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Former referees’ chief questions Manc ref appointment

Keith Hackett

Former referees’ chief Keith Hackett can’t believe that Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) have assigned a Manchester-born referee to take charge of Liverpool v Manchester United on Monday.

Anthony Taylor, who lives a stone’s throw from Old Trafford, will be the man in the middle for the highly-charged fixture and Hackett believes the decision to appoint him is grossly unfair.

Hackett said: “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.

“Taylor is also in form and establishing himself firmly as one of the select group’s best operators. 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 his own ‘You are the Ref’ website 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.”