Saturday 21 July 2018

Self-confessed Leicester fan Kevin Friend taken off Spurs game after social media outcry

Referee Kevin Friend
Referee Kevin Friend

Simon Jennings

The Premier League have replaced self-confessed Leicester City fan Kevin Friend with referee Neil Swarbrick for Tottenham Hotspurs' clash with Stoke City, following an outcry on social media.

Spurs are second in the table, seven points behind leaders Leicester City ahead of the North London club's visit to Stoke on Sunday.

Leicester will seal their maiden top-flight title if they win three of their next five games, while Spurs are chasing a first league title since 1961.

The Professional Game Match Officials Ltd (PGMOL) do not pick Friend, who lives in Leicester, to oversee Foxes' games, but do not usually consider factors such as a referee officiating a game that could have implications for the club he supports.

"Kevin Friend, initially selected for the game, is from Leicester and has attended matches at Leicester City in a personal capacity," a statement to the Daily Mail said.

"Given the context of this match, it was felt unnecessary to add extra scrutiny on the refereeing appointment."


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