Martin Atkinson

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Martin Atkinson
Martin Atkinson.jpg
Atkinson in October 2014
Full name Martin Atkinson
Born (1971-03-31) 31 March 1971 (age 44)
Bradford, West Yorkshire, England
Years League Role
1998–2000 Football League Assistant referee
2000–2003 Premier League Assistant referee
2002–2003 Football Conference Referee
2003–2005 Football League Referee
2005– Premier League Referee
Years League Role
2006– FIFA listed Referee

Martin Atkinson (born 31 March 1971) is an English professional football referee who officiates primarily in the Premier League and also for FIFA. He was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire, but is now based in nearby Leeds, and is a member of the West Riding County Football Association.[1]

Atkinson made his first appearance as an official in the Football League as an assistant referee in 1995. Since he was promoted to the list of Select Group Referees in 2005 he has refereed a number of notable matches, including the FA Community Shield and the finals of the FA Trophy, Football League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Europa League.


Atkinson started his refereeing career at the relatively early age of 16 years, as the local team did not have a referee to oversee matches. By 1998, he had been promoted to the Football League's list of assistant referees.

This was followed in 2000 by promotion to the Select Group of assistant referees. By December 2002 he was refereeing Football Conference matches,[2] and also refereed the 2003 FA County Youth Cup final.[3]

At the start of the 2003–04 season, Atkinson joined the national list of referees. He had the distinction of not sending off any player from the field of play between August 2004 and October 2005.

Only two years after his Conference debut, Atkinson was appointed to referee his first Premier League game, taking charge of the Manchester City-Birmingham City fixture on 20 April 2005, cautioning one player and awarding the home side a penalty kick in a 3–0 result.[4][5]

During the three seasons between 2003 and 2006, Atkinson issued only eight red cards in 102 matches, an average of less than 0.08 per game.

In 2006 Atkinson was appointed to the list of FIFA referees.[6]

The 2009–10 season saw Atkinson referee 48 matches in English football, his highest tally of appointments in one season to date.

2006 FA Community Shield[edit]

Atkinson refereed the 2006 FA Community Shield match at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Liverpool defeated Chelsea 2–1, with Atkinson issuing four yellow cards during the course of the game.[7]

13 August 2006
Chelsea 1–2 Liverpool
Shevchenko Goal 44'
Ballack Booked 7'
Lampard Booked 15'
Diarra Booked 68'
(Report) Riise Goal 9'
Crouch Goal 80'
Alonso Booked 61'
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Attendance: 56,275

2008 FA Trophy final[edit]

Atkinson was appointed to referee the 2008 FA Trophy Final at Wembley Stadium, which was contested between Ebbsfleet United and Torquay United.[8]

10 May 2008
Ebbsfleet United 1–0 Torquay United
McPhee Goal 45'
Smith Booked
McCarthy Booked
Moore Booked
Rice Booked
Wembley Stadium, London
Attendance: 40,186

2011 FA Cup final[edit]

Atkinson was appointed to officiate the 2011 FA Cup Final. Manchester City defeated Stoke City 1–0; Atkinson issued two yellow cards to two Stoke players during the match.

14 May 2011
Manchester City 1–0 Stoke City
Y. Touré Goal 74' Report Wilkinson Booked 76'
Huth Booked 40'
Wembley Stadium, London
Attendance: 88,643

2014 Football League Cup final[edit]

Atkinson refereed the 2014 Football League Cup Final between Manchester City and Sunderland. City won the match 3–1 and Atkinson cautioned two players, both late in the second half.

2 March 2014
Manchester City 3–1 Sunderland
Touré Goal 55'
Nasri Goal 56'
Navas Goal 90'
Negredo Booked 90'
Report Borini Goal 10'
Alonso Booked 90'
Wembley Stadium, London
Attendance: 84,697

Europe and international[edit]

On 13 October 2007, Atkinson refereed a group C qualifier for Euro 2008 between Moldova and Turkey. The game in the Moldovan capital Chişinău ended a 1–1 draw, with the referee showing two yellow cards.

