Mike Dean and Stuart Attwell find themselves in the Championship this weekend – out of respect to the competition.
Dean is in charge of Saturday’s Yorkshire derby between Barnsley and Leeds while, on the Friday night, Attwell presides over Brighton versus Sheffield Wednesday. Both games are live on television in front of potentially near capacity crowds and a substantial viewing audience. All four teams involved are pushing towards the top of the Championship.
Although Dean has been at the centre of controversy recently, his absence from the top flight this weekend is in no way a reflection of that.
The latest round of Premier League fixtures is relatively low profile, giving an opportunity for two Select Group referees to be deployed in major games in a much respected competition.
“This is standard practice and in no way reflects on Mike – or Stuart, for that matter,” said former referees’ chief Keith Hackett.
“I am all for more accountability and feel this is lacking.
“However, Mike has come through two games, one in the FA Cup, relatively well since the controversial calls of the West Ham v Manchester United match.
“He is an excellent referee and the Premier League needs him. But I can understand his redeployment this weekend.
“I also applaud Stuart Attwell’s appointment for a huge game in Brighton v Sheffield Wednesday.
“No-one should get the idea either has been dropped or demoted.
“When that happens they are usually a fourth official somewhere – certainly not refereeing games of this magnitude.”