Former Premier League referee Mike Dean has admitted that he purposely avoided correcting a mistake during a match last season while on VAR duty.

The now retired official made the claim while on the Up Front podcast with Simon Jordan. According to Dean, he failed to ask match referee Anthony Taylor to review an incorrect call on the pitch-side monitor because he did not want his friend receiving “grief.”

VAR decision ultimately affected outcome of EPL game

The incident in question occurred during a matchup between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur last August. With the Blues leading 2-1 late in the game, Spurs defender Cristian Romero pulled Marc Cucurella’s hair.

Taylor apparently did not see the infraction by Romero, yet Dean did. Nevertheless the VAR official on the day chose not to intervene.

Harry Kane then leveled the scoreline on the ensuing corner kick for Spurs in added time. The contentious match, in which both managers were booked by Taylor, ultimately finished tied at 2-2.

Dean did claim that he got the call wrong a few days after the match. However, the former referee has now revealed that his close relationship with Taylor was the reason he did not ask the referee to review the incident.

VAR official admits friendship with ref influenced ruling

“I missed the stupid hair pull at Chelsea versus Tottenham which was pathetic from my point of view,” Dean told the podcast. “It’s one of them where if I had my time again, what would I do? I’d send Anthony (Taylor) to the screen. I think I knew if I did send him to the screen … he’s cautioned both managers, he’s had a hell of a game, it’s been such a tough game end to end.”

“I said to Anthony afterwards: ‘I just didn’t want to send you to the screen after what has gone on in the game.’ I didn’t want to send him up because he is a mate as well as a referee and I think I didn’t want to send him up because I didn’t want any more grief than he already had.”

The veteran official retired from refereeing ahead of the 2022/23 Premier League season to focus on VAR duties.

However, as a result of the aforementioned mistake, Dean was suspended from video replay duties for two months. After working in the industry for 28 years, the 55-year-old Dean retired from the sport entirely earlier this summer.