It has been a busy few days for Staffordshire Referee Simon Bennett, who shortly after receiving the fantastic news that he has been appointed to this season’s FA Cup Final, then received some additional exciting news that he has been selected to represent England in this summer’s UEFA European Championship.
But before attention turns to this summer’s Euros, Simon will have the honour of being involved in the 2021 Emirates FA Cup Final, as Chelsea face Leicester City at Wembley on Saturday 15 May, when the teams will be led out by referee Michael OIiver, along with his assistant referees Stuart Burt and Staffordshire’s Simon Bennett.
It’s the second time that the trio will oversee an Emirates FA Cup Final, following Oliver’s appointment for the 2018 Final when Chelsea beat Manchester United, while Burt officiated in the 2012 edition and Bennett was involved two years later.
The fourth official at Wembley this year will be Paul Tierney, with Dan Cook named as reserve assistant referee. The video assistant referee (VAR) will be Chris Kavanagh, with Sion Massey-Ellis making history alongside him following her appointment as assistant VAR – the first female official to be involved in the competition’s Final.
"We unanimously agreed that Michael Oliver should referee the 2021 Emirates FA Cup Final, assisted by Stuart Burt and Simon Bennett who work regularly with him in the Premier League and internationally,” said David Elleray, chair of Referees’ Committee.
"We’ve appointed a very experienced and strong team and Michael, Stuart and Simon, have the rare honour in modern times of officiating in a second FA Cup Final – an honour which they richly deserve.”
Staffordshire FA caught up with Simon last week to get his reaction on these two fantastic appointments, and to also ask him if he can capture a diary of his day at the Cup Final for us to share across our refereeing network, which he has kindly agreed to do.
Simon commented: “Being appointed to any final is a fantastic honour for all of the members of the refereeing team and I am very happy to be working alongside Michael and Stuart who I regularly work with. We work together as a trio in most domestic matches as well as every game abroad, so to share this moment with them both is a real privilege.
“Like last year, due to the ongoing pandemic, this year’s final will be a different experience to the one in 2015, but I am looking forward to it equally as much. The FA Cup is the oldest and most historic inter-club competition in the world and words cannot express how humbled I am to be appointed to this match as an Assistant Referee for the second time.
“Then less than 24 hours after receiving the unexpected call regarding the FA Cup Final, I received the news that I was selected to represent England as an Assistant Referee at this summer’s Euro 2020 Tournament. Again, I cannot explain how honoured I am to have been chosen for this competition.
“Operating at the top-level week in and week out as well as being selected for these two special occasions is a fantastic achievement, but I must pay tribute to all of the people who have supported me over the years and helped me to reach the elite level. Without the help and guidance of my colleagues and the support of my family I would not have reached the level that I have and for that I am extremely grateful.
“That's what makes my job so rewarding – not only do my achievements reflect well upon myself but also my family, friends and the wider footballing community who have supported me along the way. I must also make mention of Staffs FA, who have been a constant support network and positive influence upon my development.”
We wish Simon all the very best for the Cup Final and the Euros and we look forward to sharing his experiences with our refereeing network, which will undoubtedly be an inspiring read for officials at all level across Staffordshire, and hopefully encourage others to get involved in refereeing in Staffordshire too.
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