BY KUNLE SOLAJA
Anthony Taylor who officiated the 2017 FA Cup final match of Arsenal and Chelsea will be the referee again on Saturday when the two clubs meet again.
He is well remembered for the red card he gave to Nigerian-born Chelsea wingback, Victor Moses in the memorable encounter.
Taylor will be joined by assistant referees Gary Beswick (Durham FA) and Adam Nunn (Wiltshire FA), fourth official Chris Kavanagh (Manchester FA) and reserve assistant referee Lee Betts (Norfolk FA).
Stuart Attwell (Birmingham FA) will be the video assistant referee (VAR), and will be joined at Stockley Park by assistant VAR (AVAR) Steve Child (London FA).
And having previously refereed the 2017 final match, Taylor will join a unique group of officials to have taken charge of the Final on two occasions, becoming only the eighth person to do so and the first to repeat the duty since Arthur Kingscott in 1901.
While the appointment to officiate an FA Cup Final usually happens only once in an official’s career, the FA Referees’ Committee decided that, in this unique year, it was necessary to make an exception, the FA stated in its official website.
“Refereeing an FA Cup Final is a dream but, unlike the players, a referee usually only does the Final once,” explained FA Referees’ Committee chairman David Elleray.
“This makes the appointment very special and a significant part of the Cup Final appointment is the opportunity to share this – the English refereeing pinnacle – with partners, family, friends and those who have been an important part of their long journey to the Final.
“Sadly, this year’s Final will be very different and will be held without all these elements in an empty stadium. With this in mind, the Committee decided it would be unfair to appoint someone who has not yet done the Final and have, instead, appointed Anthony Taylor to his second FA Cup Final.”
Altrincham-based Taylor, who is regarded as one of Europe’s and England’s top officials, will next month referee in the UEFA Champions League or Europa League with the same team of assistants, Nunn, Beswick and Attwell (VAR).
And he spoke of his honour at being able to take charge of this year’s Final, ironically featuring the same clubs from his last Final appearance in 2017.
“Of course, any Final is obviously a huge honour and privilege for the whole team to be doing and I sincerely mean that about the team because I’m in the fortunate position where I get to work with the same two assistants on every game both at home and abroad,” he said.
“It’s just an iconic occasion at the best of times, but this year is a unique one with no spectators. We know there are different circumstances this year and the 2020 Final will always be remembered because of this.
“But it was a little bit unexpected to get the call, having already refereed the FA Cup Final a couple of years ago, so I’m very humbled and equally honoured to have been asked to take charge of the Final again.
“It’s ironic that it’s the same clubs, but it’s now two different teams. Clubs who reach the Final don’t get there by fluke, and whichever teams end up in the FA Cup Final, it’s always going to be an intense occasion to officiate.
“However, any official who has refereed the FA Cup Final will say that when you’re appointed to the game, it’s not just recognition for you as an individual, it’s a recognition for all of the people who’ve supported you over the years and helped you to reach the elite level.
“That’s what makes the occasion so special, not just the match but that you get to share it with your close friends and family who will be there supporting you.
“Obviously, that’s not going to be possible this time, but there’s other ways and means that friends and family can be supporting us on the day.”