to be decided in total, which will take place on Tuesday 17 and Wednesday 18 January.

Two have been selected for live television coverage.

Football League referee Ben Toner will be in the middle for National League side Lincoln City’s match against Championship outfit Ipswich Town at Sincil Bank on Tuesday evening, live on BBC One.

Meanwhile, Premier League official Graham Scott will take charge of League Two Plymouth’s replay against Premier League giants Liverpool at Home Park on Wednesday night, in front of the BT Sport cameras.

Here are the details in full…


AFC Wimbledon v Sutton United (KO 19:45 GMT)
Referee: Darren Drysdale (Lincolnshire)
Assistant referees: John Flynn (Oxfordshire) & Christopher Husband (Worcestershire)
Fourth official: John Busby (Oxfordshire)

Barnsley v Blackpool (KO 19:45 GMT)
Referee: Roger East (Wiltshire)
Assistant referees: Akil Howson (Leicestershire) & Wayne Grunnill (East Yorkshire)
Fourth official: Ross Joyce (Cleveland)

Burnley v Sunderland (KO 19:45 GMT)
Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire)
Assistant referees: Peter Kirkup (Northamptonshire) & Simon Bennett (Staffordshire)
Fourth official: Peter Bankes (Merseyside)

Lincoln City v Ipswich Town (KO 20:05 GMT, live on BBC One)
Referee: Ben Toner (Lancashire)
Assistant referees: Billy Smallwood (Cheshire) & Alix Pashley (Derbyshire)
Fourth official: Mark Haywood (West Yorkshire)

Fleetwood Town v Bristol City (KO 19:45 GMT)
Referee: Carl Boyeson (East Yorkshire)
Assistant referees: James Mainwaring (Lancashire) & Helen Byrne (Durham)
Fourth official: Seb Stockbridge (Tyne & Wear)

Crystal Palace v Bolton Wanderers (KO 20:00 GMT)
Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire)
Assistant referees: Dave Bryan (Lincolnshire) & Harry Lennard (East Sussex)
Fourth official: Oliver Langford (West Midlands)


Newcastle United v Birmingham City (KO 19:45 GMT)
Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire)
Assistant referees: Nick Hopton (Derbyshire) & James Bell (South Yorkshire)
Fourth official: David Webb (County Durham)

Plymouth Argyle v Liverpool (KO 19:45 GMT, live on BT Sport)
Referee: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire)
Assistant referees: Simon Beck (Bedfordshire) & Simon Long (Cornwall)
Fourth official: Andy Davies (Hampshire)

Southampton v Norwich City (KO 19:45 GMT)
Referee: Jon Moss (West Yorkshire)
Assistant referees: Sian Massey-Ellis (West Midlands) & Marc Perry (West Midlands)
Fourth official: James Linington (Isle of Wight)

You can see a full list of FA Cup fourth round fixtures here. 

FA Cup Final 2015: Jon Moss is the referee

Premier League referee Jon Moss (West Yorkshire) will take charge of the 2015 FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Aston Villa at Wembley on May 30.

Jon Moss (Derby v Chelsea CO Cup QF - 16th December 2014)
Mixed bag: Moss has often been described as error-prone but has convinced PGMOL with a series of solid displays (Picture from Sky Sports)

AN FA Cup Final is often the pinnacle of many a player’s professional career and the same undoubtedly applies to match officials.

It is a once-in-a-lifetime accolade for referees to walk out at the national stadium leading out the two teams for the showpiece event in the oldest cup competition in world football.

This year, the honour has been awarded to Jon Moss, who has been selected by the FA’s refereeing committee to be the man in the middle when Arsenal compete with Aston Villa at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, 30 May.

Unsurprisingly, the West Yorkshire whistler “cannot wait” for the game and said receiving the phone call was “the realisation of a dream”.

He told the Football Association’s website: “You dream about playing in a Final as a boy but I’ve dreamed about refereeing as I got older. Referees are no different to players and you strive always to get those massive games.”

