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Kevin Friend replaced as Stoke vs. Tottenham referee because he's a Leicester fan

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Our friend Kevin will be replaced by Neil Swarbrick

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We don't think about it often, but the referees of the Premier League are actually living, breathing human beings. They eat, sleep, and go to Ed Sheeran concerts just like the rest of us. As all the Premier League referees grew up in England and love the game of football, it's only natural that they will have a team they support.

Kevin Friend supports Leicester City, which scared Spurs fans when they saw that he was to officiate their crucial match with Stoke City this Monday. Tottenham trail first-place Leicester by seven points with five games left in the season, which is certainly not an insurmountable lead.

Thankfully, the Professional Game Match Officials Limited has now re-arranged things so that Friend will instead take charge of the Newcastle-Manchester City game. Friend, who isn't allowed to officiate Leicester matches, will be replaced at the Britannia Stadium by Neil Swarbrick.

In a statement given to the Daily Mail the PGMOL said:

"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."

Obviously any Leicester supporter will be rooting for Stoke in this one, and Friend is probably no different. I'm picturing him in the crowd taking in another scrappy 1-0 Leicester win at the King Power Stadium. He's using one of those clappers that their fans, for some reason, need to make noise.

Friend has officiated two Spurs games thus far this season. There were no major incidents when he oversaw the 2-0 win at Southampton in December, but he did give Spurs a relatively soft penalty during their 3-0 victory at Norwich in February.

Dele Alli went down a bit easily after he was brushed by Sebastian Bassong in the box following a save off a shot from Harry Kane. To the surprise of those at Carrow Road that day, Friend pointed to the spot. It didn't matter as the result of the match was never in doubt, but it was a call that would've made us mad had it gone the other way.

Swarbrick is from Preston and supports Championship club Preston North End, so we shouldn't have any issues with him. The only Tottenham match Swarbrick has officiated this year was the 3-0 drubbing of Bournemouth just a few weeks ago.

Last season Swarbrick officiated two Spurs wins, against Aston Villa and Leicester. He took center stage in the Villa match when he showed Christian Benteke a red card for making contact with Ryan Mason's face. Mason initiated the contact, but Benteke was controversially sent off. The red card came with Villa leading 1-0, and it certainly played a role in Spurs coming back to win 2-1.

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Maybe Swarbrick is secretly a Spurs fan? Honestly we will take another similarly sketchy call in our favor on Monday if that's what it takes to get three points from a tough Stoke team.