Euro 2016: Clattenburg and Atkinson given last-16 matches

Martin Atkinson referee (Hungary v Portugal)
Experienced: Atkinson has been a Premier League referee since 2004 and joined the Fifa list two years later (Picture from BBC Sport)

ENGLISH referees Mark Clattenburg and Martin Atkinson have been chosen to oversee last-16 ties at Euro 2016 on Saturday.

Clattenburg will handle the first knockout game when Switzerland face Poland at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in Saint-Etienne (KO 14:00 BST, live on BBC One).

Atkinson has been selected to keep the peace as British rivals Wales and Northern Ireland lock horns at the Parc des Princes in Paris (KO 17:00 BST, live on BBC One).

Both officials will take charge of their third games of the tournament and the appointments are another illustration of how highly English officials are regarded in Europe.

Meanwhile, Saturday’s final knockout game between Croatia and Portugal will be officiated by Spain’s Carlos Velasco Carballo.


Of the 18 referees taken to Euro 2016, three were British – with England the only nation to have two representatives in the shape of experienced duo Clattenburg and Atkinson.

The pair have performed to a high level on a regular basis in the pressure cooker of the intensely competitive Premier League for over a decade.

And, after making do with a backseat role at the European Championship four years ago as additional assistants in Howard Webb’s team of officials, they are certainly taking their opportunity to shine in their first refereeing appearance at a major international tournament.

Mark Clattenburg referee
Veteran: Clattenburg has been officiating in the Premier League since 2004 and became a Fifa referee two years later (Picture from BBC Sport)

Seen as a personal favourite of Pierluigi Collina, the head of Uefa’s Referees Committee, Clattenburg is highly rated and respected on the continental stage.

The Newcastle-based whistler, 40, handled the finals of the FA Cup and Champions League last month – with other honours including the 2012 Olympic men’s football showpiece at Wembley and 2014 Uefa Super Cup in Cardiff.

Clattenburg – a trained electrician by trade – put in one of the best refereeing displays of the group phase in Italy’s opening 2-0 win over Belgium, in what was a tough contest to officiate.

He also dealt with a difficult situation in the Czech Republic’s 2-2 draw with Croatia when flares were thrown onto the pitch during the second period.

The County Durham-born official, known for his informal communication with players on the pitch, has often caused controversy with his decision making and generally divides opinion among football fans.

Clattenburg – who has never met either Switzerland or Poland in an international fixture before – has overseen nine Champions League and six Europa League knockout games since 2011.

He dished out 97 yellow cards, sent off six players and awarded four penalties in 30 Premier League games last season.

Atkinson, meanwhile, has never officiated a Wales international before but only encountered Northern Ireland in their 3-0 friendly win over Belarus in Belfast on May 27.

He has previously controlled a game between two home nations, one of which was Northern Ireland – their 1-0 friendly defeat to Scotland at Hampden Park in March 2015.

The West Yorkshire whistler caught the eye in Germany’s 2-0 win over Ukraine and Portugal’s 3-3 draw with Hungary during the group stages, impressing with his usual authoratitive yet methodical approach.

The 45-year-old, from Bradford, described the emotions he felt when being called up for the tournament as “pride, delight and relief”.

His biggest European honour to date was handling the 2015 Uefa Europa League Final between Sevilla and Dnipro in Warsaw.

Atkinson brandished 100 yellows, one red card and gave two spotkicks in 29 Premier League matches in 2015-16.

The sides’ warm-up in Cardiff in March was also handled by a referee from the British Isles – Scotland’s Steven McLean, who awarded Wales a late penalty which Simon Church converted to salvage a 1-1 draw.

It will be the second so-called ‘Battle of Britain’ of the tournament after England scraped a last-gasp 2-1 victory over Wales in Lens on June 16 – a game refereed by Germany’s Felix Brych.

Chris Coleman’s Wales defied the odds to top Group B with six points, while Northern Ireland qualified from Group C as one of the four best third-placed teams.

