The Analyst: Which teams do the Premier League referees support?

Despite all the accusations of big-club bias, not one top-flight referee supports Manchester United or Liverpool. Swindon, however…

The appointment of referee David Coote for Manchester United's trip to Aston Villa this weekend has not gone down well with Villa supporters who still remember his last United game in charge.

United edged past West Brom 1-0 in November 2020 after Coote controversially went to VAR to reverse a decision to award a penalty against Bruno Fernandes.

It followed hot on the heels of further VAR controversy when Coote overlooked Jordan Pickford's savage assault on Virgil van Dijk in the Merseyside derby.

A fake Facebook bio featuring Coote on the pitch at Old Trafford has had rival fans pointing towards a United conspiracy involving the Professional Game Match Officials Limited who appoint referees to games.

However, with officials having to fill in a form ahead of the season including the team they support and where they live, accusations of bias are easily avoided.

Not all Premier League referees' allegiances are known, but some are a lot more open than others as Planet Sport finds out.

Martin Atkinson - Leeds United

Martin Atkinson, referee, Premier League, Thiago Alcantara

Born in Bradford and based in Leeds, Atkinson is a Leeds United supporter.

It has not stopped him taking charge of games involving bitter rivals Manchester United, however, with Atkinson regularly criticised by United fans for seemingly favouring their opposition. Their history with Atkinson actually dates back to 2003 when as a linesman he allowed a Thierry Henry goal to stand even though the striker appeared yards offside.

Most likely to be seen refereeing Liverpool: Atkinson has taken charge of 69 Liverpool matches.

Stuart Attwell - Luton Town

Stuart Atwell, Premier League, referee, Manchester City

Attwell hails from Nuneaton but is a Luton Town fan. Understandably, he has never officiated a Luton game but did make headlines in 2008 when he awarded a goal for Reading against their bitter rivals Watford despite the ball crossing the line outside the back post.

Most likely to be seen refereeing Wolves: Attwell has taken charge of 27 Wolves matches, seven more than the next two teams on his list, Newcastle and Brighton.

Peter Bankes - unknown

Peter Bankes, Premier League, Referee

It is not known who Lancashire-born Bankes supports. He began refereeing aged 14 in 1996 and is a coach and mentor within the Liverpool County Football Association. He has never officiated a match involving LiverpoolEverton or Tranmere.

Most likely to be seen refereeing Leeds: Bankes has refereed 17 Leeds games, dishing out 37 yellow cards to the Elland Road side.

John Brooks - unknown

John Brooks Nov21

Another to start refereeing aged 14, Asfordby referee Brooks only joined the Select Group at the start of the 2021/22 season. Affiliated to the Leicestershire and Rutland County Football Association, it is not known who he supports. However, he has never officiated a Leicester City game.

Most likely to be seen refereeing Grimsby Town: Brooks is only 249 games into his career but has refereed the Mariners 11 times.

David Coote - unknown

Newcastle argue over a penalty award with David Coote Aug21

Despite a fake Facebook bio appearing to state otherwise, it is not known who Nottinghamshire-based Coote supports. He has never officiated a game involving Nottingham Forest or Notts County, however.

Most likely to be seen refereeing Sheffield United or Wolves: Coote has refereed both sides 19 times.

Mike Dean - Tranmere

Mike Dean Tranmere fan May19

Based in Heswall on the Wirral there can be little doubt about Dean's allegiances thanks to a much-shared video following Tranmere's play-off semi-final win over Forest Green in 2019. Dean has followed Rovers home and away since the mid-1980s.

Most likely to be seen refereeing Manchester United: The 53-year-old has taken charge of 82 United games, dishing out 21 penalties to the Red Devils.

Darren England - Barnsley

Darren England Nov21

England, from Little Houghton, grew up supporting Barnsley and even worked for their Reds in the Community charity.

Promoted to the Select Group for 2021/22, his elevation came 16 years after he took charge of his first match in the Barnsley Sunday League as an 18-year-old - sending someone off for a headbutt.

Most likely to be seen refereeing Derby County: England has refereed the Rams 13 times.

Kevin Friend - Leicester City

Kevin Friend referee Dec21

Born in Bristol but based in Leicester, Friend was controversially dropped from Tottenham's Premier League game at Stoke in April 2016 due to Spurs being in title race with the Foxes.

Most likely to be seen refereeing Liverpool: Friend has taken charge of 36 Liverpool games, one more than their cross-city rivals Everton.

Jarred Gillett - unknown

Jarred Gillett Dec21

The Australian made history in September 2021 when he became the first non-British or Irish referee to take charge of a Premier League match. It is not known if the Gold Coast-born whistler supports a British side, however.

Most likely to be seen refereeing Blackburn Rovers: In his native Australia, Gillett has taken charge of 38 Melbourne Victory games. However, over here it is at Blackburn where he has been seen most regularly, taking charge of eight Rovers games.

Tony Harrington - Hartlepool

Tony Harrington Feb21

Grandson of Pools legend Tommy McGuigan, Harrington was one of the four referees promoted to the Select Group for the 2021/22 campaign.

Harrington began refereeing in the Teesside Junior Football Alliance at 14 having completed a basic refereeing course as part of the Duke of Edinburgh award.

Most likely to be seen refereeing Blackburn Rovers: Harrington has officiated in 21 games involving the Ewood Park side.

