Ashton referee set for Premier League debut
Tuesday 4th April 2017 @ 07:13 by Adam Higgins
Ashton Football Sports

A Football League referee from Ashton-under-Lyne will experience his first taste of the big time this weekend, for what will be the biggest match of his career so far.

Chris Kavanagh, who hails from Manchester but lives in Tameside, will make his Premier League debut when taking charge of West Bromwich Albion’s game against Southampton and it will be no doubt be the proudest moment of his 19 years of officiating when he steps out at the Hawthorns on Saturday (kick-off 15:00 BST).

It will be the 35th match in the middle this season for the highly-rated 30-year-old, in which he has brandished 111 yellow cards, sent off two players and awarded five penalties overall.

Kavanagh quit his day job as Referee Development Manager at Manchester County FA last summer to take up refereeing full-time and be part of Select Group 2 – which consists of 18 professional referees who primarily officiate in the Championship in an attempt to drive up standards.

One of his most high-profile career appointments to date was his one and only appearance at Wembley Stadium, as fourth official for Glossop North End’s defeat by North Shields in the final of the FA Vase in May 2015.

Kavanagh has been a regular in front of the Sky Sports cameras since being promoted to the Football League at the start of 2014-15 and has taken charge of six televised games this term – including his first East Midlands derby in Derby’s 3-0 win over Nottingham Forest in December and, most recently, Brighton’s 3-0 win over Derby last month.

He has already had a taste of what’s to come having previously encountered Premier League teams in cup competitions and has been fourth official for a number of top-flight games.

Kavanagh, who has received 23 Championship matches so far in 2016-17, will also be familiar to Southampton as he prepares to oversee Claude Puel’s side for the third time this term.

He hit the headlines in October after sending Sunderland boss David Moyes to the stands during their fourth-round defeat at St Mary’s for swearing at fourth official James Adcock – who refereed Curzon Ashton’s FA Cup defeat by Wimbledon earlier in the season.

It later emerged in a post-match interview that, when asked by a reporter, Moyes had no idea who Kavanagh was.

Kavanagh then issued two yellow cards and awarded Norwich a penalty in Saints’ 2-2 draw at Carrow Road in an FA Cup third round tie in January – but it will be his first match involving Tony Pulis’s Baggies.

He will be assisted in the West Midlands by experienced Select Group linesmen Peter Kirkup (Northamptonshire) and Adam Nunn (Wiltshire), with Bobby Madley – who himself will oversee Everton’s game against Leicester at Goodison Park on Sunday – taking up the role of fourth official.

Kavanagh will hope to have a quieter debut than Madley, who sent off three players in his first top-flight match between the same two clubs – Southampton and West Brom – at St Mary’s in April 2013.

It is considered to be a trial game but, should Kavanagh impress the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), which oversees referees, there may be more to follow and even a promotion on the cards having already hugely impressed in the Football League.


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Established: Kavanagh first took up the whistle at the age of 13 in 1998 and has more than 80 Football League games under his belt in this his third season on the National List