SkyBet Championship: Bobby Madley to referee Brighton v Newcastle

The Premier League referee will take charge of the crucial top-of-the-table battle at the AMEX Stadium between two sides destined for the top-flight.

In the middle: Madley took charge of the first Premier League game of 2017 in a goalless draw between Middlesbrough and Leicester at the Riverside (Picture from Sky Sports)

A Premier League referee will take charge of the crucial SkyBet Championship clash between leaders Brighton and second-placed Newcastle United.

Bobby Madley has been appointed to keep the peace as the two hot favourites for promotion do battle at the AMEX Stadium in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Tuesday night (KO 19:45 GMT).

The 31-year-old will be assisted on the south coast by Select Group linesmen Marc Perry (west Midlands) and Adrian Holmes (west Yorkshire), while Lee Probert (Wiltshire) is the fourth official.

Madley – who hails from west Yorkshire – will take charge of his 28th game of the campaign in all competitions.

Overall, he has so far brandished a massive 119 yellow cards, sent off four players in four different competitions and awarded eight penalties (seven in the Premier League).

It will be Madley’s first Championship game of the season and he has only ventured down into the Football League once before.

He was criticised by Scunthorpe United boss Graham Alexander for his display in the League One leaders’ 3-1 defeat at Southend United earlier this month and dismissing midfielder Neal Bishop for perceived violent conduct late on at Roots Hall.

Bobby Madley referee (Hull v Sheffield Weds - 28th May 2016)
Honour: Madley was a surprise choice as he became the youngest referee to handle a Championship Play-Off Final last season (Picture from Sky Sports)

The Ossett-born whistler, who joined the Fifa list of international referees last year, was only in the middle for two Championship games but one was another pivotal encounter for Brighton which proved decisive in the promotion battle.

On his last visit to the AMEX, Madley oversaw the Seagulls’ 1-1 draw with Derby County in their penultimate league game in May last year, sending off Brighton defender Lewis Dunk for a second bookable offence late on before James Wilson’s late equaliser for the hosts.

Just five days later, he oversaw his last match involving Newcastle, which was a difficult one for him to contend with in a goalless draw at already-relegated Aston Villa as beach balls were thrown onto the pitch in protest by the home fans at Villa Park.

However, he will still be remembered by most Magpies fans from last season’s Wear-Tyne derby against Sunderland for the controversial dismissal of Fabricio Coloccini which led to a penalty and subsequently turned the game in favour of the Black Cats, who ran out 3-0 winners at the Stadium of Light.

Last May, Madley also handled his first game at Wembley as a referee and put in a solid performance in the Championship Play-Off Final as Hull City earned promotion with a 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday, with the appointment coming despite his Yorkshire connections.

It was his second trip to the national stadium last term having been fourth official to Michael Oliver for the League Cup final between Liverpool and Manchester City, capping a consistent and excellent season for him.

Recent: Madley’s last encounter with a Championship side was earlier this month in Fulham’s 3-0 FA Cup defeat at home to London rivals Tottenham (Picture from BBC Sport)

The Wakefield-born official has established himself as one of the better referees in the Select Group in the last two seasons and will no doubt benefit from the departure of Mark Clattenburg at the end of the season with more regular high-profile matches.

Madley’s most recent game was at Selhurst Park on Saturday for Crystal Palace’s 1-0 win over Middlesbrough in the Premier League, in which he somehow booked James McArthur for diving rather than award Palace a penalty when the midfielder was fouled by Stewart Downing in the box.

He only joined the National List of referees in 2010 but has made plenty of progress since.

Madley sent off three players on his Premier League debut when West Brom beat Southampton 3-0 at St Mary’s in April 2013 before being promoted to the Select Group of referees for the 2013-14 campaign.

He is the younger brother of Select Group 2 referee Andy, who endured a busy weekend after being fourth official for Wolves against Birmingham at Molineux on Friday night and sending off Aston Villa’s Leandro Bacuna for pushing a linesman in their 1-0 win over Derby County on Saturday.

