Kevin Friend to referee Preston v Burnley derby

Kevin Friend will take charge of the Lancashire derby between Preston North End and Burnley at Deepdale on Friday night.

Kevin Friend speaks to Jon Obi Mikel
Busy weekend: Friend will also be the fourth official for Aston Villa’s Premier League game with Southampton on Saturday (Picture from Sky Sports)

PREMIER League referee Kevin Friend will take charge of the televised SkyBet Championship clash between Preston North End and Burnley on Friday night.

The 44-year-old will be in the middle at Deepdale as the promotion-chasing Clarets make the 25-mile trip across Lancashire to face mid-table Preston (KO 19:45 BST, live on Sky Sports 1).

He will be assisted by Select Group linesmen Richard West (East Yorkshire) and Marc Perry (West Midlands), while the fourth official is Andy Madley (West Yorkshire).

Friend has been the subject of divisive opinion recently after being removed from Spurs’ top-flight game at Stoke on Monday because of his perceived support of title rivals Leicester.

In the middle: Friend handled his 18th Premier League game of the season when Newcastle drew with City live on TV on Tuesday night (Picture from Sky Sports)
In the middle: Friend handled his 18th Premier League game of the season when Newcastle drew with City live on TV on Tuesday night (Picture from Sky Sports)

The Leicester-based official has attended games with friends at the King Power Stadium but is a Bristol City fan.

The decision, seemingly swayed by Spurs fans raising doubts on social media, has been praised in some quarters but criticised by others who believe the PGMOL have set a dangerous precedent and questioned the referee’s integrity.

Friend instead replaced Anthony Taylor as referee for Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Aston Villa last Saturday and oversaw Newcastle’s 1-1 draw with Manchester City on Tuesday night.

Before the aforementioned encounter at St James’ Park, he had dished out 80 yellow cards, sent off six players and awarded six penalties in 28 games across five competitions this term.

Kevin Friend stats 2015-16
Stats: How Friend’s season has panned out so far (Picture from Transfermarkt.com)

Friend was hospitalised with concussion last month after a nasty fall into the dugout when fourth official for Bournemouth’s win over Southampton and was subsequently replaced as referee for Southampton v Sunderland.

He was also the man in black for the reverse fixture at Turf Moor in December when he booked five players during Preston’s 2-0 victory.

His only other fixture between the sides was a dramatic one in September 2010 at Turf Moor in the second-tier.

The Bristol-born whistler sent off Preston’s Billy Jones with the visitors leading 3-1 on 78 minutes before an astonishing late turnaround saw the Clarets win 4-3 in a thrilling contest.

It led to a three-game touchline ban for then Preston boss Darren Ferguson, who confronted the official in the tunnel afterwards.

Friend also encountered Burnley in their 1-1 draw with Leeds at Elland Road on the opening weekend.

Kevin Friend points to the spot (Derby v Watford)
Dropping down: Friend will take control of his sixth Championship game of the season (Picture from Sky Sports)

It will be his first visit to Deepdale since the final day of the 2011-12 season, Preston’s 2-2 draw with Charlton in League One.

In February, Friend irked Norwich boss Alex Neil after sarcastically saying “it’s my fault you’ve lost the game” following a 3-0 defeat by Spurs, in which he gave Tottenham a penalty and failed to give the Canaries a spotkick.

He also opted to book Mathieu Flamini rather than send off the Arsenal midfielder for a two-footed challenge on Bournemouth’s Dan Gosling early on in the Gunners’ 2-0 win at the Vitality Stadium.

Friend’s most high-profile appointments to date were the 2012 Community Shield at Villa Park and 2013 Capital One Cup Final at Wembley – in which he issued a red card in both.

He sent off Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic for a two-footed lunge in their 3-2 defeat by Manchester City and Bradford keeper Matt Duke for a professional foul as the then League Two club lost 5-0 to Swansea.

Friend, who has been refereeing for 30 years since the age of 14, was also in charge of the 2009 FA Vase Final at the national stadium when Glossop North End lost 2-0 to Whitley Bay.

He has been on the Select Group list of full-time referees since the start of the 2009-10 season, handling his first top-flight game in September 2009 as Wolves beat Fulham 2-1 at Molineux.

Friend has since gone on to officiate over 130 Premier League matches and established himself on the list.

Andy Madley awards free-kick (Lge One PO Final - 24th May 2015)
Fourth official: Andy Madley refereed Preston’s 4-0 win over Swindon in last season’s League One Play-Off Final at Wembley (Picture from Sky Sports)

Second-placed Burnley enter the first match of the Football League weekend two points behind leaders Middlesbrough and are level on 84 points with Brighton in third.

Preston lie 10th, two points adrift of ninth-placed Birmingham, with three games remaining but are winless in four games since a 2-1 Lancashire derby win at Blackburn.

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