Referees are meant to be impartial, but it's nice to be reminded every time they prove to be more human and approachable. Originally scheduled to referee Spurs against Stoke, Kevin Friend has been taken off the whistle by the Premier League for admitting that he is a Leicester City fan.
Leicester fans were originally delighted that he'd been appointed, and Spurs fans kicked up a fuss - but the League has taken action and made a swift replacement. The game will now be officiated by Neil Swarbrick.
Kevin Friend, from Leicester, officiating Stoke v Spurs next Monday. Come on, Kevin, bring home the title!
— Tom. (@tommjennings) April 11, 2016
The referee for Stoke v Tottenham is Kevin Friend, who's from Leicester.
...aaand here come the conspiracy theorists pic.twitter.com/D9zz8SaDZH
— James Sharpe (@TheSharpeEnd) April 11, 2016
Friend doesn't referee Leicester games because of his allegiance, but usually secondary factors like rival games are not taken into account. The Professional Game Match Officials Ltd who pick the referees said that they made the change because of the importance of the game to Friend's team and to take any undue pressure from the referee.
Kevin Friend, initially selected for the game, is from Leicester and has attended matches at Leicester City in a personal capacity. Given the context of this match, it was felt unnecessary to add extra scrutiny on the refereeing appointment.