Bobby Madley speaks to Yaya Toure (v Everton CO Cup SF 1st leg - 6th Jan 2016)
In control: Madley has shown he can remain calm under pressure, overseeing a League Cup semi-final and a Merseyside derby last season without difficulty (Picture from Sky Sports)

Huddersfield Town fan Bobby has previously handled seven Brighton games stretching back to 2012, all in the Championship, while he has controlled six matches involving Newcastle – four in the Premier League and two in the League Cup.

A referee since 2001, Madley’s experience of the Football League will be required in what is likely to be a fiery and tense occasion under the floodlights on the south coast for the standout game of the midweek fixtures on Tuesday night, with the pressure high on both teams to deliver a positive result.

Newcastle had the edge when the sides met back in August at St James’s Park, with goals from captain Jamaal Lascelles and Jonjo Shelvey securing a 2-0 win over 10-man Brighton.

The vastly-experienced former Premier League official Keith Stroud was in charge and issued six yellows as well as dismissing Sam Baldock for a second bookable offence for a challenge on Newcastle keeper Matz Sels.

Brighton, managed by former Magpies boss Chris Hughton, went top of the Championship on Saturday after a 3-0 win over promotion rivals Reading in the evening kick-off, following Newcastle’s 2-2 draw at home to struggling Bristol City.

Rafael Benitez’s men came from two goals down to earn the point which keeps them one point behind leaders Brighton with 13 games remaining.

Meanwhile, after the game at the AMEX, Madley will be back in Premier League action at the weekend after being appointed to Saturday’s evening showdown between heavyweights Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield.

SkyBet League One: Tony Harrington to referee Peterborough v Bury

Select Group 2 referee Tony Harrington will be in the middle for Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off at the ABAX Stadium, before Darren Deadman and Seb Stocksbridge take charge of Sunday’s two televised League One games.

  •  Harrington’s first League One game of season
  •  Hartlepool-based referee’s second TV game of campaign
  •  Premier League refs Swarbrick, Friend & Probert in action
  •  Deadman in charge of Oxford United v Wimbledon
  •  Stockbridge to referee MK Dons v Port Vale  
Third-tier: Harrington was in the middle for eight League One matches last season (Picture from Sky Sports)

REFEREE Tony Harrington has been confirmed to take charge of Peterborough’s SkyBet League One clash with Bury this weekend.  

The 38-year-old, from Cleveland, will be in the middle for the first of only six third-tier games on Saturday, between two sides expected to compete for promotion, in the lunchtime kick-off at the ABAX Stadium (KO 12:15 BST, live on Sky Sports).

It’s one of three televised matches in League One this weekend, as the lower two divisions of the Football League take centre stage during the second international break of the season.

He will be assisted by Select Group 2 linesman Daniel Leach (Oxfordshire) and Daniel Cook (Hampshire) of the Select Group, with Oliver Langford (west Midlands) the fourth official.

Harrington has handled eight games in all competitions this season – issuing an average of five yellow cards per match.

His one red card and two penalties came in Birmingham’s dramatic 1-0 victory at Fulham on September 10.

It will be the first time Harrington – who is one of 18 Select Group 2 referees who primarily officiate in the Championship – drops below the second tier so far this term.

The Hartlepool-based whistler has also officiated two EFL Cup matches – the second of which he was criticised for failing to act on a horrendous challenge by Accrington’s Shay McCartan on Burnley’s Aiden O’Neill.

Clarets boss Sean Dyche said afterwards he was “amazed” a red card wasn’t shown as his Premier League side lost 1-0 to their League Two neighbours in the second round in August.

Harrington encountered Bury three times last season – in their 2-1 JPT win at Accrington last September, a 2-1 defeat at home to Scunthorpe last November when he gave the Iron a first-half spotkick at Gigg Lane, and a 3-0 loss at Rochdale in March.

