In a shocking admission, former top referee Mike Dean has owned up to shielding pal Anthony Taylor from further grief over an egregious 96th minute decision that denied Chelsea a famous win.
As Tottenham grabbed an incredible stoppage time equalizer against their London rivals, TV replays showed a clear shirt pull in the buildup — but Taylor and VAR failed to intervene.
And now Dean, in the hotseat as VAR official that day, has spilled the beans on why. Citing Taylor’s tough assignments sending Conte and Tuchel to the showers, Dean didn’t want to pile on the pressure by sending his “mate” to review his major mistake.
It was a massive error that let Spurs off the hook. But in a bid to protect Taylor from extra wrath, Dean famously flubbed the obvious foul, blowing off a clear red card.
The bombshell admission raises serious questions about whether friendships impacted one of the most controversial VAR decisions of the season. And it opens Dean up to fresh criticism for prioritizing relationships over getting the call right.
As tensions mount around refereeing transparency, this saga proves old boy’s networks in the officiating ranks desperately need reform. One thing is clear — the Premier League cannot afford many more cozy VAR fails deciding top flight matches.