Martin Atkinson to referee FA Cup final at Wembley

Martin Atkinson (left)
Atkinson refereed the 2009 FA Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Chelsea

Martin Atkinson will referee the FA Cup final between Manchester City and Stoke City on 14 May.

The 40-year-old will be assisted by Adam Watts and Simon Beck while Lee Probert will be the fourth official.

Atkinson was criticised by Sir Alex Ferguson in March for his performance in Chelsea's 2-1 victory over Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.

The Red Devils boss was found guilty of improper conduct and handed a five-match touchline ban and a £30,000 fine.

Ferguson had been incensed by Atkinson's decision not to send off David Luiz for fouls on Javier Hernandez and Wayne Rooney after the Brazilian defender had already been booked. He was also angry about the decision to award Chelsea a late penalty.

"You want a fair referee - or a strong referee, anyway - and we didn't get that," he said immediately after the match.

Atkinson refereed the 2009 FA Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Chelsea and was the fourth official for the final that year.

He was also the fourth official at last season's Champions League final and took charge of Schalke's 5-2 victory over Inter Milan in this year's quarter-final first leg.

But the FA Cup final will be the biggest match of his career.

"It's such a massive game domestically and I'm very proud and honoured to be appointed," Atkinson said.

"I started refereeing when I was 15 and never thought back then that I'd be walking out at as the FA Cup final referee at Wembley Stadium one day."

Atkinson said he would seek advice from some of his more experienced colleagues and predecessors about refereeing such a high-profile match.

"I'm great friends with Howard Webb so I'll be speaking to the likes of him, David Elleray and Mike Riley about refereeing the FA Cup tinal," he said. "They've got great experience in those sort of games and will really help me prepare for 14 May."

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