Roles: Harrington – in his fifth season as a Football League referee – has been fourth official for five games so far this term (Picture from Sky Sports)

In January 2015, Harrington sent a crazy – and hilarious – note to the FA to explain why he postponed Bury’s League Two match at Accrington when the pitch at the Wham Stadium had completely flooded.

Meanwhile, his only Peterborough game in 2015-16 was their 2-0 victory over Championship side Preston at the ABAX Stadium in January in the FA Cup third round.

It’s not the first time Harrington has handled a Posh game live on TV – after their FA Cup second round replay against Colchester in 2014.

He began refereeing in the Teesside Junior Football Alliance at the age of 14, having completed the basic referee course whilst at school as part of the Duke of Edinburgh award.

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

In his debut campaign, he hit the headlines for sending off players in five of six consecutive games but has since established himself to referee more than 100 Football League matches.

Harrington has also helped to run Durham County FA’s Referee Academy with fellow Football League referee Geoff Eltringham.

13th-placed Peterborough are looking to end a run of six league games without a win against a Bury side in third, who were denied a sixth successive league victory last weekend after a 2-1 home loss against leaders Scunthorpe.


Experienced: (left to right) Swarbrick, Friend and Probert have handled over 200 Premier League games between them and appeared at Wembley for major cup finals (Pictures from Sky Sports)

Premier League referees Neil Swarbrick, Kevin Friend and Lee Probert will also be in the middle on Saturday.

Swarbrick, 50, from Lancashire, will take charge of Bolton Wanderers’ League One trip to Swindon Town.

Leicestershire’s Friend, 45, has been assigned to Morecambe’s League Two encounter with Carlisle United.

And Wiltshire whistler Lee Probert, 44, will continue his rehabilitation after long-term injury in the fourth tier with Yeovil Town against Wycombe Wanderers at Huish Park.

Preston-based Swarbrick has already handled Burton Albion’s 3-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship and Sheffield United’s 1-0 victory against Peterborough in League One this season.

It will be the second time Friend drops down to the Football League this term after handling Wednesday’s 2-1 Championship win over Nottingham Forest last month.

Probert, originally from Gloucestershire, is yet to make his Premier League comeback following his lengthy spell on the sidelines but will oversee his ninth Football League game of the season.


during the Sky Bet Championship match between Nottingham Forest and Fulham at the City Ground on September 17, 2014 in Nottingham, England.
Strict disciplinarian: Deadman, who is also a civil servant, is widely known to issue cards but once said he feels he is “firm but fair” in his approach

Darren Deadman will be in the middle for Sunday’s televised lunchtime kick-off between Oxford United and AFC Wimbledon.

The Cambridge-based whistler will make the decisions as the two promoted teams do battle in League One at the Kassam Stadium (KO 12:15 BST, live on Sky Sports).

He will be ably assisted by Andrew Aylott and Lisa Rashid, while the fourth official is Ollie Yates (Staffordshire).

Deadman has brandished 42 yellow cards, one red card and pointed to the spot just once so far in 10 games in all competitions this season.

His solitary penalty and sending off came in one of his previous five League One games – in leaders Scunthorpe’s 2-2 draw against Sheffield United at Glanford Park last month.

Deadman, who is one for applying the letter of the law, left Blades boss Chris Wilder less than impressed with the dismissal of midfielder Chris Basham, which he described as “ridiculous”.

The public transport officer, from Chatteris near Peterborough, is one of the more experienced officials in the Football League but is also seen as among the most card-happy.

A permanent fixture among the National List of referees since 2005, he has been touted for Premier League promotion in the past but has fallen down the pecking order and was overlooked for a place in the newly-formed Select Group 2 in the summer.

The 43-year-old, who is married with two daughters, handled Stevenage’s 1-0 win over Torquay United in the 2011 League Two Play-Off Final at Manchester United’s Old Trafford.