In the final standings, Michael O’Neill’s team were behind Poland, who finished runners-up to world champions Germany, while Switzerland came second in Group A with hosts France ahead of them.

Scotland’s Willie Collum was the other British refereeing representative selected but the 35-year-old and his colleagues north of the border were one of eight teams of officials sent home at the end of the group phase.


Carlos Velasco Carballo
In the middle: Carballo has handled many key European games including the 2011 Uefa Europa League Final (Picture from BBC Sport)

Carballo has been appointed to oversee the intriguing evening clash as Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal seek their first Euro 2016 win against the impressive Croatians.

The 45-year-old will be the man in the middle at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis in Lens (KO 20:00 BST, live on ITV).

He will be ably assisted by fellow countrymen Roberto Alonso Fernandez and Juan Carlos Yuste Jiminez, and additional assistants Jesus Gil Manzano and Carlos del Cerro Grande.

Hungary’s Viktor Kassai will be the fourth official, with Gyorgy Ring acting as the reserve official.

Carballo, renowned as being a strict disciplinarian, has now been Spain’s refereeing representative at the last three major international tournaments but will retire from active duty when returning to his home city Madrid.

The industrial engineer was in the middle for the opening match of Euro 2012 when co-hosts Poland drew with Greece, as well as Germany’s 2-1 win over Denmark in the group phase.

At the 2014 World Cup, Carballo handled England’s 2-1 defeat by Uruguay and Bosnia’s 3-1 win over Iran in the group stages before he was criticised for a controversial display in hosts Brazil’s quarter-final win over Colombia.

He issued the first red card of Euro 2016 to Albania captain Lorik Cana in their 1-0 defeat by Switzerland on the second day of the tournament before impressing in England’s goalless draw with Slovakia during the group stages.

Carballo has so far dished out eight bookings but he brandished 74 yellow cards and six red cards during a 12-game spell last season before overseeing two of Liverpool’s Europa League knockout games – against Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund respectively.

He issued a red card, six yellows and awarded a penalty in Croatia’s eventful 5-1 win over Norway during qualification for the tournament, but has never previously encountered Portugal.

Although he is considered above his Spanish counterparts on the European stage, Carballo has often been overlooked for high-profile games in recent seasons in La Liga.

Euro 2016: Referee Willie Collum receives second group game

Scottish whistler Willie Collum will oversee Czech Republic v Turkey in Group D on Tuesday, while Clement Turpin, Svein Oddvar Moen and Bjorn Kuipers also receive their second games of the tournament.

Willie Collum in action
Familiar face: Collum has handled over 250 Scottish top-flight matches and three major domestic finals since 2005 (Picture from ITV Sport)

SCOTTISH referee Willie Collum will take charge of his second Euro 2016 match when the Czech Republic face Turkey in Lens on Tuesday night.

The 37-year-old will be in the middle at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis as both sides play their final Group D games, with the Czechs needing to win to have any chance of reaching the last 16 (KO 20:00 BST, live on ITV4).

He will be ably assisted by Francis Connor and Irish linesman Damien MacGraith, with Bobby Madden and John Beaton acting as additional assistants.

Russia’s Sergei Lapochkin will be the fourth official, while compatriot Nikolai Golubev is the reserve assistant.

Collum – a Religious Education teacher from Belshill, north Lanarkshire – is taking part in his first major international tournament as a referee.

The Glasgow-born whistler went to the Under-20s World Cup in Colombia in 2011 and was an additional assistant referee in Craig Thomson’s team of officials at Euro 2012.

He strolled comfortably through his first match without any controversy and issued three bookings as France struck twice late on to clinch a 2-0 win over Albania in Marseille on Wednesday.

Father-of-three Collum, who has been on the Fifa list since 2006, described being selected as one of 18 referees for Euro 2016 as ‘the proudest moment of his career without doubt’.

