The decision to put referee Anthony Taylor in charge of Monday night’s clash between Liverpool and Manchester United has been criticised by the former head of professional referees.
Taylor, 37, was born in Wythenshawe, Greater Manchester and lives in Altrincham – only six miles away from Old Trafford.
The appointment has prompted criticism from Liverpool fans on social media, and former referees chief Keith Hackett agrees it is a problematic appointment.
Hackett, former head of Professional Game Match Officials Ltd, told the You Are The Ref website: “No-one is questioning Anthony’s integrity or his ability to handle this game.
“You could argue it’s testimony to his unflappable character and capacity to focus that he’s been appointed to it.
“But what if something goes wrong for him on the day – as it can for even the finest referees? That’s when the focus on him would be intolerable, especially if a controversial incident has gone in favour of Liverpool and it influences the result.
“If that happens then it would be those who appointed him who must take the blame for taking such an avoidable risk – on a weekend when Mark Clattenburg, the 2016 Champions League final referee, is holding up a board as fourth official in another match.”
On the criticism the appointment of Taylor has already prompted, Hackett added: “It is a small slice of what can be expected if things go wrong for Anthony – and his bosses – in the game itself.
“I sincerely hope that he has a very good match – for any number of reasons.”