Deadman – who has been fourth official for many Premier League games – now finds himself a regular in the third and fourth tiers but has become more lenient in his approach, which is reflected in his reduced card count.

One of his 37 matches in all competitions last term – which included Barnsley’s 3-1 win at Walsall in the League One play-off semi-final second leg – was Wimbledon’s 1-0 loss at Hartlepool in League Two in March.

His last Oxford game was also in the fourth tier – in a goalless draw against Portsmouth at Fratton Park in February 2015.

Later on Sunday afternoon, Seb Stockbridge will take charge of his first live TV game in the Football League when MK Dons host Port Vale in League One.

The Sunderland-based official has been assigned to the Stadium MK clash as Karl Robinson’s promotion challengers host the Staffordshire side in front of the Sky cameras (KO 14:15 BST).

The Penshaw whistler – who is in his fourth season as a Football League referee after gaining promotion in 2013 – is normally found in the lower two tiers, having only received four Championship matches to date.

Stockbridge will officiate his 13th game of the season in all competitions – having brandished 51 yellow cards, sent off three players and awarded five penalties so far.

It will be the sixth time he steps out in the middle for a League One match already in 2016-17.

Stockbridge was in charge of Vale’s away league wins in Lancashire last term – at Fleetwood in September and Blackpool in January.

They were two of 30 matches he handled in all competitions last season.

He has not encountered MK Dons since an incident-free 1-1 draw at Walsall in the third tier in March 2015.

Stockbridge became interested in refereeing in 1998 after watching a Channel 5 programme about three people becoming match officials.

He will be assisted by Craig Taylor and Ashvin Degnarain, with Devon’s Brett Huxtable on fourth official duties.

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

Football League: Simon Hooper to referee Fulham v Newcastle opener

Simon Hooper will referee Friday’s 2016-17 Championship opener, while three officials make their Football League debuts and Lee Probert returns to action.

Simon Hooper and Ben Mee (Burnley v Brighton - 22nd Nov 2015)
On the box: Hooper handled six Championship games on TV last season, as well as one in League One and another in the League Cup (Picture from Sky Sports)

SIMON Hooper will referee the opening match of the 2016-17 SkyBet English Football League season on Friday night.

The 34-year-old, from Wiltshire, will be in the middle for Fulham against relegated Newcastle United in the Championship at Craven Cottage (KO 19:45 BST, live on Sky Sports).

He will be ably assisted in west London by Adam Crysell (Essex) and Robert Hyde (London), while the fourth official is David Coote (west Yorkshire), who will fulfil the same role for Saturday’s Championship match between Bristol City and newly-promoted Wigan Athletic at Ashton Gate.

Hooper will also be the fourth official for Ipswich Town’s match with Barnsley at Portman Road on Saturday.

Simon Hooper referee (Burnley v Brighton - 22nd Nov 2015)
Aim: Hooper, who has been fourth official for a number of Premier League games, has ambitions to become a Select Group referee (Picture from Sky Sports)

Last season, he took charge of his only Premier League game on the opening weekend when Norwich lost 3-1 to Crystal Palace at Carrow Road – in which he controversially ruled out a second-half Cameron Jerome equaliser for the Canaries.

His display was heavily criticised, including by former top-flight official Mark Halsey.

Hooper also made headlines on the opening weekend two years ago when he appeared to be shoved by Norwich’s Martin Olsson as he sent off the defender in their 1-0 Championship defeat by Wolves at Molineux.

The former IT services manager, who has officiated over 100 Championship games, is now one of 18 referees which forms the new Select Group 2 to take charge of second-tier matches.

Simon Hooper stats
Statistics: How Simon Hooper’s 2015-16 campaign fared across all competitions (Picture from

The Swindon-based whistler handled 43 games across all competitions last term – brandishing 103 yellow cards, sending off two players and awarding 11 penalties.