With Scotland having failed to qualify for the tournament, the Uefa Elite Category official could stay beyond the group phase without the intervention of his nation’s progress.

Collum – who dished out nine yellow cards in Barcelona’s 5-4 win over Sevilla in last year’s Uefa Super Cup – encountered the Czechs in their 2-1 defeat to Iceland in qualifying but has never previously officiated a Turkey international.

Czech Republic lost 1-0 to Spain in their opener before fighting back to draw 2-2 with Croatia, who beat Turkey 1-0 in their first game.


Clement Turpin (France)
Inexperienced: Turpin has only handled 48 international matches since becoming a Fifa official in 2010 – the fewest of all the referees at the tournament (Picture from Sky Sports)

The host nation’s sole refereeing representative Clement Turpin will be at the helm for Northern Ireland’s encounter with Germany on Tuesday.

The 34-year-old French official, who is the youngest of the 18 referees at the tournament, will take charge as both sides seek to book their place in the last 16 in their final Group C game (KO 17:00 BST, live on BBC One).

He will be assisted at the Parc des Princes in Paris by Frederic Cano and Nicolas Danos, with Benoit Bastien and Fredy Fautrel as additional assistant referees.

Slavko Vincic is the fourth official, with fellow Slovenian Robert Vukan on standby as the reserve assistant.

Turpin – a referee manager from Montceau-les-Mines – has only been a Uefa Elite Category official for a year, handling six Champions League games and 10 in the Europa League.

He was largely inconsistent in his first match at the tournament and sent off Austria’s Alexander Dragovic for two bookable offences in their 2-0 defeat by Hungary in Bordeaux on Tuesday.

It will be his first Northern Ireland game but Turpin gave out four yellow cards in Germany’s 2-0 win over Georgia in March 2015 during qualifying.

Northern Ireland opened their first ever Euros campaign with a 1-0 loss to Poland before sealing a historic 2-0 success over Ukraine, who Germany also beat 2-0 before the world champions drew 0-0 with Poland.


Svein Oddvar Moen referee
Regular: Moen has been a permanent fixture in the Champions League since 2011 and handled five games in the competition last season (Picture from BBC Sport)

Norway’s Svein Oddvar Moen will be in the middle for rivals Poland and Ukraine’s final Group C game in Marseille (KO 17:00, live on BBC Four).

The 37-year-old has not been in action since the tournament’s second day when he had a steady game in Wales’ 2-1 win over Slovakia in Bordeaux on June 11 – during which he booked five Slovakia players.

And now he will handle a second match in his first major international tournament as referee, with Poland requiring a positive result to seal a top-two finish against the eliminated Ukrainians.

Moen – an ambulance driver by occupation – was the fourth official for last month’s Europa League Final between Liverpool and Sevilla in Basel.

He hasn’t officiated a Poland game before but was in charge of Ukraine’s 2-1 friendly win over Austria in November 2011, in which he dished out seven yellows and a red card.

Moen has been refereeing since 1995 and has slowly worked his way through the ranks to become an established name on the European stage.

He will be assisted by Kim Thomas Haglund and Frank Andas, with Ken Henry Johnsen and Svein Erik Edvartsen acting as additional assistants.

Turkey’s Huseyin Gocek will be the fourth official, while Bahattin Duran will be on standby as the reserve assistant.

Poland and Ukraine were joint-hosts of the last European Championship finals four years ago.

Bjorn Kuipers referee (ROI v Bosnia - 16th November 2015)
We meet again: Kuipers encountered both Croatia and Spain during their qualifying campaigns (Picture from Sky Sports)

Tuesday’s other Group D encounter between Croatia and holders Spain in Bordeaux will be officiated by the experienced Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers.

The 43-year-old has been appointed to keep the peace at the Stade de Bordeaux as the Croats require a point against the 2008 and 2012 winners to seal second spot (KO 20:00 BST, live on ITV).

