FA Cup Final referee’s admission over unexpected call up and Wembley deja vu

Anthony Taylor admits he did not expect to get the call to take charge of a second FA Cup final.

Premier League official Taylor has got the nod even though he refereed the 2017 final as the Wembley showpiece is normally reserved as a one-off honour.

But the Football Association took the decision because they did not want a new referee to miss out on having their family and friends at Wembley for what is normally the pinnacle of their career.

Taylor, 41, said: “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 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.

“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.”

Taylor was involved in controversy three years ago as he allowed Alexis Sanchez’s early goal to stand despite Chelsea appeals for a free kick with Arsenal running out 2-1 winners.

The winners will pick up the trophy and their medals from a plinth on the pitch while the losers will get their runners-up medals post match.

FA chairman Greg Clarke has written a message in the programme stressing the final is even more “symbolic” than usual.

Clarke said: “There’s no doubt that the stadium will look and feel very different, the noise, colour and camaraderie will be sorely missed but both clubs will no doubt feel the support of the many millions watching with loved ones from the safety of their own home.

“The Emirates FA Cup embodies football’s ability to unite, empower and uplift and after several difficult months for the country, this season’s final – the 139th in the competition's history – carries more symbolic importance than ever.

“Thanks to the support of our title partner Emirates, The Heads Up FA Cup Final will hopefully encourage the millions around the world watching to stimulate a conversation on mental health.”

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