Referee at centre of Brighton and Manchester United VAR controversy takes charge of Leeds United visit to Seagulls

Chris Kavanagh has been appointed to take charge of Leeds United's visit to Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 2:04 pm
LATE DRAMA - Chris Kavanagh had blown for full-time in Brighton's game against Manchester United but after a VAR intervention Bruno Fernandes was able to win the game with a penalty. Pic: Getty

The assistant referees for the clash are Dan Cook and Neil Davies, with John Brooks as fourth official.

Australian Jarred Gillett will be in control of VAR, with Lee Betts his assistant.

Kavanagh, who refereed Leeds' games at Crystal Palace and Leicester City earlier this season, has given out 112 yellows and two red cards from his 28 matches in 2020/21, awarding five penalties in the process.

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Leeds fans will remember the Palace defeat for Patrick Bamford's disallowed goal, when VAR decided the arm with which he pointed to indicate where he wanted the ball to be played was offside.

Brighton fans had their own bitter taste of VAR action in a game Kavanagh refereed, when a 100th minute spot-kick decision allowed Bruno Fernandes to tuck away the winner for Manchester United back in September.

Earlier in the game Neal Maupay had given the Seagulls the lead from the penalty spot and they later thought they'd earned a second spot-kick when Paul Pogba appeared to trip Aaron Connolly, but Kavanagh reversed his decision after watching the incident on the pitchside monitor.

Former referee and BT Sport analyst Peter Walton said VAR official Simon Hooper should not have advised Kavanagh in the manner he did, before the referee took another look for himself.

"He should say: 'Here is what I've seen, please make your own decision based on what I've seen and I will give you the evidence'. Not to suggest 'I think this'," said Walton.

If that felt controversial it was mild compared to the scenes at the end of the game. Kavanagh blew for full-time before Hooper indicated that Maupay had handled a Harry Maguire header and the game was allowed to restart in order for Fernandes to take the penalty.

In 13 games refereed by Kavanagh Leeds United have won seven times and drawn four times. He is yet to award a spot-kick in a game involving the Whites and has only ever shown two red cards in those 13 matches. In a 2015 clash with Fulham, Cottagers player Konstantinos Stafylidis was shown two yellows in two minutes to receive his marching orders. Alex Mowatt was shown a straight red in a 2016 win over Birmingham City.

Brighton have lost half of their 14 games with the 35-year-old in charge, in which four penalty decisions have gone for them and five against them.