He will be assisted by fellow countrymen Sander van Roekel and Erwin Zeinstra, and additional assistants Pol van Boekel and Richard Liesveld.

Hungary’s Viktor Kassai will be the fourth official, with compatriot Gyorgy Ring acting as the reserve assistant.

Kuipers has officiated several major finals including the 2011 Uefa Super Cup, 2013 Europa League Final, 2013 Confederations Cup Final and the 2014 Champions League Final.

Among the contenders to take charge of the July 10 showpiece, he is taking part in his third major international tournament as a referee.

Kuipers – a supermarket owner from Oldenzaal – was the fourth official for the tournament opener on June 10 before booking six players during Germany’s goalless draw with Poland in Paris on Thursday.

Spain began with a 1-0 victory over Czech Republic before beating Turkey 3-0 in the biggest win of the tournament so far, while Croatia edged the Turks 1-0 before blowing a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with the Czechs.

Vicente del Bosque’s Spanish side needed a late Jesus Navas goal to beat Croatia 1-0 in their last meeting at Euro 2012 – a game refereed by Germany’s Wolfgang Stark.

Euro 2016: Felix Brych to referee England v Wales

German referee Felix Brych will take charge of England’s eagerly-awaited Group A clash with Wales in Lens on Thursday while Bjorn Kuipers and Pavel Kralovec also receive their first Euro 2016 refereeing appointments.

Felix Brych (Celtic v Malmo CL PO 1st leg - 19th August 2015)
Rising through the ranks: Brych’s first Champions League game was in 2008 and he was promoted to the Uefa Elite Category in 2009-10 (Picture from BT Sport)

GERMAN referee Felix Brych has been appointed to oversee England’s crunch Euro 2016 contest against British rivals Wales on Thursday.

The 40-year-old will take charge of the heavyweight showdown in Group B as both nations seek a positive result in their second game to boost their hopes of reaching the knockout phase.

He will be ably assisted at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis in Lens by Mark Borsch, Stefan Lupp and additional assistants Bastian Dankert and Marco Fritz.

Slovenia’s Matej Jug will be the fourth official, with compatriot Robert Vukan in reserve to complete the team of experienced officials.

Brych has officiated in a number of domestic and European finals and been involved at previous tournaments in recent years, having stepped up as Germany’s number one representative since the retirement of Wolfgang Stark.

He refereed two games apiece at the 2012 Olympic Games men’s football tournament, 2013 Confederations Cup and 2014 World Cup.

The Munich-based whistler, who belongs to the Bavarian Football Association, was fourth official for both the Confederations Cup Final and Europa League Final in 2013.

He took charge of the latter in 2014 when Sevilla beat Benfica on penalties in Turin as well as the Spanish side’s 3-0 first-leg win over Fiorentina in the semi-finals a year later.

Brych first came to the attention of most English football fans after an impressive showing in Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Barcelona in a Champions League semi-final first leg at Stamford Bridge in 2012.

He has, however, been clouded in controversy in quarter-final ties in the last two years – firstly for dismissing Atletico Madrid’s Arda Turan in their 1-0 second-leg defeat to Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in 2015.

The financial lawyer was also criticised for an indifferent performance last term in Barcelona’s ill-tempered 2-1 win over Atletico, who had Fernando Torres sent off for two harsh yellows in six minutes but he failed to give two-goal Luis Suarez a red card for kicking out at Juanfran.

It was one of six Champions League games he handled last season – three involving British sides: Celtic’s 3-2 win over Malmo in the play-off stage, Manchester City’s 1-0 defeat at Juventus in the group phase and Chelsea’s 2-1 home defeat by PSG in the last 16.

Felix Brych in action (CL PO 1st leg Celtic v Malmo - 19th August 2015)
Close to the century: Brych is four games short of 100 international matches in his refereeing career (Picture from BT Sport)

A Fifa official since 2007, Brych began refereeing in 1999 and has been a Bundesliga regular since 2004.