Atkinson issues a yellow card during a fixture between Birmingham City and Arsenal in 2010

The 2008–09 season was the first that Atkinson took charge of UEFA Champions League games. That season he refereed four matches, including FC Zürich against Real Madrid and Inter Milan versus Dynamo Kiev.[9] In 2010 Atkinson was fourth official to Howard Webb for the Champions League final in Madrid. He issued his first Champions League red card on 5 April 2011, to Cristian Chivu of Inter Milan as they lost 5–2 at home to Schalke.

Atkinson officiated multiple matches during 2010 FIFA World Cup Qualification, including the UEFA group 4 qualifying game between Germany and Finland in Hamburg on 14 October 2009 which ended 1–1.[10] One month later, he officiated Portugal's 1–0 qualifying win over Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He officiated at Euro 2012 as an additional assistant referee in a team with referee Howard Webb.[11]

The referee abandoned a Euro 2016 qualifying match in Belgrade between Serbia and Albania on 14 October 2014 when violence on the pitch and crowd disturbances broke out after a quadcopter was flown over the pitch bearing a flag of Greater Albania.[12]


After the 2009 Manchester derby at Old Trafford, Atkinson was criticised by Manchester City's then-manager Mark Hughes for bad time-keeping after Manchester United had scored an injury-time winner. The fourth official had signalled four minutes of additional time, but Michael Owen scored a 96th-minute goal, handing United a dramatic 4–3 win.[13] Atkinson was defended by former referee Graham Poll, himself considered one of England's greatest officials,[14] who pointed out that during injury time itself there had been a goal celebration, a substitution and a delay caused by a fan on the pitch.[15] The incident led to City questioning the late appointment of Atkinson to the 2010 Manchester derby.[16]

In September 2010, Atkinson was handed a one-week demotion to the role of fourth official after a time-keeping dispute with Everton manager David Moyes. Everton had scored two injury-time goals to make the score 3–3 against Manchester United, but Atkinson then blew his final whistle while Everton were midway through an attack with a chance of a winner.[17]

In April 2010, Birmingham City central defender Roger Johnson censured Atkinson after the official awarded rivals Aston Villa a late penalty in the Second City derby, for an apparent foul by Johnson on Villa's Gabriel Agbonlahor. Television replays appeared to show Johnson had played the ball, and manager Alex McLeish also criticised the decision which gave Villa a 1–0 home win.[18]

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson censured Atkinson in March 2011 following his refereeing of United's away fixture with Chelsea. He called Chelsea's 80th-minute penalty award "very soft"; Frank Lampard converted the spot-kick to secure a 2–1 win for the hosts. Ferguson also felt that Atkinson should have issued a second yellow card to Chelsea defender David Luiz earlier in the second-half for an apparent trip on Wayne Rooney. It was not the first time Atkinson came under scrutiny after officiating this fixture; in the previous season Ferguson criticised him for awarding Chelsea a free-kick, from which captain John Terry scored the only goal of the game.[19]

On 1 October 2011, Atkinson came under fire for sending off Everton midfielder Jack Rodwell in the 23rd minute of a Merseyside derby at Goodison Park, which was ultimately won 2–0 by Liverpool. The official erroneously adjudged Rodwell to have committed a foul worthy of a straight red card, although replays suggested the player won the ball cleanly and safely from Liverpool forward Luis Suárez.[20] In a post-match interview, Everton manager David Moyes claimed the derby was "ruined" by the decision to send off Rodwell.[21]

