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Lee Mason quits referees’ body PGMOL after Var blunder costs Arsenal points

Referee Lee Mason during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Fulham at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England - Lee Mason quits as Var after error costs Arsenal - Getty Images/Laurence Griffiths
Referee Lee Mason during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Fulham at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England - Lee Mason quits as Var after error costs Arsenal - Getty Images/Laurence Griffiths

Lee Mason has stepped down from officiating in Premier League matches after causing controversy last weekend when he failed to spot an offside in the build-up to Brentford’s equaliser against Arsenal.

Lee Mason will no longer officiate in the Premier League after leaving the referees’ body “by mutual consent” following his failure to spot a clear offside in the build-up to Brentford’s equaliser against Arsenal last weekend.

Former top referee Keith Hackett, a Telegraph Sport columnist, said last weekend that Mason’s position had become untenable because of the blunder, which had infuriated Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta.

Mason had failed to draw the correct offside lines in the build-up to Ivan Toney’s equaliser for Brentford at the Emirates Stadium, with Christian Norgaard assisting the goal from an offside position.

Mason had been taken off officiating duty for subsequent Premier League fixtures and the refereeing body Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) said in a statement on Friday night that the 51-year-old has now departed the organisation.

“Lee was a Premier League referee for 15 years and oversaw 287 top flight matches during that time, with his last coming during the closing stages of the 2021-22 season,” PGMOL said.

“His full career in the professional game saw the 51-year-old officiate in over 500 fixtures after he progressed to the Football League in 1998. We would like to thank Lee for his dedicated service to the professional game and wish him all the best for the future.”

Football Arsenal v Brentford Premier League image.png - Lee Mason quits as Var after error costs Arsenal - Television Stills
Football Arsenal v Brentford Premier League image.png - Lee Mason quits as Var after error costs Arsenal - Television Stills
Football Arsenal v Brentford Premier League image (1).png - Lee Mason quits as Var after error costs Arsenal - Television Stills
Football Arsenal v Brentford Premier League image (1).png - Lee Mason quits as Var after error costs Arsenal - Television Stills

Mason’s mistake was not the only major error last weekend, with John Brooks wrongly disallowing a goal for Brighton against Crystal Palace after drawing the offside lines from the wrong player.

The two blunders prompted Premier League referees’ chief Howard Webb to summon all officials to an emergency meeting at Stockley Park on Tuesday. Webb had contacted both Arsenal and Brighton last weekend to discuss the major mistakes in their respective matches.

Arteta said this week that Mason’s error in Arsenal’s match against Brentford was not acceptable.

“After analysing the images, we [had] a huge anger and disappointment because that wasn’t a human error — that was a big, big, big [case of] not understanding the job,” the Arsenal manager said on Tuesday.

“That’s unacceptable. That cost us two points. That’s not going to be restored, so we’re going to have to find those two points somewhere else in the league.

“But at the same time, we appreciate the apology and the explanation, which was really open, to be fair. We have to move on. It has made the players, the staff and our fans even stronger and with more desire to pass this hurdle that they put on us. We are ready for it.”

Hackett on Friday night welcomed Mason’s decision. “I believe that Lee Mason has done the honourable thing by resigning from the PGMOL panel of Var officials. Var is a specialist role clearly not suited for everyone.”