Popular EPL referee Mike Dean has been asked to step down from the Premier League for the meantime after receiving abuse and death threats on social media after handing out two controversial red cards given to Southampton's Jan Bednarek and West Ham's Tomas Soucek in previous two games; Both decisions overturned on appeal.
The 52-year-old was criticised for sending off West Ham midfielder Tomas Soucek for violent conduct after he appeared to accidentally strike Aleksandar Mitrovic in the Hammers' 0-0 draw at Fulham on Saturday. That incident came just four days after Dean sent off Southampton defender Jan Bednarek for a challenge on Anthony Martial in the Saints' 9-0 thrashing at Manchester United. Both decisions have been overturned on appeal with Soucek now available for West Ham's FA Cup away trip to Manchester United on Tuesday evening as well as being available for the Premier League matches against Sheffield United and Tottenham.
In both cases, Dean chose to give a red card after being advised to view the incident on the pitchside monitor by the video assistant referee (VAR). Dean's family has also been targeted with social media abuse. All abuse has been reported to the police.
However, Dean is still going to referee Wednesday's FA Cup game between Leicester and Brighton where VAR will once again be in operation and operated by Graham Scott, with Dean's assistant referees Darren Cann and Timothy Wood. Dean may return to Premier League action the following weekend and if so, it is possible he could work alongside Lee Mason again as officials generally work in groups.
A Merseyside Police spokesperson said: "We can confirm officers are investigating allegations of malicious communications reported today, Monday 8 February. "The reports relate to social media accounts and enquiries are ongoing. We monitor the internet, and if we identify any offences we will take action. "Those who use the internet to target others, and who commit a criminal offence [eg hate crime/malicious communications], are not beyond the law - and can + will be investigated and brought to justice."