Moss will be assisted for the final by linesmen Darren England (South Yorkshire) and Simon Bennett (Staffordshire).

Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire) – who was also the fourth official for the Capital One Cup Final last month – will be in control of electronic board duties while Harry Lennard (West Sussex) will act as the reserve assistant.

44-year-old Moss has officiated two Arsenal games and two Villa games in the Premier League this season – and both teams are undefeated when he has been in charge.

He oversaw Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace on the opening weekend and their 3-0 win over Stoke City in January – both at the Emirates Stadium – as well as Aston Villa’s goalless draw at West Ham in November and their 2-1 Midlands derby win over West Brom last month.

Jon Moss watches on (Chelsea v Stoke - 4th April 2015)
100% record: Moss has taken charge of nine Premier League games involving Arsenal – and the Gunners have won all nine (Picture from Sky Sports)

The prestigious appointment comes on the back of a number of consistent and impressive displays in the top-flight this season.

Only Martin Atkinson has taken charge of more Premier League games in 2014-15 so far than the 26 overseen by Moss – beating his previous highest in a single season of 22.

The West Riding official, who has issued more red cards (seven) than any other Select Group referee, has only overseen five other games – three FA Cup ties, a Capital One Cup quarter-final and one Championship match.

Overall, he has issued 110 yellow cards, sent off eight players and awarded seven penalties.

This season, Moss has already attracted criticism and been involved in controversy.

He put in an inconsistent display in Chelsea’s 6-3 win at Everton in August, awarded four penalties in Manchester City’s 4-1 victory over Spurs and gave Aston Villa a dubious spotkick in the final minute against West Brom as well as failing to spot Alan Hutton’s high challenge on Saido Berahino.

The Sunderland-born whistler has also been the fourth official for several key clashes including Chelsea’s draw with Manchester City in February and the Manchester derby at Old Trafford earlier this month.

Moss – who began refereeing at the age of 18 – was only promoted from the Football League for the 2011-12 season along with Neil Swarbrick after six years on the National List with his first game being Birmingham’s 2-1 win at Blackpool in January 2011.

He has since established himself to the surroundings and expectations of a professional Premier League referee and is close to reaching the 100-game landmark.

Father-of-four Moss – who is a former headteacher and continues to teach as an executive head at Beech Hill School in Halifax – has been involved in several high-profile finals in the past in a different capacity.

He was the man in the middle for the 2005 Conference Play-Off Final as Carlisle beat Stevenage 1-0 at Stoke’s Britannia Stadium and was the fourth official for last season’s Championship Play-Off Final and the 2014 Community Shield at Wembley.

Jon Moss (West Yorkshire) Man City vs West Ham CO Cup 8th Jan 2014
Semi showdown: Moss was also in the middle for a Capital One Cup semi-final second leg in 2013-14 (Picture from Sky Sports)

The FA Cup Final is normally awarded to top-flight referees who are at the peak of their officiating careers and – although Moss would fall into this category – he was still a surprise choice with Mark Clattenburg widely predicted to receive the call-up.

The selection process was branded “a joke” by former Premier League official Mark Halsey, who incidentally never received an FA Cup Final appointment in his 14-year stay in the top-flight.

“Greg Dyke has got to take a look at the appointment process for the FA Cup referee because, frankly, it’s become a joke,” the 53-year-old told Kicca.

“I don’t blame Jon Moss, the man who will take charge at Wembley, it’s not his fault. But is he the best man for the job? Absolutely not.

“It’s quite clear Mark Clattenburg should be in charge. He’s consistently our outstanding referee who time and time again proves himself on the biggest stage. Look at the job he did in the Champions League match between PSG and Barcelona recently, he won major plaudits for his performance – and rightly so.

“Seriously, Jon Moss at Wembley? I can’t be having that. He’s made too many high profile mistakes this season already. Even last weekend he missed two blatant penalties, one for Palace and one for West Brom.”

Moss’s appointment has certainly been a talking point among supporters and officiating circles.