Failing to make the grade at Swindon Town as a striker when released at the age of 16 after seven years at his hometown club, Hooper took up refereeing with his father Pete and progressed to earn promotion to the Football League as a linesman in 2006.

He oversaw the Conference League Cup Final in 2008 at the end of his first campaign as a National List referee, in which Aldershot Town defeated Rushden and Diamonds 4-3 on penalties after a 3-3 draw at the Recreation Ground.

His first ever Football League game came in the fourth tier when Exeter faced Shrewsbury in August 2007.

Simon Hooper (Brentford 0-1 M'boro at Griffin Park - 31st Jan 2015)
Decade: Hooper is starting his 10th season as a National Group referee (Picture from Sky Sports)

Hooper has had two trips to Wembley in his career so far – refereeing the 2015 League Two Play-Off Final after being fourth official for the FA Trophy Final in the same year.

He will control his first game involving Newcastle but encountered Fulham three times last season – their 3-2 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday in September, 4-1 win over Rotherham in December, and 2-2 draw with Reading in March in which he awarded two penalties.

It’s the start of Fulham’s third consecutive season in the Championship and first full campaign under former Watford manager Slavisa Jokanovic.

Newcastle, relegated from the Premier League last season, face a second Championship season in six years and Rafael Benitez’s side have been installed as promotion favourites by bookmakers.

Oliver Langford with Sam Clucas (v Reading - 16th Dec 2015)
Established: Langford has handled almost 200 games in his eight seasons in the Football League so far (Picture from Sky Sports)

Elsewhere, Oliver Langford will be in charge of Sunday’s first televised game between QPR and Leeds United at Loftus Road (KO 12:00 BST, live on Sky Sports).

The West Midlands whistler will be assisted by Steven Meredith (Nottinghamshire) and Mark Russell (Somerset), while Andy Madley (west Yorkshire) will be the fourth official.

Also, Stephen Martin will be the man in charge for Sunday’s other game as Sheffield Wednesday take on Aston Villa (KO 16:30 BST, live on Sky Sports).

The Staffordshire-based referee will make the decisions at Hillsborough as last season’s play-off finalists Wednesday host relegated Villa, who will be under Roberto di Matteo in a competitive game for the first time.

Martin – who was fourth official for the League One Play-Off Final in May – has officiated over 150 Football League games since joining the National Group in 2012.

It’s not the first time he has received a Championship TV game on the opening weekend of the season after overseeing Ipswich’s 2-1 win over Fulham in August 2014.

Both refereed League Two Play-Off semi-finals last season – with Langford having an eventful night in Portsmouth’s 2-2 first-leg draw with Plymouth, while Martin took charge of AFC Wimbledon’s 1-0 first-leg win over Accrington Stanley.


Keith Stroud referee (Blackburn v Burnley - 24th October 2015)
Seasoned campaigner: Experienced former Premier League official Stroud has overseen two of the last three opening matches to a Football League season (Picture from Sky Sports)

August 7, 2015:  Brighton 1-0 Nottingham Forest (Championship)
Referee:  Keith Stroud (Hampshire)

August 8, 2014:  Blackburn Rovers 1-1 Cardiff City (Championship)
Referee:  Andy Madley (West Yorkshire)

August 2, 2013:  Sheffield United 2-1 Notts County (League One)
Referee:  Keith Stroud (Hampshire)

August 17, 2012:  Cardiff City 1-0 Huddersfield (Championship)
Referee:  Roger East (Wiltshire)

August 5, 2011:  Hull City 0-1 Blackpool (Championship)
Referee:  Scott Mathieson (Cheshire)


John Brooks flags for offside (Arsenal v Man United - 4th October 2015)
Running the line: Brooks was a Premier League assistant referee for four seasons and joined the Fifa list in January 2015 (Picture from Sky Sports)

Three referees will be running out at Football League stadiums for their first games in the middle in League Two on the opening weekend.

