• Dan Tracey


Mike Dean

When it comes to the men in the middle, it is fair to say that the Premier League’s Mike Dean is currently the one with the highest profile and although he is responsible for courting controversy on the field, that is where such controversy should be left behind.

Admittedly the actions of Dean have a habit of infuriating supporters up and down the country or even across the world and you only need to look at the decisions he made as referee in the past week, as evidence of such umbrage.

For Southampton fans, the ire towards Dean was generated after his decision to send off Jan Bednarek against Manchester United and although it was little help at the time, the Saints would eventually win an appeal so that their defender was available for last Saturday’s trip to Newcastle.

While fast forward to that very day and once again the highly public Tranmere Rovers fan was courting controversy once more and with a baffling decision to send off West Ham’s Tomas Soucek ending the Hammers 0-0 away draw with Fulham, more disgruntlement would follow.

Disgruntlement that understandably come from West Ham manager David Moyes, who in the post-match press conferences would say that he was embarrassed at witnessing such a decision against his player.

While also understandably, the former Everton and Manchester United manager stated that appeal against Soucek’s marching orders would follow and somewhat unsurprisingly, this has also been rescinded.

Which means two controversial decisions have found not to be worth any merit and although referee’s do make mistakes, to make two perceived blunders in the space of three days is not a good look for any official.

However, these same referees are human just like everybody else and what they certainly do not deserve are death threats to either themselves or their loved ones, something that has recently happened to the 52-year-old Dean.

The fallout from this, is that not only have the relevant policing authorities been notified, but Dean has also been stood down from any Premier League officiating duties this weekend, albeit at his own request.

A move that can only be deemed sensible after the maelstrom that has been created in the past few days and although many will have voiced consternation when sending offs were made, that same large majority will now be ready to offer their full support.

Without officials there is no game and that is something that is often overlooked when discussing the game as a whole and those in charge of the top flight referees in this country have also been quick to offer their condemnation to such recent events.

Professional Game Match Officials Limited managing director Riley said:

"Threats and abuse of this nature are totally unacceptable and we fully support Mike's decision to report these messages his family received to the police."

"Nobody should be victim of abhorrent messages like this. Online abuse is unacceptable in any walk of life and more needs to be done to tackle the problem."

Of course, this is set among the wider backdrop of players suffering online abuse after performing on the pitch and suddenly the issue of how to tackle the digital trolls, is now becoming one that all corners of football are going to have to tackle.

Due to anonymity afforded to those who perform such cowardly acts, the battle will not be an easy one. However, with the right deterrent and more importantly education on offer, this is still a battle can be won in the end.

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