One serving referee said on forum Rate The Ref: “Personally I would say that he [Moss] struggles to get in the top half of the merit table in the SG so how does he land what used to be regarded as the most prestigious appointment in our domestic game?”

Another suggested: “Perhaps the most ridiculous appointment in the history of football? Ludicrous.”

Last season, Wiltshire’s Lee Probert was selected to oversee the 133rd FA Cup Final as Arsenal came from two goals down to beat fellow Premier League side Hull City 3-2 in extra-time.



Last 10 FA Cup Final referees as of 2015

Arsene Wenger’s team will seek to defend the trophy and could move above Manchester United in the record list for winning the competition 12 times after seeing off Championship side Reading in the semi-finals.

Aston Villa came from behind to beat Liverpool as the Midlands club bid to win the FA Cup for the first time since 1957 under Tim Sherwood, who replaced the sacked Paul Lambert in March.

FA Cup Quarter-Finals: The match officials

Capital One Cup Final referee Anthony Taylor is among the Premier League officials selected to take charge of this weekend’s FA Cup Quarter-Finals.

Anthony Taylor referee
In the middle: Taylor has been a full-time Premier League referee since the start of the 2010/11 season

CAPITAL One Cup Final referee Anthony Taylor is among the Premier League officials selected to take charge of this weekend’s FA Cup Quarter-Finals.

Taylor – in the middle for Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Tottenham last weekend at Wembley – will oversee the Midlands derby between Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion.

Lee Mason has been appointed to League One Bradford’s home tie with Championship strugglers Reading on Saturday lunchtime while Andre Marriner will take control of Liverpool’s clash with second-tier Blackburn at Anfield on Sunday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Monday night’s eagerly-anticipated showdown between heavyweights Manchester United and Arsenal will be officiated by Michael Oliver.

West Midlands official Marriner and Northumberland whistler Oliver were also selected for the FA Cup semi-finals last season at Wembley.

Michael Oliver referee (Stoke v Man Utd - 1st January 2015)
Back to business: Oliver – who recently turned 30 – has not officiated a game since February 10 having been on holiday in New York

Oliver – who refereed Arsenal’s victory over Wigan on penalties – will be in charge of his second clash involving the two sides after United’s 1-0 Premier League win over Arsenal in December 2013.

He will be assisted at Old Trafford by fellow Fifa officials with Gary Beswick and Jake Collin running the line and Craig Pawson the fourth official.

Both teams have won the FA Cup 11 times and are fighting to finish in the Premier League’s top four this term with Arsenal the current holders after beating Hull City 3-2 in last season’s final.

Marriner will oversee his fourth Liverpool match of the campaign while it will be his third visit to Anfield, the most recent being the Reds’ 2-0 win over West Ham on January 31.

The Sheldon-based referee, who has only issued one red card in his 24 matches this term, will have Lee Betts and Mick McDonough as linesmen and Robert Madley as the fourth official on Sunday.

Andre Marriner with assistants (Dover v C Palace FA Cup - 4th Jan 2015)
Left out: Only two of the 17 current Select Group referees have overseen fewer Premier League games this season than Marriner (12)

Taylor, on the other hand, has sent off four players since the turn of the year but enjoyed a quiet afternoon in his first major final last weekend with only five yellow cards brandished.

The Cheshire-based whistler has not encountered West Brom since September and oversaw Villa’s 5-0 thrashing at Arsenal last month.

Recently-retired Fifa linesman Darren Cann and Conference referee Darren England will join him at Villa Park and Neil Swarbrick has been assigned to electronic board duties.

It will be the second meeting of Tim Sherwood’s Villa and Tony Pulis’s Albion in the space of four days after their scheduled Premier League encounter on Tuesday night.

Lancashire’s Mason will take charge at Valley Parade as Bradford seek to follow on from knocking out top-flight sides Chelsea and Sunderland in the previous two rounds.

The Bantams supporters have been having their say on the appointment.