He is an established name among Europe’s elite officials and regularly considered for high-profile occasions, with his strict but level headed approach often suiting competitive encounters – as Thursday’s game is expected to be.

Brych has previously handled a game between England and fellow British rivals in a 3-2 friendly win over Scotland at Wembley in August 2013 which celebrated the English FA’s 150th anniversary.

He last encountered Wales in their momentous 1-0 success over Belgium, which was influential in their qualification to a major tournament for the first time since the 1958 World Cup – booking only two players at the Cardiff City Stadium.

It was one of seven qualifiers for Brych, including the Republic of Ireland’s 1-1 first leg draw in Bosnia in the play-off round.

He will take charge of his fifth England international, with the most recent being their 1-1 draw against Italy in a friendly at the Juventus Stadium in March 2015.

Brych has only given one penalty in his last 30 matches but has issued three red cards in his last seven games.

He handled 34 games across all competitions in 2015-16 – brandishing 146 yellow cards, sending off seven players and awarding four penalties in total.

Among his other career highlights are refereeing the 2012 Cypriot Cup Final and 2015 German Cup Final when Wolfsburg surprised Borussia Dortmund with a 3-1 win in Berlin.

The Three Lions are under pressure to take three points after conceding a 92nd minute equaliser to draw 1-1 with Russia in their opener, while Chris Coleman’s Wales beat Slovakia 2-1 in Bordeaux on Saturday.

The nations last met in qualification for Euro 2012, with England winning 2-0 in Cardiff and 1-0 at Wembley in the two encounters in 2011.


Bjorn Kuipers referee (ROI v Bosnia - 16th November 2015)
Vast experience: Kuipers has been refereeing since 1990, on the Fifa list since 2006 and officiated more than 50 European ties (Picture from Sky Sports)

Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers will oversee his first game of Euro 2016 when Germany meet Poland on Thursday.

The 43-year-old will be in the middle for the Group A clash as both nations go in search of the win which would cement their passage to the last 16.

He will be ably assisted in Saint-Denis by his trusty sidekicks Sander van Roekel and Erwin Zeinstra, with Richard Liesveld and Pol van Boekel the additional assistants.

Daniele Orsato – who replaced Luca Banti in the Italian officiating team – is the fourth official, with fellow countryman Elenito Di Liberatore acting as the reserve assistant.

Kuipers returns to the Stade de France, where he was the fourth official to Hungary’s Viktor Kassai for the tournament opener on June 10 as hosts France beat Romania 2-1.

The supermarket owner is no stranger to major finals having controlled the finals of the Uefa Super Cup in 2011, Europa League and Confederations Cup in 2013, and the Champions League in 2014.

He was sent home following the group stages at Euro 2012 after handling Republic of Ireland’s opening 3-1 defeat by Croatia and France’s 2-0 win over co-hosts Ukraine, during which he had to suspend the game because of a torrential electrical storm.

At the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Kuipers oversaw England’s opening 2-1 defeat against Italy and France’s 5-2 win over Switzerland in the group stages before Colombia’s 2-0 success over Uruguay in the last 16.

The Oldenzaal-born whistler refereed six Euro 2016 qualifiers – including Germany’s 3-2 win over Scotland at Hampden Park and the Republic of Ireland’s 2-0 second-leg victory over Bosnia in the play-off round.

His last encounter with Poland was their 1-1 draw against Montenegro in a World Cup qualifier in September 2013 – in which he booked six players.

With Holland not participating in the tournament, he is a likely contender to oversee the final on July 10 at the Stade de France.

Kuipers is the last of the 18 referees to take to the field on matchday seven and will need to have his wits about him for what is expected to be a fiercely-contested match after both sides won their opening games.

Poland edged past Northern Ireland 1-0 in Nice on Sunday before world champions Germany beat Ukraine 2-0 in Lille.