Simon Hooper - Swindon

Simon Hooper, Premier League, referee

A promising centre-forward, he was released by Swindon Town at the age of 16 after seven years at the club. Went on to play semi-professionally for Highworth Town and Swindon Supermarine.

Most likely to be seen refereeing Brighton: Hooper has been the man in the middle for 25 Brighton games, three more than nearest rival, Bournemouth.

Robert Jones - unknown

Robert Jones Aug21

Merseyside-based Jones is in his second season in the top flight. He has never taken charge of a first-team match involving Liverpool, Everton or Tranmere. However, he has refereed matches involving both Liverpool and Everton's under-23 sides.

Most likely to be seen refereeing Leeds United: Jones has overseen 12 games involving the Elland Road side.

Chris Kavanagh - unknown

Chris Kavanagh VAR call Man Utd Tottenham

Another referee for whom there is huge conjecture as to who he supports, with the whistler having been born in Manchester.

The fact that he has taken charge of eight United and seven City games means that despite the speculation, he does not follow one of the big teams. Suggestions that he supports Stalybridge Celtic have not been confirmed.

Most likely to be seen refereeing Leicester City: Kavanagh has taken charge of 20 Leicester matches, with the Foxes losing 11 of them.

Andy Madley - unknown

Andy Madley Nov21

The younger brother of former top-flight referee Bobby, Andy Madley's soccer allegiances are unknown. Was at the Huddersfield Town School of Excellence before joining his brother on a refereeing course at Altofts Cricket Club.

Has never refereed a Huddersfield Town game and it is known his brother is a supporter.

Most likely to be seen refereeing Preston: Madley has taken charge of 23 Preston games.

Andre Marriner - Aston Villa

Andre Marriner, Referee, Premier League

Andre Marriner hails from Birmingham and admits he is a fan of Aston Villa. "I go as much as I can and my two kids are season ticket holders."

It means he hasn't taken charge of games involving Villa or Birmingham, though he has refereed two West Brom matches.

Most likely to be seen refereeing Manchester City: Marriner has been in charge of 59 City games, two more than next highest, Liverpool.

Jon Moss - Sunderland

Jon Moss and Man City's Kyle Walker Sep21

Born in Sunderland, Moss is now based in Horsforth, Leeds. Played at academy level, firstly for his hometown club Sunderland and then for Millwall and went on to become a PE teacher in Leeds, where one of his pupils was James Milner. He later sent Milner off in a Premier League match in 2019.

Despite his Sunderland allegiances, he took charge of two Newcastle games in the 2009/10 Championship season.

Most likely to be seen refereeing Manchester United: Moss has officiated 42 games involving the Red Devils.

Michael Oliver - Newcastle

Michael Oliver, Premier League, referee,

From Ashington in Northumberland, Oliver is a Newcastle United fan and jokes that "every decision against Newcastle is a bad one".

He is not allowed to referee Newcastle or Sunderland games and will not be allowed to take charge of any games towards the end of the campaign involving any of the Magpies' relegation rivals.

Most likely to be seen refereeing Liverpool: With Liverpool are Newcastle fighting it out at opposite ends of the Premier League table, Oliver has been able to take charge of 49 games involving the Reds.

Craig Pawson - Sheffield United

Craig Pawson tops the list of referees for cards shown over Christmas

The 2015 League Cup final referee is based in South Yorkshire and is a fan of the Blades. The 42-year-old has never refereed a match involving United and Wednesday or South Yorkshire rivals Doncaster and Rotherham.

However, he was in charge of a solitary Barnsley game in 2013.

Most likely to be seen refereeing Leicester City: Pawson has taken charge of the Foxes 34 times.

Michael Salisbury - unknown

Michael Salisbury Sep21

Salisbury, from Penwortham, started refereeing in the local leagues in Preston in 2001 after being inspired by his dad Graham, who has just retired after 588 Football League games.

The former PE teacher's soccer allegiances are not known but his Preston base means he has never taken charge of a game involving the Lilywhites.

Most likely to be seen refereeing Coventry City: Salisbury has taken charge of 13 Sky Blues games and they have yet to lose with him in the middle.

Graham Scott - Swindon

Graham Scott Sep21

A former goalkeeper with Abingdon Town, Scott was promoted to the Select Group in 2015.

Living in Oxford, Scott is unable to referee the Robins or the U's.

Most likely to be seen refereeing Brighton: Scott has taken charge of 22 matches involving the Seagulls, with Southampton next best on 21.

Anthony Taylor - Altrincham

Anthony Taylor, referee. Premier League

Taylor lives just six miles from Old Trafford and his appointments for games involving Manchester United often draws the ire of rival supporters.

However, the 43-year-old from Wythenshawe is as neutral as they come, being a fan of non-league Altrincham.

Most likely to be seen refereeing Liverpool: Taylor has taken charge of 47 games involving the Reds, with Liverpool losing just nine of them. For comparison's sake, in 38 games in charge of Manchester United, the Red Devils have lost 10.

Paul Tierney - Wigan

Jurgen Klopp Paul Tierney Liverpool Tottenham Dec21

Wigan-born Tierney is a fan of the League One club and also the stepdad of former Wigan Warriors and Leigh Centurions winger Lewis Tierney.

Most likely to be seen refereeing Watford: Tierney has overseen 24 games involving the Hornets.

Least likely to be seen refereeing Liverpool following a recent bust-up with Jurgen Klopp which had the Reds manager claiming Tierney had a "problem" with him.

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