After Atkinson dismissed Stoke City's Robert Huth for a first-half tackle on David Meyler in a snow-hit Premier League fixture against Sunderland on 4 February 2012, Stoke manager Tony Pulis attacked the referee's decision and Meyler for apparently simulating injury despite Huth making no contact in the challenge. Pulis said: "Robert skids in but doesn't touch the player. The referee hasn't taken the conditions into consideration. The player rolls around and stays down... to get him sent off. It's a disease that's creeping into the game." Sunderland's manager Martin O'Neill described Huth's tackle as a "nasty challenge"[22] and the Football Association later rejected a Stoke City appeal against the red card.[23]

On 15 April 2012, Atkinson awarded a so-called 'ghost goal' to Chelsea in the 49th minute of an FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium. Chelsea were 1–0 up when a Juan Mata shot was cleared from the goal-line, but Atkinson awarded a goal and Chelsea went on to defeat Spurs 5–1. Several Tottenham players publicly criticised Atkinson, while their manager Harry Redknapp said that the official had apologised to him for the error. Redknapp added: "It was an honest mistake by the referee but it was nowhere near the line. I don't see how he could give the goal. He must have guessed because he couldn't have been sure." The incident re-ignited the debate over introducing goal-line technology to assist referees.[24]


Season Games Total Booked Booked per game Total Red card Red card per game
2002/03 9 28 3.11 3 0.33
2003/04 26 61 2.34 3 0.11
2004/05 38 87 2.28 3 0.07
2005/06 38 78 2.05 2 0.05
2006/07 42 128 3.04 6 0.14
2007/08 42 109 2.60 6 0.14
2008/09 40 135 3.38 11 0.28
2009/10 48 187 3.90 6 0.13
2010/11 41 143 3.49 13 0.32
2011/12 40 146 3.65 11 0.28
2012/13 36 133 3.69 1 0.03
2013/14 39 118 3.03 3 0.08
Total 439 1,353 3.08 68 0.15

Statistics for all competitions. No records are available prior to 2002/03.[25]


  1. ^ Profile: the Football League official website. Retrieved on 16 April 2008
  2. ^ Football Conference referee, 2002: website. Retrieved on 16 April 2008
  3. ^ FA Youth Cup Final 2003: website. Retrieved on 16 April 2008
  4. ^ "Fulhamweb" Profile of Martin Atkinson. Retrieved on 16 April 2008.
  5. ^ Man.City v. Birmingham Fixture Details: RateTheRef website. Retrieved on 16 April 2008.
  6. ^ Appointment as FIFA referee, 2006: website. Retrieved on 16 April 2008
  7. ^ FA Community Shield 2006, Liverpool v. Chelsea: website. Retrieved on 16 April 2008
  8. ^ FA Trophy Final 2008, Ebbsfleet v. Torquay, referee: website. Retrieved on 16 April 2008.
  9. ^
  10. ^ FIFA World Cup qualifier, Germany v. Finland, referee: website. Retrieved on 27 November 2009.
  11. ^ "Euro 2012 Referees" (PDF). UEFA. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  12. ^ Serbia and Albania will be charged by UEFA RTÉ Sports, 2014-10-15.
  13. ^ Taylor, Daniel (21 September 2009). "Mark Hughes fumes at Manchester United's overtime winner". The Guardian (London). 
  14. ^
  15. ^ Poll, Graham. "GRAHAM POLL: Well done ref, you timed the Manchester derby just right — and United showed how City to play to the whistle". Daily Mail (London). 
  16. ^ Ogden, Mark (16 April 2010). "Manchester City v Manchester United: City question appointment of Martin Atkinson". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Ferguson angry at ref after loss". BBC News. 1 March 2011. 
  20. ^ "Everton 0-2 Liverpool". BBC News. 
  21. ^ "Moyes says referee 'ruined' derby". BBC News. 
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Howard Webb
FA Community Shield referee
Succeeded by
Mark Halsey
Preceded by
Chris Foy
FA Trophy Final referee
Succeeded by
Michael Jones
Preceded by
Chris Foy
FA Cup Final referee
Succeeded by
Phil Dowd
Preceded by
Felix Brych
UEFA Europa League Final referee
Succeeded by