Leicestershire’s John Brooks will take charge of Blackpool’s first fourth-tier game since relegation against Exeter City at Bloomfield Road.

Robert Jones, from Merseyside, will be in the middle for Newport County against Mansfield Town at Rodney Parade.

Ollie Yates (Staffordshire) faces a long journey to Somerset after being appointed to Yeovil Town’s opening match at home to Notts County.

All three officials were promoted from the National League during the summer, along with Michael Salisbury, Brett Huxtable and John Busby.

Brooks was a linesman for a number of high-profile Premier League games, as well as the 2014 Championship Play-Off Final and 2016 FA Cup Final – both at Wembley.

The 26-year-old will oversee Gary Bowyer’s first match in charge of the Seasiders, with the assistance of Michael Denton (Lancashire), Wayne Grunnill (East Yorkshire) and fourth official Alan Clayton (Cheshire).

Jones has refereed in the National League and Women’s Super League for two years as well as being a Football League assistant for over 100 games.

The Liverpool-based official had two trips to Wembley in May – as referee for the National League Promotion Final and assistant referee for the League One Play-Off Final.

He will be assisted on Saturday by Ravel Cheosiaua (Worcestershire) and Select Group linesman Andy Garratt (west Midlands), with Eddie Smart (west Midlands) in control of electronic board duties.

Meanwhile, Yates, who had been a Football League assistant since 2009, only refereed 21 National League games in two seasons but was fourth official for May’s Promotion Final between Grimsby Town and Forest Green Rovers.

His assistant referees at Somerset Park are Matt Eva (Surrey) and Michael Webb (Surrey), while Simon Knapp (Bristol) will be the fourth official.


Lee Probert pulls out yellow card (Hull v Man Utd - 24th May 2015)
Injury-ravaged: Probert has handled 145 Premier League games since 2007 but only seven in the last two seasons (Picture from Sky Sports)

Premier League referee Lee Probert is set to make his long-awaited return from injury this weekend.

The Wiltshire-based whistler will take charge of the League Two clash between newly-promoted Cheltenham Town and Leyton Orient.

He will be assisted by Select Group linesmen Derek Eaton (Gloucestershire) and Andrew Fox (Warwickshire), with Marc Perry (West Midlands) acting as fourth official.

Probert has only handled 22 games in all competitions in the last two seasons having been sidelined with leg, knee and back problems respectively.

It led to rumours the 43-year-old could be forced to retire prematurely but, after officiating several pre-season friendlies, he will be back on duty at Whaddon Road – close to where he was born in south Gloucestershire.

Lee Probert sends off Marouane Fellaini (v Hull - 24th May 2015)
Seeing red: Probert sent off Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini in their goalless draw at Hull in his last domestic match on the final day of the 2014-15 Premier League season (Picture from Sky Sports)

Probert oversaw just one game last season – a Europa League qualifier in Belgium in July between Charleroi and Beitar Jerusalem, in which he issued seven yellows and two red cards.

He only officiated 21 games in 2014-15 – with the first not coming until December 20 in Accrington’s 1-1 draw with Wycombe in League Two.

Probert didn’t take charge of the first of his seven Premier League games that season until April 4 in QPR’s 4-1 win over 10-man West Brom at the Hawthorns.

He could be in line for a first top-flight match since May 2014 next weekend, in this his 10th year as a Select Group referee.

Probert – who was the man in black for the 2014 FA Cup Final at Wembley – is still one of eight English Fifa referees, having been on the list since 2010.

Click here for a full list of appointments for the Football League’s opening weekend

Referee Probert makes Premier League return

Wiltshire referee Lee Probert will take charge of his first Premier League game of the season on Saturday when West Bromwich Albion meet Queens Park Rangers at the Hawthorns.

