Former Premier League referee Mike Dean has confessed to a significant revelation concerning a decision made by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) during last season’s intense London derby between Chelsea and Tottenham at Stamford Bridge.

In his role as the Video Assistant Referee for the match that ended in a 2-2 draw, Dean was involved in a crucial moment where Spurs’ defender Cristian Romero avoided a probable red card after pulling Chelsea’s Marc Cucurella down by his hair.

The on-field referee, Anthony Taylor, failed to spot this incident. Just moments later, Tottenham managed to score a late equalizing goal through Harry Kane. Dean has now admitted that he intentionally did not bring this incident to Taylor’s attention as he wished to spare his colleague from additional scrutiny.

In a conversation with the Up Front podcast, Dean shared, “I overlooked the regrettable hair pull during the Chelsea versus Tottenham match, which, from my perspective, was an unfortunate oversight. In hindsight, if I could go back, what would I do differently? I would have instructed Anthony to review the incident on the screen.”

Dean further explained, “I had a conversation with Anthony afterward: ‘I chose not to have you review the screen given the circumstances of the game.’ My reluctance stemmed from the fact that he and I share a personal friendship beyond our roles as referees. I felt that subjecting him to further scrutiny would only compound the challenges he was already facing.”

Dean, with a record of officiating more than 550 matches in the Premier League and transitioning to a full-time VAR official in the previous season, was relieved of his VAR duties for a period of two months following the contentious match.

In July, the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) announced that Dean would be stepping down from his position and leaving the referees’ organization.

Dean conceded, “That was a significant misjudgment. If Tottenham had not scored from the resulting corner, the issue wouldn’t have garnered as much attention.” Reflecting on his mistake, which he had publicly acknowledged at the time, Dean revealed that his involvement in VAR duties used to make him anxious about matchdays.

“I was well aware that I would be suspended from duty the following week. I requested some time off because I found the role wasn’t suitable for me,” Dean added.