Lee Mason looks on (FA Cup 4th round Bristol City v West Ham - 25th Jan 2015)
Familiar face: Mason has overseen two other FA Cup ties this term – Leicester’s 1-0 win over Newcastle and West Ham’s 1-0 win at Bristol City

The Bolton whistler has officiated 22 games in all competitions so far in 2014-15, dishing out 75 yellows, five reds and awarding eight penalties.

The linesmen are Mike Mullarkey and Marc Perry while fellow Select Group referee Mike Jones will be the fourth official.

Referees Martin Atkinson, Roger East and Kevin Friend – who were expected to be involved in some capacity but for high-profile errors of late – have been overlooked.

The chosen ones Marriner, Mason, Taylor and Oliver will all still be in contention to be in charge of the May 30 final although currently leading the list of favourites is Mark Clattenburg.

All four last-eight matches will be televised by either BBC Sport or BT Sport, who will screen Bradford v Reading live to non-BT subscribers free both online and on Freeview TV.

FA Cup Quarter-Final Match Official Appointments (March 2015)

Phil Dowd to ref United’s FA Cup tie at Preston

PHIL Dowd has been appointed as the referee for Manchester United’s FA Cup fifth round tie with Preston North End at Deepdale next Monday night.

Phil Dowd referee (Tottenham v Chelsea - 1st Jan 2015)

PHIL Dowd has been appointed as the referee for Manchester United’s FA Cup fifth round tie with Preston North End at Deepdale next Monday night.

The 52-year-old – who is likely to retire at the end of his 15th season at the highest level – will take charge as the Premier League’s fourth-placed team travels to the fourth-placed side in League One in the final clash of the extended weekend.

He will be assisted by linesmen Dave Bryan and Mike Mullarkey while Football League referee David Webb will act as the fourth official.

Dowd will first be in control of Liverpool against Tottenham in the Premier League on Tuesday night at Anfield having also handled the reverse fixture at White Hart Lane back in August.

Prior to that match, he has officiated 22 games in all competitions so far this season – brandishing 95 yellow cards, sending off four players and awarding five penalties.

The Staffordshire-based whistler has not officiated Preston since September 2009 in a 5-1 Carling Cup defeat at home to Tottenham.

But he has overseen three of United’s Premier League games at Old Trafford this season against Queens Park Rangers, Chelsea and – most recently on January 11 – Southampton.

Only Martin Atkinson (83) has dished out more bookings than Dowd (82) in the top-flight this term among the 17 regular Select Group officials.

He has largely stayed out of the spotlight this season with a series of largely consistent displays in comparison to last term – which ended with six red cards in his last eight Premier League games.



Dowd has completed the full set of high-profile domestic matches having taken charge of the 2010 League Cup Final and 2011 Community Shield – both involving Manchester United, the 2011 Championship Play-Off Final and the 2012 FA Cup Final all at Wembley.

He has been refereeing since 1984 and was promoted to the Football League assistant referees list in 1992 before joining the National List of referees five years later.

In 2001, Dowd was elevated to Premier League level with his first match coming in December that year – and he has since officiated over 300 games in the division.

Dowd – the joint most experienced Select Group referee alongside Chris Foy – is renowned for being fussy and card happy, dishing out 10 bookings in a match between Swansea and Arsenal back in November.

He is also often the subject of taunts from football fans for his waistline with Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho also launching an astonishing tirade against Dowd in which he claimed he was too fat to referee after the Blues’ 5-3 defeat at Tottenham on New Year’s Day.

After a seven-game winless run in all competitions, Simon Grayson’s Preston have won their last two games – including their FA Cup fourth round replay at Sheffield United – ahead of Tuesday night’s League One match at Chesterfield.

United have already overcome Football League opponents in Yeovil and Cambridge in this season’s competition but Louis van Gaal’s team have only won two of their last seven away games.

Lee Probert selected as referee for 2014 FA Cup Final

Lee Probert has been selected to referee the 2014 FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Hull City on May 17, the Football Association has announced.

