The referee for our opening fixture of the 2018-19 campaign will be Robert Jones – a regular official of Sky Bet Championship matches since last November.
After first refereeing at this level at the back end of the 2016-17 campaign, Jones stepped up to oversee 20 Championship games last term and joined the ‘Select Group 2 Match Officials’ list earlier this year.
Our Friday-night fixture against the Rams will be the first competitive game he has overseen since running out at Wembley at the end of May, as Rotherham defeated Shrewsbury at the national stadium to step back up to the second tier. Two years prior, Jones had overseen the National League Play-off Final as Grimsby overcame Forest Green.
The yellow card was brandished 132 times in 45 games refereed last season – an average of almost three per fixture. Eight times he had to dismiss players… most recently to send off Sunderland stopper Jason Steele for handling outside his area when they visited QPR.
The Merseyside-born ref has twice overseen Royals fixtures. The first was in January as a Jón Daði Böðvarsson brace and one for Chris Gunter helped Reading to a 3-1 win in Burton; the second, also in the West Midlands, ended in a 3-0 Wolves win in March.
Conversely, this will be the first time that Jones has refereed a fixture featuring Derby County – as well as being his first visit to Madejski Stadium.
Assisting Mr Jones as linesmen for the evening fixture will be Nigel Lugg and Michael George, while Stephen Martin will be manning the fourth official’s board.