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Former referee Bobby Madley: Kevin Friend made 'honest decision' against Aston Villa

By Russell Youll | Aston Villa | Published:

Former Premier League referee Bobby Madley believes Kevin Friend made an 'honest decision' against Jack Grealish and Aston Villa in their 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace

Kevin Friend has been widely criticised for the decision which cost Aston Villa a late equaliser.

Jack Grealish thought he had set-up a last-gasp equaliser having played in Henri Lansbury in the dying moments of the Premier League encounter after his shot found the back of the net, but referee Kevin Friend opted instead to book the Villa skipper for simulation and award Palace a free kick - despite video replays showing clear contact on the midfielder from Wilfried Zaha and Gary Cahill.

VAR could not intervene in the controversial decision to rule out the goal, which has been widely criticised online, as Friend blew his whistle before the ball hit the back of the net.

A VAR check did take place to review the 'potential penalty situation', but the decision not to award a spot kick was upheld.

Madley, whose brother Andy was the VAR official for the clash, claimed that the decision was a difficult one, and that refs would be split over its categorisation as a dive.

"You could show that clip to a group of referees and 50 per cent would say it's a penalty, 50 per cent would say it's a dive. I think it's a really difficult decision." he told TalkSPORT.

"The main thing to come away with is that once the whistle is blown by the referee, VAR can't really intervene with that.

"It's a decision that the ref took. I've made a point since I left the Premier League not to be judge and jury on other referees' decisions. Now there's other referees that might do that, former refs. But I've made a point not to.

"I know how difficult the job is, and to be honest I've watched the Premier League since I've left and I've not got a decision wrong from my armchair.

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"It's not really my place to start saying 'yeah, he's got this right, he's got that wrong'. It's an honest decision that Kevin Friend made.

"Having looked at the video clips and this isn't me just being part of the referees' union. I've looked at the clip and to be honest there might be a bit of contact but I also think the player leaves his leg there - I think it's a tough one, a real tough one.

"I don't think the video could turn over the conclusion, they certainly don't fit into that clear and obvious error category that VAR would therefore get involved with."

The decision ultimately robbed Villa of a point, and also left Grealish with a yellow card on his record this season.

It also sparked trouble in the away end at Selhurst Park, resulting in one man being arrested on suspicion of affray the Metropolitan Police confirmed in a statement.

Russell Youll

By Russell Youll
@russyoull_star

Group Sports Editor for the Express & Star and Shropshire Star

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