By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Martin Atkinson will take charge of Newcastle United's opening day Premier League fixture at home against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday (5.30pm kick-off).
The Yorkshire-based official refereed three Magpies fixtures last term - a pair of victories over Blackburn and Liverpool on Tyneside, and the December defeat away at Norwich. He sent off a player in each one of those games, with Martin Olsson, Dan Gosling and Pepe Reina all seeing receiving their marching orders.
In total during the 2011/12 campaign, Atkinson was appointed to 40 games, handing out 146 yellow cards and 11 red.
Having started refereeing at the age of 16 in his local Bradford leagues, Atkinson rose through the leagues and was appointed to his first top flight fixture in April 2005, as Manchester City took on Birmingham City.
He has grown in stature to be regarded as one of the country's top referees and in recent years has overseen the 2006 FA Community Shield between Liverpool and Chelsea, as well as the 2011 FA Cup Final which saw Manchester City defeat Stoke.
Atkinson, aged 41, has also run the rule over numerous World Cup and European Championships qualifiers and Champions League fixtures.
On Saturday at the Sports Direct Arena, Peter Kirkup and Stuart Burt will be Atkinson's assistants, with Lee Mason the game's fourth official.