Lee Probert (Wiltshire) FA Cup January 2014
Seasoned campaigner: This is Probert’s ninth season as a Select Group referee

HE has had to play a patient waiting game but after a steady recovery and an extended period of being eased back into action in the Football League, referee Lee Probert is back in the Premier League – where he feels he belongs.

The Wiltshire-based whistler would have been itching to kick-on this campaign having received the biggest honour of any official’s career – refereeing the FA Cup Final at Wembley.

But Probert – who oversaw Arsenal’s 3-2 win over Hull without any major hiccups – suffered a knee injury over the summer which has somewhat hampered his progress.

The 42-year-old made a long-awaited return to the pitch on December 20 in the League Two encounter between Accrington and promotion-chasing Wycombe.

After 10 further games including five in the Championship and three FA Cup ties, Probert has been appointed to his first top-flight game since May last year.

Like his last one, it will take place at the Hawthorns where West Bromwich Albion play host to relegation-threatened QPR on Saturday at 3pm – with the assistance of Ron Ganfield, Mark Scholes and fourth official Darren Bond.

On Easter Monday, Probert will switch from man in the middle to the one on the sidelines when overseeing electronic board duties at Selhurst Park for Michael Oliver in Crystal Palace’s Premier League encounter with champions Manchester City.

It has been a quiet re-introduction so far for the Gloucester-born referee, who has dished out an average of three yellow cards per game, awarded three penalties and sent off two players – both in the Championship.

One of those dismissals came just 28 seconds into Bournemouth’s 2-0 win over Watford at the end of January when Hornets defender Gabrielle Angella was adjudged to have brought down Cherries striker Callum Wilson as the last man although replays suggested otherwise.

Additionally, Probert has been the fourth official for 11 games so far this season – nine of them in the Premier League including for Southampton’s 2-0 win over Burnley prior to the international break.

Last Sunday, he was at Anfield to take control of Liverpool’s All-Star Charity Match between two XIs assembled by Reds legends Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher.

Last month, Probert held a lecture at the University of Bath giving students a unique insight into the demands a modern referee has to contend with.

Lee Probert warms up (Liverpool v Bolton in 2012)
Warming up: Probert has had 11 matches in the middle so far in the Football League and FA Cup this season (Picture from WikiCommons)

Despite being on the treatment table for much of the first half of the campaign, it did not prevent Probert from being the subject of criticism from former referees’ chief Keith Hackett who claimed the Fifa official should be dropped if he fails a fitness test.

Having sat out 30 rounds of Premier League fixtures, his absence paved the way for Football League whistlers Paul Tierney, Graham Scott, Keith Stroud and Stuart Attwell to take charge of trial games to prove their potential in the top-flight.

Aside from last season’s surprise call-up for the FA Cup showpiece, Probert’s high-profile appointments also consist of the 2010 FA Trophy Final as Barrow beat Stevenage after extra time.

He was back at the national stadium a year later as fourth official for the FA Cup Final between Manchester City and Stoke City.

Probert’s first step-up to the top-flight came in January 2007 after four seasons on the National Group of referees before his official promotion came at the start of the 2007-08 campaign.

Lee Probert with two captains at FA Cup Final 2014
Honour: Probert (middle) became only the second Wiltshire official to referee an FA Cup Final last season

He oversaw 33 games in all competitions last term with 21 coming in the Premier League including a first Tyne-Wear derby and six games in a row immediately before issuing four yellow cards in what was a largely incident-free 133rd FA Cup Final.

His successful season did not end at Wembley, though, but with an international friendly between Nigeria and Scotland which ended 2-2 at Fulham’s Craven Cottage.

Indeed, Probert has been on the Fifa list of referees as a Category Two official since late 2010 – allowing him to take control of international matches and Europa League games.

It will be his first encounter with Queens Park Rangers since their 2-1 Premier League defeat at home to Newcastle in May 2013 in which he awarded both sides a penalty and sent off visiting goalkeeper Rob Elliot.

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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