The two nations also met in qualification for the tournament – with Poland securing a stunning 2-0 triumph in Warsaw before Germany won 3-1 in Frankfurt.

Click here for an in-depth interview with Kuipers


Pavel Kralovec (Czech Republic) for Belgium v Wales 16th Nov 2014
First time: Kralovec has not refereed an international involving Northern Ireland before in his career (Picture from Sky Sports)

Pavel Kralovec will be the man in the middle for Northern Ireland’s second Euro 2016 match against Ukraine.

The 39-year-old, from the Czech Republic, will take charge of a must-win Group C game for Michael O’Neill’s men and the Ukrainians in Lyon on Thursday, June 16 (KO 17:00 BST).

He will be assisted at the Olympique Lyonnais by fellow countrymen Roman Slyško and Tomáš Mokrusch, while Petr Ardeleanu and Michal Paták are the additional assistants.

Greece’s Anastasios Sidiropoulos is the fourth official, with compatriot Damianos Efthymiadis is the reserve assistant.

Kralovec was a fourth official for three games at Euro 2012 and was on the prospective list of 52 referees for the 2014 World Cup but didn’t make the final 25.

The Czechoslovakia-born whistler has been officiating in the Synot league in his home country since 2004 and became a Fifa official a year later.

He has previously officiated at the 2011 Under-17 World Cup in Mexico and the 2012 Olympic Games men’s football tournament, where he oversaw three games including Brazil’s 3-0 semi-final win over Korea Republic.

Kralovec handled five Euro 2016 qualifiers – including Wales’ goalless draw away to Belgium and England’s 4-0 victory over Lithuania at Wembley.

The engineer is a regular in both European competitions, officiating six games in 2015-16 – including Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Dynamo Kiev and Manchester United’s goalless draw with PSV in the Champions League group stages.

Kralovec has received some high-profile appointments in the knockout stages in Europe since the start of 2011-12, many involving British sides, but has impressed observers for his steady handling of games.

Northern Ireland lost 1-0 to Poland in their first-ever European Championship game, while Mykhaylo Fomenko’s Ukraine went down 2-0 to World Cup holders Germany.

Martin Atkinson to referee Germany v Ukraine at Euro 2016

English referee Martin Atkinson will handle world champions Germany’s first Euro 2016 game against Ukraine while Ovidiu Hategan of Romania will oversee Sunday’s other Group C encounter between Poland and Northern Ireland.

Martin Atkinson referee (Bayern Munich v FC Porto - 21st April 2015)
Previous experience: Atkinson was an additional assistant as part of Howard Webb’s team of officials at Euro 2012 (Picture from Sky Sports)

ENGLISH referee Martin Atkinson will take charge of Germany’s Group C clash with Ukraine in Lille on Sunday. 

The 45-year-old will be in the middle for the first time at the tournament when the 2014 World Cup winners face the Ukranians at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy on matchday three (KO 20:00 BST).

The Premier League whistler will be ably assisted by fellow countrymen Mike Mullarkey and Stephen Child, and additional assistants Michael Oliver and Craig Pawson.

Scotland’s Bobby Madden is the fourth official, with Frank Connor acting as the reserve assistant.

Atkinson is one of two English refereeing representatives in France this summer, along with Mark Clattenburg – the only nation to have more than one referee.

The Bradford-based official has been a regular in England’s top-flight since 2005 and on the Fifa list since 2006 but this is his first experience of a major international finals as a referee.

Among his domestic and European honours are the 2011 FA Cup Final, 2013 Championship Play-Off Final, 2014 Capital One Cup Final and 2015 Europa League Final.


Ovidiu Hategan referee
Rookie: Hategan is the second youngest of the 18 referees at Euro 2016 behind France’s 34-year-old Clement Turpin (Picture from Sky Sports)

Ovidiu Alin Hategan, of Romania, will take charge of Northern Ireland’s first ever match at the European Championships when they face Poland.

