Atkinson to referee FA Cup final

BY foxsports • April 19, 2011

The 40-year-old from Wakefield will take charge of the final between Manchester City and Stoke City at Wembley on May 14 with assistants Adam Watts from Worcestershire and Bedfordshire's Simon Beck. Atkinson was criticised by Ferguson after Manchester United's 2-1 defeat at Chelsea in the Premier League in May for awarding a late penalty against his side and failing to send off David Luiz. Atkinson said it was a dream come true to be chosen. He said: "It's such a massive game domestically and I'm very proud and honoured to be appointed. "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's first cup final was as a teenage junior referee in the Spen Valley League in the Dewsbury and Heckmondwike area of West Yorkshire. He added: "I started off with those sorts of games, built up some experience there and then just moved my way up through the different levels of district football." Other notable games he has taken charge of include the 2006 Community Shield, the 2009 FA Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley, and earlier this month Schalke 04's Champions League quarter-final 5-2 triumph over Inter Milan at the San Siro. Atkinson said: "My team on the day are all FIFA international officials and we've all worked together before so it's great that they're being recognised and I'm delighted for them. "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 final. They've got great experience in those sorts of games and will really help me prepare for 14 May." United boss Ferguson was banned and fined after the claimed that he "feared the worst" when learning of Atkinson's appointment for the Chelsea match - the same official had angered him during the 1-0 defeat by Chelsea last season. "We need a fair referee and a strong referee and we didn't get one," Ferguson said.

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