Howard Webb to referee Championship Play-Off Final 2012



By Adam Higgins
Chief Football Editor



Webb (pictured above) has refereed many high-profile matches in his refereeing career but has never officiated a Football League play-off final before


The Football League has announced that Howard Webb will take charge of the Npower Championship Play-Off Final between Blackpool and West Ham United at Wembley.

The 40-year old Select Group match official Webb MBE has been selected for the role of referee as Blackpool fight it out with West Ham for a place in next season's Premier League. 

On the day, the South Yorkshireman will be working alongside his Euro 2012 assistant referees Peter Kirkup (Northamptonshire) and Mike Mullarkey (Devonshire). Kevin Friend is the fourth official while Sian Massey (West Midlands) is the reserve assistant referee.

The World Cup Final 2010 man in the middle will complete his array of massive games when overseeing the match having never previously been appointed to a play-off final of any nature.

Howard's previous trips to Wembley include the 2009 FA Cup Final between Chelsea and Everton as well as several semi-final appointments including last season's Bolton-Stoke and the Merseyside derby last month between Everton and Liverpool. 

He has also been in charge of the 2005 FA Community Shield, 2006 FA Trophy Final and 2007 League Cup Final all at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff while his biggest refereeing emblems to note are the 2010 Champions League Final between Bayern Munich and Inter Milan and the 2010 World Cup Final between Spain and Holland at Soccer City.

The FIFA and UEFA referee, who was promoted to the Premier League list nine years ago, has officiated 46 games this season so far in all competitions handing out 154 yellow cards and 5 red cards. 

He has only officiated one game this campaign involving the two participating teams which came on the first day of the Championship season when Cardiff won 1-0 at Upton Park in Sam Allardyce's first game in charge of West Ham.

Howard is one of twelve hand-picked referees from across Europe travelling to the Euro 2012 tournament in Poland & Ukraine in the summer.

Ian Holloway's Blackpool reached the final after finishing fifth in the regular Championship season while overseeing Birmingham over the two-legged semi-final. 

On the other hand, West Ham finished third after marginally missing out on automatic promotion and hammered Cardiff City 5-0 on aggregate over two legs in the semi-final to reach the Wembey showpiece dubbed as the £90 million match.

Both managers have had slight criticisms over Webb's handling of matches in the past with Holloway admitting that the referee should not have awarded a free-kick to his side which led to Charlie Adam scoring during a 2-2 draw with Blackburn in the Premier League last season. While Allardyce slammed the official for failing to give his Blackburn team a penalty kick at Old Trafford in the past when Morten Gamst Pedersen was clattered into by Rafael Da Silva during a 2-1 defeat to Manchester United in 2009.

The match itself will take place on Saturday 19th May 2012 from the national stadium, kicking off at 3pm and is available to watch live on Sky Sports 1/HD1 and in their exclusive 3D coverage in selected pubs and homes.


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