Date: 27th January 2007 at 11:56am
Written by:

FA Cup 4th Round – Old Trafford
Saturday 27th January 2007 – 5.15 p.m. kick off



The match referee for Saturday`s game at Old Trafford in the FA Cup 4th round between Manchester United and Portsmouth will be the highly controversial Mr. Mike Riley.

Many will look at his name on the match day programme and groan, but it has to be said he is without doubt one of our best referees. He has not always been particularly well liked by many supporters and indeed managers; accusations of him being more of a Manchester United fan than a referee have frequently been made. He has courted controversy on many occasions, his actions at Old Trafford in the past have often had many opposition supporter and media editors questioning a few of his decisions.

He has the highest record of penalties awarded against the away side when playing at Old Trafford and the lowest in awarding them to the away side. Indeed, the last time he officiated in an FA Cup tie between these two clubs was in fact at Old Trafford on Saturday 4th January 2003. During that match, Mr. Riley awarded United two penalties to that day, the home side finishing up 4-1 winners.

Mike Riley has officiated in fourteen Premiership matches this season, in which he has shown both his cards no less than fifty nine times so far. He has issued five red and fifty four yellow, which elevates him to second spot in the Referee`s Table, Uriah Rennie holding the top spot for another week. Of those fourteen league matches, three of them involved Manchester United; the 1-0 home win over Tottenham Hotspur, a 1-0 away win at Blackburn Rovers and the 4-1 win over Wigan at Old Trafford, so it will be an unusual prospect for Mr. Riley to find himself seeing United draw or lose. Mr. Riley was due to officiate last week`s match at the Emirates Stadium between Arsenal and Manchester United but was taken ill. No jokes please about that being the reason United lost!

Mr. Riley, who hails from West Yorkshire, started out as a referee in 1980 in Rotherham before making it onto the National List of Assistant Referees in 1989. Five years later, he was promoted to the National List of Referees and then moved up to the FA Premier League list in 1996/97 season. Europe beckoned then in 1999 he was recognised by FIFA as a top referee and was added to the FIFA International list in 1999.

Outside of football, his interests are cricket and fell walking (some would even add Manchester United, which may confuse some people if they remember their War of the Roses history).


The full team of match officials:

Referee: Mike Riley (West Yorkshire)
Assistant Referee (Red/Yellow flag): Shaun Procter Green (Lincolnshire)
Assistant Referee (Yellow flag): Richard West (Yorkshire)
Fourth Official: Lee Mason (Lancashire)