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Atkinson to take charge

MARTIN ATKINSON will take charge of Manchester United's FA Cup clash with Liverpool on Saturday -- his first appointment to a United game since Alex Ferguson received a five-match touchline ban for criticising the Yorkshire official last season.

Ferguson was fined £30,000 by the English FA and issued with his ban after he condemned Atkinson's performance in the wake of his team's 2-1 defeat at Chelsea last March.

By claiming that United wanted a "fair referee" following the defeat, Ferguson was judged to have cast doubt over Atkinson's integrity, prompting the FA to act.

Atkinson has been conspicuous by his absent from United fixtures since then, but the FA have now handed him a game which threatens to be overshadowed by the Luis Suarez-Patrice Evra row that led to the Liverpool forward being banned for eight games for racially abusing United's captain.

Irish Independent