The referee for the Brighton v Newcastle match on Tuesday night, is Robert Madley.
This is the same Robert Madley who fatally sabotaged Newcastle’s Premier League season and arguably provided the key moment that ended up relegating the club last May.
The 25 October 2015 saw Newcastle battering Sunderland, the first half was embarrassingly one-sided at the Stadium of Light, with it looking only a question of time before the Magpies got the opening goal, only for Robert Madley to somehow adjudge that Fabricio Coloccini had to go AND awarded a penalty – the FA later rescinded that red card decision.
Sunderland went one up, the game at that moment gifted to the Mackems and an eventual 3-0 scoreline, though Newcastle still looked the better team most of the second-half even with only 10 men. Considering only two points separated Newcastle and Sunderland at the end of the season, that derby defeat could be seen as pivotal in the relegation.
Robert Madley hasn’t refereed a Championship game all season but apparently has been given this crunch Brighton v Newcastle match because he will bring extra expertise as a Premier League regular.
However, it has now emerged that Robert Madley is actually a Huddersfield Town fan…yes, that Huddersfield Town who are currently only five points behind Newcastle (and six behind Brighton).
I’m not too impressed with having Madley as the referee anyway, after that derby disaster he presided over, but are Newcastle fans on social media correct in getting agitated because of his Huddersfield supporting tendencies?
I’m not sure – if it was Newcastle against a team lower in the table then clearly there would be a problem, if you believe referees are human and could end up in a compromising position when making decisions that would directly affect a club you support. If you are a Huddersfield fan, a draw is probably the best result with a point going astray, so difficult to see a Huddersfield supporting referee wanting either Newcastle or Brighton to win.
There didn’t used to be any rules but that isn’t the case now, with referees not allowed to take charge of games affecting the team they support.
In an article on BBC Sport Keith Hackett (the former head of Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), the organisation that makes refereeing appointments for Premier League games) explained
“At the beginning of every season the referees’ background information is audited.
“They complete a form that includes who they support, the history of if they’ve played the game and with the addresses where they are residing.
“That gives you a picture that comes into use when you’re appointing. It’s about ensuring, for example, you wouldn’t appoint a Sheffield-based ref for a Sheffield team.”
PGMOL says the process behind referee selection is all about avoiding “unnecessary extra external pressure and scrutiny on referees” in what is an “already a high pressure and demanding job”.
This is the list of referees and the clubs they support, as carried in that BBC Sport article, including Robert Madley:
Martin Atkinson – Leeds
Stuart Attwell – Luton
Mark Clattenburg – Newcastle
Mike Dean – Tranmere
Kevin Friend – Bristol City and Leicester
Simon Hooper – Swindon
Mike Jones – Chester
Robert Madley – Huddersfield
Andre Marriner – Aston Villa
Lee Mason – Bolton
Jon Moss – Sunderland
Michael Oliver – Newcastle
Craig Pawson – Sheffield United
Graham Scott – Swindon
Keith Stroud – Luton
Neil Swarbrick – Presto
Anthony Taylor – Altrincham
Paul Tierney – Wigan
Ironic that two of the best referees around, Clattenburg and Oliver, are not allowed to take Newcastle games.