Unpopular choice? Martin Atkinson to referee Sunderland vs Manchester City Capital One Cup final

Paolo Di Canio, left, is sent to the stands by referee Martin Atkinson.

Paolo Di Canio, left, is sent to the stands by referee Martin Atkinson.

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MARTIN Atkinson will referee Sunderland’s Capital One Cup Final against Manchester City at Wembley on March 2.

The announcement of Atkinson’s appointment will not have been greeted with any cheer by many Black Cats fans, who still feel angry over his refereeing performance at the Stadium of Light last September.

Atkinson was the man in the middle, who disallowed a perfectly good goal for Jozy Atlidore, having already blown up for a foul by Backary Sagna on the American.

The Arsenal man was booked for his actions and Sunderland wasted the subsequent free-kick.

Home fans, and then manager Paolo Di Canio, were infuriated that Atkinson did not play the advantage, had he done so Altidore would have had a crucial goal in a game which finished 3-1 to the Gunners

Di Canio’s frustration boiled over in stoppage time as Arsenal delayed making a substitution and he was ordered to leave his technical area by Atkinson when he mocked the referee’s performance during a brief exchange on the touchline.

Di Canio said after the game: “The referee told me: ‘If you keep going with your manner I’ll send you up to the stand,’

“My mistake was that I said to him: ‘If you want to complete a perfect job you only have to send me off.’ He said: ‘Go off.’”

Di Canio was later fined by the Football Association, and threatened with a touchline if such behaviour continued in the future.

Sunderland fans still in joyful mood after their side’s midweek penalty shoot-out win over Manchester United at Old Trafford, which booked their place at Wembley, will no doubt have groaned at the announcement that Atkinson will be the man in the middle for the final.