Alan Wilkie

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Alan Wilkie
Full name Alan B Wilkie
Born 1951
Denton Burn, Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Other occupation previously: Telecommunications electrical engineer
now: Regional Refereeing Manager, The FA
Years League Role
1981–1982 Northern League Asst. referee
1982–1988 Northern League Referee
1985–1988 Football League Referee (supplementary)
1988–1993 Football League Referee
1993–2000 Premier League Referee
Years League Role
1987–1993 UEFA listed Asst. referee
1993–2000 UEFA listed Referee

Alan B. Wilkie (born in 1951[1]) is an English former football referee, who officiated in the Football League and the Premier League, and for UEFA. He was born in Denton Burn, Newcastle upon Tyne, but now lives in Chester-le-Street, County Durham. His other occupation during his refereeing career was as a Telecommunications electrical engineer,[1] and he now works for the Football Association as a regional manager for referees in North East England.[2]


Wilkie became a Class 3 referee in 1977, at the age of 26, when a serious knee injury meant him having to give up playing football in local leagues. In 1981 he was selected as a linesman for the Northern League,[3] and went on to referee in that league a year later. In 1984 he was appointed to the list of linesmen for the Football League, then became a supplementary referee for that league in 1985. He was further promoted to the full Football League list in 1988. His first match after this promotion was in the old Football League Third Division on 27 August 1988, the game between Mansfield Town and Northampton Town, which finished 1-1.

In September 1987 he had been given duties as linesman for a UEFA Cup match in Dundee, and in 1991 was selected to run the line for Keith Hackett in the European Cup semi-final first leg at the Stade Vélodrome between Marseille and Spartak Moscow. This finished 3-1, with Marseille progressing to the Final after the second leg. Wilkie would step up to handle his first European game as referee in the Anglo-Italian Cup tie between Ancona and Charlton in November 1993.

He was included in the list of Premier League referees towards the end of the 1992-93 season, handling his first game in that competition (and sending off his first Premiership player, the away side's Tony Cascarino) on 24 March 1993, when Leeds United drew 1-1 at home to Chelsea at Elland Road.[4]

He was notably the referee during the match between Crystal Palace and Manchester United at Selhurst Park on 25 January 1995, when Eric Cantona of United performed a kung fu-style two-footed kick towards a group of spectators as he was leaving the field following his sending off for deliberately kicking Palace's Richard Shaw four minutes into the second half of the game. According to The Guardian, the senior police officer at the match, Chief Superintendent Terry Collins, said Cantona would be "interviewed by police during the next 48 hours". He added: "I've never seen anything like it in my life...There could have been a riot." The Football Association told The Guardian: "It is our responsibility to ensure that actions that damage the game are punished severely. The FA will live up to that responsibility."[5] That they did, and Cantona received an eight-month ban from all football activities.[6] However, referee Wilkie had no idea at all about what had gone on, as he was talking to United's Andy Cole at the time: "It was only in the dressing room that one of the assistants told me what he (Cantona) had done."[3]

At the end of that season, on 6 May 1995, Wilkie found it necessary to report the entire Norwich City team, including its substitutes, after a "mass protest" following the award of a penalty to Leeds United in the 80th minute of a match which would determine whether City were relegated from the Premier League or not. If successful, the spot kick would mean that a draw was likely, not enough for Norwich to stay up. In the event, Leeds scored a second goal on 90 minutes to send the 'Canaries' down.[7] Wilkie was quoted in The Independent following the game. "All the Norwich team will be reported, I won't be isolating any one player," he said. "That would be impossible because they were all around me, even the reserve goalkeeper." Gary Megson, the Norwich manager at the time, said: "Leeds did not beat us today, the referee did."[8]

On 27 February 2000, Wilkie stepped out for what should have been the most prestigious domestic appointment of his career, the Football League Cup Final between Leicester City and Tranmere Rovers at Wembley.[9] However, with just over an hour played, he suffered a calf muscle injury and had to be replaced by Phil Richards, the fourth official on that day. From that point, the two major decisions required of Richards and his assistant, Wendy Toms, were the disallowing of a goal for Tranmere in the 13th minute by David Kelly (a former Leicester player) due to offside, and the dismissal of Clint Hill of Tranmere in the 64th minute for a tackle from behind on Emile Heskey. The match finished 2-1 to Leicester.[10][11]

As well as being the first Premier League referee to handle 100 games in that competition, Wilkie took charge of 10 European games and a total of 456 League matches.[12] He retired from refereeing in the year 2000[1] after his final Premiership match, the game between Manchester United and Spurs at Old Trafford on 6 May 2000, when the home side won 3-1.[13]


Since finishing as an on-field official, Wilkie has fulfilled the role of Regional Refereeing Manager for the North East of England, being employed by The Football Association. He also acts as a match delegate for the Football League and the Premier League, overseeing all aspects of the match and the venue he is appointed to.[1] currently employed as Top referee Instructor for Japan Football Association working in Tokyo

In October 2003, he was part of a team conducting a "workshop for Senior Referees" in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, on behalf of CONCACAF (The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football), and in conjunction with the English FA.[14]

Life outside football[edit]

Wilkie is married to Margaret, and has two sons. He is self-admittedly a Newcastle United fan, and his other hobbies and interests include music, crosswords and driving.[1] He worked for British Telecom as an electrical engineer for thirty years, combining that with refereeing, until taking up his present post with the FA.[3]

In 2002, Wilkie published his autobiography, "One Night at the Palace: A Referee's Story", co-written with George Miller.[15]



  • One Night at the Palace: A Referee's Story, Alan Wilkie & George Miller, Parrs Wood Press 2002, ISBN 1-903158-35-4


  1. ^ a b c d e Biographical detail: profile.
  2. ^ Regional Refereeing Manager (North East) for the Football Association: Official website.
  3. ^ a b c More biographical detail: article at The Northern Echo website.
  4. ^ First ever Premiership match, Leeds v. Chelsea, 1993: website.
  5. ^ Cantona's kick, Crystal Palace 1 Man United 1, 1995: article at the Guardian Unlimited website.
  6. ^ Mention of Cantona's punishment: article at The Independent website, via the FindArticles service.
  7. ^ Leeds v. Norwich, statistical details: website.
  8. ^ Mass protest by players and subs, Norwich City at Leeds, 1995: article at The Independent website, via the FindArticles service.
  9. ^ League Cup Final 2000, statistical details: website.
  10. ^ League Cup Final 2000, detailed match report: BBC News website.
  11. ^ League Cup Final 2000, alternative match report: article at The Independent website, via the FindArticles service.
  12. ^ Career information[dead link]: from a West Riding Coaches Association promotional document (cached HTML version).
  13. ^ Last match before retiring, Man United v. Spurs, 2000: website.
  14. ^ Workshop for Senior Referees, Trinidad & Tobago, 2003: website.
  15. ^ "One Night at the Palace: A Referee's Story": Alan Wilkie, written with George Miller, Parrs Wood Press 2002. ISBN 1-903158-35-4: website.

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