Sunday 21 July 2013
Anthony Taylor has spoken of his excitement and honour at being named the referee for the final of the Barclays Asia Trophy.
The only Premier League-sanctioned competition outside England kicks off on 24 July with Tottenham Hotspur taking on Sunderland, then Manchester City facing Hong Kong champions South China, all in Hong Kong Stadium. The two losing teams face each other three days later before a sell-out crowd immediately before the final between the two winners from Wednesday.
"It will be interesting to see how the players deal with the conditions. Hydration will be important"
For Taylor, it will be his first trip to Hong Kong and he is intrigued about taking charge of players he knows well but in an unfamiliar setting.
"It's a great honour to be chosen to officiate the Barclays Asia Trophy final,” he said. “I am very excited. I have been abroad on several occasions but this is my first time in Hong Kong so it will be a different experience.
“With Premier League teams being involved it will be interesting to see how they cope with the conditions out there, how the players adapt but hydration issues will be one of the main important things.”
Off the pitch a lot of cooperation will be taking place between Premier League referees and their counterparts from Hong Kong and this will be replicated for the matches. The first match between Spurs and Sunderland will be officiated by Hong Kong’s top referee, Kwok Man Liu, who will be assisted by fellow FIFA-listed officials Chun Kit Chow and Chi Ho Lam.
Taylor will take charge of City against South China, working with FIFA-listed assistants Ron Ganfield and Mick McDonough to help recreate the highest standards familiar to fans of the Barclays Premier League.
On the Saturday, Taylor’s colleague and fellow FIFA referee Neil Swarbrick will officiate the third-place play-off, where McDonough and Lam will work together to assist him. For the final, Taylor will be assisted by Ganfield and Chow.
The likely humidity will not be new for Taylor, who experienced similar conditions when in Japan three years ago as part of an exchange programme the PGMO has with the Japanese FA, where Premier League referees officiate in J-League matches. It was a challenge Taylor relished.
"It was very interesting because of the different culture, and the way of treating their players was very different to how you treat them in England," he said. "The people management skills are very different. It is difficult for the players to maintain eye contact with you. The heat and humidity was another challenge. One match I did had 95 per cent humidity."
Taylor and his colleagues will be busy off the pitch in Hong Kong as part of Premier Skills, a programme run by the Premier League and the British Council to improve the levels of refereeing around the world. Taylor and Swarbrick will hold workshops with local officials for three days while the two assistants will be giving lessons on management of offside decisions before a community event on Wednesday 27 July.
Then they will be joined by Mike Riley, head of the PGMO, to give a presentation to more than 200 referees and officials supplied by the Asian Football Confederation, as part of the relationship with the AFC to improve standards of refereeing. These officials are keen to learn from Premier League officials, for whom their respect is evident, according to Taylor.
"People in Asia view Premier League referees very positively"
"People in Asia view Premier League referees very positively," he said. "Because of the profile of the Premier League and the standard, people know a lot more about the English game and referees than we give them credit for.
"We are seen almost as the leading lights by our foreign counterparts in terms of development and training. There is almost an expectation because of the League's profile that the refs will be some of the best around. The statistics prove that as a group we are, as well as having eight of the Select Group on the FIFA international list.”
The most recent English addition to the FIFA list was Taylor himself, in January, and he is aware of the pressure to maintain the high standards of Premier League referees during the Barclays Asia Trophy in Hong Kong. "People are looking to us to set an example that they can follow," he said.
A limited number of tickets are still available for semi-finals day on 24 July and can be bought here.
Tottenham Hotspur v Sunderland
Referee: Kwok Man Liu; assistants: Chun Kit Chow, Chi Ho Lam; fourth official: Chiu Kok Ng (all Hong Kong FA); fifth official: Neil Swarbrick (Premier League)
Manchester City v South China
Referee: Anthony Taylor; assistants: Ron Ganfield, Mick McDonough; fourth official: Neil Swarbrick (all Premier League); fifth official: Chiu Kok Ng (Hong Kong FA)
Referee: Neil Swarbrick; assistant: Mick McDonough, Chi Ho Lam; fourth official: Kwok Man Liu; fifth official: Anthony Taylor.
Referee: Anthony Taylor; Assistants: Ron Ganfield, Chun Kit Chow; fourth official: Neil Swarbrick; fifth official: Chiu Kok Ng.