There’s a reason Premier League fans never see Michael Oliver take charge of a Tyne-Wear derby, or see Kevin Friend at the King Power Stadium.

Premier League referees have to indicate who they support in order to ensure there is no bias towards teams.

Oliver himself is a Newcastle fan while Friend cheers on Leicester. Mike Dean is a Tranmere supporter with Martin Atkinson a Leeds fan.

It means there are some occasions when the top referees don’t always get the biggest games, having to be kept away from their own teams.

Talking about VAR, Oliver told the Mail on Sunday: “I went to Sheffield United with Newcastle as a fan in the away end last season and we thought we had had a goal disallowed. Jonjo Shelvey scored it and then there was a wait for the decision because the flag went up.

Michael Oliver is a Newcastle fan
Michael Oliver is a Newcastle fan

“It was subsequently given with VAR and that was almost a bigger celebration in the away end because you haven’t scored and then you have. Yes, you lose some spontaneity but I think 95 per cent of the goals that are given still stand.

“I never referee Newcastle games. We have to declare if we have an allegiance to any club or if a family member works at a club.

“You can’t do any match involving that team and I can’t do Sunderland, either, for obvious reasons.

Premier League referee Mike Dean is a huge Tranmere fan
Premier League referee Mike Dean is a huge Tranmere fan

“Because Newcastle are invariably involved in a relegation battle, when you get to March or April, it means I can’t referee anyone around them towards the bottom three.

“If Newcastle needed a point to survive and the team they were fighting to get above was say Villa, I couldn’t referee Villa’s game either.

“I wouldn’t want to. It’s not worth the hassle.”

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Who every Premier League ref supports

Michael Oliver: Newcastle United

Mike Dean: Tranmere Rovers

Chris Kavanagh: Unknown

Martin Atkinson: Leeds United

Stuart Attwell: Luton Town

Peter Bankes: Unknown

David Coote: Unknown

Kevin Friend: Bristol City and Leicester

Simon Hooper: Swindon Town

Andre Marriner: Aston Villa

Lee Mason: Bolton

Jon Moss: Sunderland

Andy Madley: Unknown though thought to be Huddersfield

Craig Pawson: Sheffield United

Graham Scott: Swindon Town

Anthony Taylor: Altrincham

Paul Tierney: Wigan