The 35-year-old will oversee the other Group C encounter on Sunday at the Allianz Rivieira (KO 17:00 BST).

Like Atkinson, it will be a first appointment of Euro 2016 in what is his first major international tournament as a referee.

The Arad-born official, who has trained as a doctor, has been on the Fifa list since 2008 and a Champions League regular since 2012.

Hategan will be familiar to Manchester City fans after being acquitted of accusations he failed to deal with Yaya Toure’s racism complaint in a Champions League game against CSKA Moscow in Russia in 2013.

He was also in charge of City’s last-16 second leg against Dynamo Kiev – a disappointing goalless draw at the Etihad Stadium in which he booked three players.

Hategan will be assisted in Nice by linesmen Octavian Sovre and Sebastian Gheorghe and additional assistant referees Alexandru Tudor and Sebastian Coltescu, all of Romania.

Greece’s Anastasios Sidiropoulos will be the fourth official for his second game of the tournament, while compatriot Damianos Efthymiadis is the reserve assistant.


Jonas Eriksson referee (Liverpool v Sevilla EL Final - 18th May 2016)
Recent outing: Eriksson was in charge of the Uefa Europa League Final between Liverpool and Sevilla at St-Jakob Park last month (Picture from BT Sport)

Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson has been appointed to Turkey against Croatia in Paris on Sunday.

The 42-year-old will oversee the first Group D match at the Parc des Princes (KO 14:00 BST, live on ITV).

Mathias Klasenius and Daniel Warnmark are the assistant referees while Stefan Johannesson and Markus Strombergsson, also of Sweden, are the additional assistants.

Scotland’s Willie Collum will be the fourth official while Irish linesman Damien MacGraith is the reserve assistant.

Ex-journalist Eriksson is officiating at his third major international tournament after Euro 2012 and the 2014 World Cup.

The Sigtuna-based whistler was the referee for the 2013 Uefa Super Cup, last season’s Europa League Final and the fourth official for the 2015 Champions League Final.

He is a multi-millionaire after selling his stake in a Swedish media rights business in 2007.

Derby County defender rejoins Fulham on loan

Northern Ireland international Chris Baird has rejoined Fulham on loan for the rest of the season from fellow SkyBet Championship side Derby County.

Chris Baird in warm-up (Derby captain v Portsmouth - 12th August 2015)
Absent: Baird has had multiple injuries this season and the form of Cyrus Christie has also limited his playing opportunities (Picture from Sky Sports)

CHRIS Baird has returned to Fulham on loan for the rest of the season after falling out of favour at Derby County.

The versatile Northern Ireland international is back at Craven Cottage, where he spent six years before leaving in the summer of 2013.

He had spells at Reading, Burnley and West Bromwich Albion before signing for Derby on a two-year deal last June, becoming the club’s new captain.

But the 33-year-old has made just 13 appearances in an injury-ravaged campaign and the skipper’s armband was handed back to Richard Keogh earlier this month following the dismissal of head coach Paul Clement.

The former Southampton academy graduate left St Mary’s for west London in 2007 and scored four goals in 165 appearances for the Cottagers.

Baird occupied a number of positions in defence and midfield and played a key role as Fulham finished seventh in the Premier League in 2009 and reached the Uefa Europa League Final in 2010 under the current England boss Roy Hodgson.

He told the club’s official website: “When the opportunity arose I had no doubt in my mind that I wanted to come and be part of this again.

“I’m looking forward to playing in front of the fans again. They were fantastic to me over the six years that I was here previously.”

Baird also has 74 caps for his country since making his senior international debut in a 2-0- defeat by Italy in 2003 and could be involved in Martin O’Neill’s squad for Euro 2016 having played a part in the qualification campaign.

Fulham sit 19th in the SkyBet Championship, six points above the bottom three, heading into Saturday’s London derby at home to second-bottom Charlton Athletic.