Lee Probert pulls out yellow card (Hull v Man Utd - 24th May 2015)
Whistler: Probert will be in charge of his first major final when Arsenal meet Hull in the all-Premier League showpiece (Picture from Sky Sports)

LEE Probert will take charge of the 2014 FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Hull City at Wembley Stadium next month.

Probert will complete a hat-trick of appearances at the national stadium after previously refereeing the 2010 FA Trophy Final and was fourth official for the 2011 FA Cup Final between Manchester City and Stoke City.

The 41-year-old, born in Gloucestershire but based in Wiltshire, will be joined by linesmen Jake Collin (Liverpool) and Mick McDonough (Tyne & Wear).

Kevin Friend (Leicestershire) will be the fourth official and Simon Bennett (Staffordshire) the reserve assistant referee on Saturday, May 17 – a week after the Premier League season ends.

With referees only allowed to take charge of the FA Cup Final once in their careers, the appointment is a great honour for Probert.

He said: “To be given the opportunity to walk out as the referee for an FA Cup final is the highest accolade in English football. It’s a massive honour and I am absolutely delighted.

“It still hasn’t really sunk in to be honest. When I got the phone call, I have to say I did shed a tear and look to the sky.

“The first person I thought about was my dad, who I lost six years ago. He was always there to support me throughout my career and it’s payback for all his hard work, taking me here, there and everywhere, encouraging me to never give up.

“When I walk out on 17 May, I know he’ll be chuffed to bits.”

Probert’s early career saw him progress through to the Conference South before making the step up to the Football League in 1998.

He has been part of the Select Group of referees since 2007 and in 2010 became a FIFA-listed referee, making him eligible to officiate UEFA Internationals and matches in the Champions League and Europa League.

The official has overseen 27 domestic games so far this term, brandishing 48 yellow cards and five reds while awarding six penalties.

He took charge of Hull’s fifth round tie away at Brighton, booking Robert Koren and Sone Aluko in one of three FA Cup appointments in 2013-14.

Probert had to apologise to Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger after advising Mike Dean to send off the Frenchman at Old Trafford in August 2009 but the Gunners are unbeaten in the last five games he has refereed, including three wins and a draw this term.

In contrast, Hull have not won any of their last six matches with Probert in the middle, stretching back to 2009.

Kevin Small, Referee Development Officer at the Wiltshire FA, said: “We are very proud that Lee is a Wiltshire referee and regularly use his achievements in the Premier League or as a FIFA referee to inspire our younger referees to aim high in their careers.

“We are delighted with the news that Lee has been selected to referee this season’s FA Cup Final. It’s a great honour for him and for our county and he becomes only the second Wiltshire official to be picked to referee The Final, the first being Bill Russell in 1924.

“We hope Lee has a great game and enjoys his day at Wembley.”

The Gunners face the Tigers with kick-off at 17:00 BST and live coverage broadcast on both ITV and BT Sport.

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Wigan at Wembley: Arsene Wenger’s future on the line

The immediate future will look increasingly bleaker for Arsene Wenger if Arsenal fail to beat Wigan at Wembley.

End of an era: Wenger's position could become under scrutiny if Arsenal do not get the better of the Latics
End of an era: Wenger’s position could become under scrutiny if Arsenal do not get the better of the Latics

IT HAS been apparent for some time that Arsene Wenger is a man under severe pressure.

The Arsenal manager departed Goodison Park last Sunday in the same dejected manner that he has left Anfield, Stamford Bridge, Old Trafford and the Etihad Stadium this season.

The outlook couldn’t have been rosier for the Gunners on New Year’s Day. Top of the Premier League table with an entire month to mull over the transfer market and a Champions League showdown with Bayern Munich to look forward to.

Three months on and that oh so familiar feeling is brewing as another ultimately bleak campaign peters towards the finishing line.

But going nine years without a trophy in the cabinet and the unthinkable prospect of being absent from Europe’s top table next season, enough may be enough.

The extent of the turmoil that has resurfaced on numerous occasions this term was highlighted in the “back to basics” punchline that Wenger has repeatedly ushered in the build-up to this weekend’s pivotal Wembley showdown.

