Referees told to use common sense following Patrick Bamford incident during Leeds United's clash at Millwall
Referees have been told not to use a new substitution law if they believe it could cause issues between players and opposition fans.
The warning - reported by The Times - comes in the wake of an incident involving Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford during the Whites 2-1 Championship defeat to Millwall last weekend.
Bamford was replaced in the 62nd minute by head coach Marcelo Bielsa with fellow forward Eddie Nketiah stepping off the bench.
The 26-year-old left the field at the nearest possible point, a new rule which came into force this summer in an attempt to battle time-wasting within the game.
Following the substitution, Bamford walked along the near touchline and could be seen being led away by United coaching staff after being spat at by a home supporter.
The referees' body Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOL) have now warned match officials to use the rule at their discretion following the incident at The Den.
Former England striker Michael Owen has questioned the new rule, tweeting: "Why don’t we use even more common sense and just scrap the rule? We are asking for trouble, as I said last week.
"The referee should stop the watch during a substitution. Time-wasting doesn’t come into it. There is no valid reason to force players to walk a gauntlet of abuse.
"The safety of everybody in the stadium should be priority.
"I would centralise timekeeping personally to give referees one less thing to worry about and rid the game of time-wasting."
The YEP understands the fourth official told stewards to keep an eye out for Bamford walking around in front of the home supporters in the Barry Kitchener stand presumably forseeing the potential case for an issue to arise.
The Metropolitan Police confirmed that only three arrests had been made during the fixture.
The police force is also investigating another incident after a video circulated on social media of an officer appearing to strike a Leeds fan.
A statement read: “The footage is a limited capture of an incident in which a large group of people attempted to force their way past officers who were managing crowd control as part of a pre-planned policing operation following the football match.
“We are working to establish the full circumstances of what took place.”