Whatever else anyone might claim, it is the biggest match of your career as you only referee the final once, you are desperate not to make a mess of it. People are often surprised to learn that you can only do it once but I thoroughly approve of the principle. It is such a special occasion that [...] it would never be as good the second time round. I strongly believe that no one should have all the big games and those who have shown themselves capable of refereeing at the highest level should receive the highest accolade of doing the Cup Final.
Referees and assistants are chosen by the Football Association for their impartiality and their assessed performance scores for previous seasons. Only one referee has ever been replaced under the impartiality rule; Mike Dean agreed to pull out following questions in the media about him being able to referee a Cup Final involving Liverpool as he is from the Wirral, a peninsula situated near the city. Alan Wiley took his place.
Officials are informed of the appointment by the FA Referees' Secretary and sworn to secrecy until a public announcement can be made, usually the following day. There then follows a period of media attention resulting in interviews and features appearing in the national press.
When the Cup Final is held at Wembley Stadium, traditions include the "Eve of the Final" rally at the Russell Hotel, where the match officials are guests of honour at a meal provided for by the Referees' Association. Many members of the Association including serving referees also attend.
Speeches are made and the officials are presented with mementos of the occasion and invited to autograph their refereeing colleagues' Cup Final programmes. The referees usually sleep at White's Hotel, with FA protocol stating that they should not leave the grounds.
On the morning of the Cup Final, the officials take a pre-match walk through Hyde Park before travelling by limousine to Wembley. Once there they are obliged once more to autograph Cup Final programmes and are invited to join any VIPs in the banqueting hall.
^Original refereeWirral-based referee Mike Dean was removed from the final after Liverpool made it through to the final. He was replaced by Premier League Select Group Referee, Alan Wiley.
^Original assistant referee Peter Kirkup woke up with a stye in his eye on the morning of the match, which affected his vision. He was replaced by Premier League Select Group Assistant Ref, Ceri Richards.