Arsenal

Know Your Enemy …Lee Mason

Lee Mason isn’t exactly a household name in the list of referees that we have to vent our anger to every weekend.

However, Liverpool fans will be familiar with him as it was their team that suffered from his whistle last November. They may have lost the match against Fulham as a result of that, and Mason was relegated to fourth official duties the following weekend. The incidents involved sending off two Liverpool players where it was deemed that a yellow would have been sufficient (in at least one case). The Bolton-born official probably wanted to get in the headlines, therefore thinking we all know him…

The Mason family has a history in football, because it was his younger brother who was an ex-professional footballer with their home-town club- Bolton. His name is Andy Mason.

Mason has been in the whistle-blowing game since 1988, and went through the North West Counties system before reaching the Premier League in 2006. It’s four years in the top flight then, and yet he’s not exactly the most high-profile is he? This probably explains the fact that he hasn’t officiated major games or finals, but he has taken charge of a League One play-off final and the first-leg of the 2009 FA Youth Cup final.

In 34 games this season, Mason has dished out 103 yellow cards and five red cards. Having not taken charge of many major matches, he has already been at the receiving end of criticism from Rafa Benitez and Portsmouth midfielder Richard Hughes who called him “useless”. Ouch! He said: “If you are not going to get sent off for fracturing a cheekbone with an elbow, you might as well scrap the rule of red cards for an elbow. Major decisions went against us, but even without that I thought he (Mason) was useless all night.” Hughes was speaking after his side’s fixture against Chelsea.

So Mason has managed to infuriate Benitez, gets publicly told what a player thinks of him and got demoted to fourth official duties all in the space of half a season. He may be someone trying to do his best, and having been a ref since 1988, but he’s doing well to be unpopular.

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