Premier League referee Kevin Friend has been taken off duty for Tottenham’s match at Stoke City on Monday because he supports leaders Leicester City.
Friend was initially allocated the match, but Professional Game Match Officials Ltd (PGMOL), the body that oversees refereeing appointments in the Premier League, decided to remove him given Tottenham are Leicester’s closest challengers for the title – sitting seven points shy of Claudio Ranieri’s men with five games to play.
Neil Swarbrick will take charge of Stoke versus Spurs, with Friend now turning his attentions towards the match between Newcastle United and Manchester City next Tuesday.
“PGMOL has made the decision to change the referee for the match between Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur as Kevin Friend, initially selected for the game, is from Leicester and has attended matches at Leicester City in a personal capacity,” a statement from the organisation read.
“Given the timing and context of this match, it was felt unnecessary to add extra scrutiny on the refereeing appointment.
“Neil Swarbrick will referee the match and Friend will referee Newcastle United vs Manchester City.”