Honour for Abi as she gets appointment to referee showpiece Women’s FA Cup final

Suffolk official Abi Byrne, who is to referee this season�s SSE Women�s FA Cup Final.

Suffolk official Abi Byrne, who is to referee this season�s SSE Women�s FA Cup Final. - Credit: Archant

Suffolk official Abi Byrne is looking forward to ‘making my family and friends proud’ after being appointed to referee this season’s SSE Women’s FA Cup Final, writes Nick Garnham.

Abi, who celebrates her 27th birthday on Friday, will be in the middle for the final between Manchester City and West Ham United at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, May 4.

The showpiece occasion, which kicks-off at 5.30pm, will be broadcast live on BBC One.

Her assistant referees will be Sian Massey-Ellis and Melissa Burgin. The Fourth Official will be Lisa Benn.

Abi, who lives in Mildenhall, said: “I found out about the appointment in a phone call from Peter Elsworth, the Senior Referee Manager at The FA.

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“I couldn’t believe it once he told me and it still hasn’t sunk in yet!

“This is definitely the biggest highlight of my career so far. It’s the biggest game in women’s football in this country and it makes it even more special that I am able to lead the teams out at Wembley, our national stadium.”

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Previously known by her maiden name of Abi Marriott, she was an assistant referee at the SSE Women’s FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium two years ago.

She said: “I definitely think being on the cup final before at Wembley will help me prepare and hopefully I can draw on this experience to calm the nerves before kick-off!”

Abi, who refereed Lowestoft Town’s match at home to Stratford in the Evo-Stik League South Premier division Central on Saturday, added: “I am most looking forward to making my family and friends proud and trying to soak up as much of the atmosphere as well!

“I have a great team around me so I’m sure we will put in a good performance.”

Suffolk FA Senior Referee Development Officer Alan Dale said: “This is an outstanding appointment for Abi and she should be very proud of being selected to officiate the 2019 SSE Women’s Cup Final.

“She continues to be a role model for aspiring officials and through her work within the county by mentoring other referees and through supporting local Referees’ Association’s, this appointment will only serve to continue to encourage those around her.”

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