Lee Probert to take charge of The FA Cup Final at Wembley

Wednesday, 16, April, 2014
Lee Probert

Lee Probert will take charge of next month's FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Hull City at Wembley Stadium.

The showpiece match on Saturday 17 May will complete a hat-trick of appearances at the home of English football for Probert, having previously refereed the 2010 FA Trophy Final and been fourth official for the 2011 FA Cup Final between Manchester City and Stoke City.

Appointed unanimously by The FA’s Referees’ Committee, the 41-year-old who originally hails from the Isle of Wight but now lives in Wiltshire, 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 phonecall, 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.

"My dad always said to me 'don’t ever look back and wonder what you could have achieved. If you have an ambition, go and give it 100 per cent and you’ll achieve your goals'."

He continued: "The FA Cup Final is the pinnacle of English football and I’m very grateful to have been given the opportunity by The FA.

"As a youngster, I was no different from any other boy who would watch all the build-up on FA Cup Final day, from the coverage at the team hotels up to the kick-off. You’d then go off to the park and relive The Final with your mates. For anyone, being involved in The FA Cup has got to be one of the best days of your life, in footballing terms certainly.

"It’s the most iconic football competition in the world, with the history that it has, so knowing I’m going to be a part of that rates as one of the best feelings I’ve ever experienced. It’s up there with my wedding day certainly."

Joining Probert (Wiltshire FA) for the 2014 FA Cup Final will be assistant referees Jake Collin (Liverpool FA), Mick McDonough (Northumberland FA), fourth official Kevin Friend (Leicestershire & Rutland FA) and reserve assistant referee Simon Bennett (Staffordshire FA).

David Elleray, Chairman of The FA Referees' Committee, added: "Lee’s appointment as the 2014 FA Cup Final referee represents the highlight of his distinguished refereeing career and The FA Referees’ Committee was unanimous in deciding that he was the ideal referee for this much-anticipated Final.

"Lee has a wealth of domestic and international experience which he will bring to the match and we are very confident that he and his colleagues will work hard to contribute to what we hope will be an exciting and entertaining match.

"A referee only does The FA Cup Final once so this is a very special appointment for all five officials and I have no doubt that everyone in football will wish Lee, Jake, Mick, Kevin and Simon and enjoyable and successful Final."

Meanwhile, 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."

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.

Elleray explained: "The standard of English refereeing at the highest level continues to be one of the domestic game’s biggest success stories."

Referee numbers in English football continue to rise year-on-year with more than 29,000 currently registered across the grassroots game, up from 23,000 in 2008.

Interested in becoming a football referee? Visit www.thefa.com/my-football/referee to find out more.