With a contract beyond this season yet to be agreed, Wenger’s days in the Emirates hotseat appear to be numbered – if the newspaper speculation is anything to go by.

Unless his unquestionable wisdom can conjure a solution to the elusive silverware drought in the not too distant future.

The FA Cup presents the salvation opportunity that Wenger desperately needs to regain the faith of the Arsenal supporters that looked on in disbelief during the crushing defeat at Everton, which emanated the first serious doubts that a top-four finish is beyond their reach.

A semi-final against a Championship side in front of a near 80,000 crowd at Wembley (and a multi-million audience on terrestrial TV) may just be the tonic to restore confidence that has been shattered on too many occasions since the turn of the year.

Either Hull, mid-table in the top-flight, or Sheffield United, perched below the League One play-offs, will lie in wait for the winners.

The scenario could hardly be better for the Gunners, whose season hinges on winning the competition which last brought them success back in 2005.

But as Birmingham demonstrated on that momentous February afternoon in 2011, almighty shocks can happen. And they can be damaging.

Wenger has stated the best way to beat Wigan – a side playing Premier League football just 12 months ago – is to “show them respect” and on reflection, you can understand why.

Those who witnessed their remarkable display at the Etihad Stadium in the quarter-finals would argue a Latics victory in the last four would barely represent a surprise scalp. They are the holders of the trophy after all.

Manchester City, Cardiff and Crystal Palace have already been seen off in this incredible repeat journey for the Lancashire side. Arsenal are next in the firing line. Uwe Rosler can smell more Premier League blood.

The promotion-chasing Latics have bigger items on the agenda in the form of a flourishing play-off push to sustain but a shot at more cup glory is too good to pass up.

After a dodgy start to a marathon campaign which has taken them from the outskirts of Slovenia to the heart of East Anglia, the momentum has gathered soaring pace at just the right time.

In contrast, Arsenal’s worrying downward spiral has come at precisely the wrong time.

Injuries to Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Laurent Koscielny and Lukas Podolski have contributed. The impact of their loss has been sorely felt on a squad that lacks the depth of Chelsea’s and Manchester City’s.

The latest abject display devoid of any composure, quality and desire whilst tarnished by defensive calamity illustrated that.

It raised another series of questions and left Everton just a solitary point behind them in fifth, with a game in hand at home to Crystal Palace.

It fell way below the standards that the Gunners have set this term and come to expect of themselves, Wenger was first to admit.

The tight battle, with Spurs still in with a shout, should go down to the wire with five games to go. In the context of scraping any remote success from the past nine months, there’s only one match that counts for the Arsenal.

As the season reaches its tail end, the protocol of players and managers fighting for their lives is normal. Now, even one of the most experienced men in the game is feeling the heat.

Wenger has nobly served the north London club for 17 years, steering them to regular honours in his first years.

He is owed a strong performance and an emphatic response from the squad that he assembled to challenge at the highest level but have fallen considerably short.

When Arsenal have been asked a major question this term, they have invariably fallen apart. Wigan will be fully aware of the woe they could inflict as the intense pressure piles up on a beleaguered 64-year-old.

With the axe seemingly hanging above his head, Wenger is a dead man walking and can ill-afford a defeat of any description on Saturday.

The intelligent Frenchman has been interrogated, criticised and praised to the high heavens during a season of significant highs and unprecedented lows.

You rarely slip under the radar when managing such a huge club steeped in illustrious history and when Wenger steps out onto the Wembley terraces, he knows the outcome of the next 90 minutes or more could determine his immediate future.

Pipping the Toffees to the final Champions League qualification spot and lifting a cup that doesn’t contain any beverage might just save his skin.

But should Arsenal fail to book a return to the national stadium on May 17 and be consigned to the Europa League, the repercussions for Britain’s current longest-serving manager could be fatal.

It’s last chance saloon, do or die.


Arsene Wenger Image by Paul Blank via Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic License