Mike Dean has been in charge of 63 Arsenal Premier League games, far more than any other official in the history of the league, but he’s refereed even more Manchester United games.
There used to be a time when referees had to retire when they turned 48.
An employment tribunal found that this discriminated against them, the resulting ruling inflicting even more years of misery on Arsenal fans as Mike Dean continued his one man rampage around the Emirates.
Dean was, of course, in charge against Crystal Palace on Monday night when he declined to book James McArthur for a clear yellow card challenge and then gave him a yellow when he assaulted Bukayo Saka with no intention of playing the ball.
If I walked up to someone on the street and just kicked them, that would be assault, so that’s what I’m calling it.
Thankfully, Saka should be back in the squad on Friday for Arsenal’s game against Aston Villa, that will be refereed by Craig Pawson. It will be his 20th game in charge of Arsenal, some distance from the 63 that Dean has tried to ruin.
Dean, now 53, made his debut in the Premier League in September, 2000 and has refereed 540 games.
There are 20 teams in the Premier League but, as I’m sure you can work out, 540 divided by 20 is not 63.
Almost 12% of the games Dean has refereed in the Premier League have involved Arsenal.
Dean has, of course, been refereeing for longer than his colleagues, which will account for the higher number of games. Martin Atkinson, another soul-destroyer, is second on Arsenal’s list with 50.
He started six years after Dean and just over 11% of his games have involved Arsenal.
Next on the list is Andre ‘is it the Ox or Gibbs’ Marriner, who started at the same time as Atkinson, has refereed 38 Arsenal games, representing 10.5% of his total games.
Curious about the Dean stat, and if I was only being paranoid because of my Arsenal blinders, I went to check Manchester United’s stats.
Sure enough, there is Dean at the top of their table too, having done 69 of their games – even more than Arsenal!
That also means that almost 25% of the games Dean has refereed in the Premier League have involved Arsenal or Manchester United.
Of current referees still in action, Martin Atkinson is also second on their list with 46 compared to Arsenal’s 50.
Marriner is also third on United’s list, once you skip past the retired Graham Poll (2nd overall for United, 3rdfor Arsenal) and Howard Webb (4th for United but 11th for Arsenal).
While I would love to point to an anti-Arsenal bias amongst referees when it comes to how they actually referee games, it’s hard to point to a conspiracy in who is appointed.
It seems very much a case of Dean, Atkinson and Marriner being around the longest and Arsenal games, once-upon-a-time, being deemed worthy of more regular ‘big game’ referees.
This weekend, Mike Dean will be fourth official for United’s game against Liverpool.