A former high-profile referee has broken his silence over his sacking from the Premier League, after he made a joke about a disabled person.
Bobby Madley, who grew up in Ossett, left the professional game suddenly in August 2018 without explanation which led to wild rumours on social media. The 34-year-old has now broken his silence after publishing a lengthy online blog.
He was dismissed by football chiefs after a private message he sent to a friend was passed to the Premier League in which he recorded a short video of a person with a walking impairment.
He added a caption joking that he could beat them in a race at his daughter’s sports day.
He says the joke was aimed towards himself after the national press made comments about him being overweight.
In his blog, he said: “I regret taking the video, I regret sending that video and whilst it was a dark-humoured joke it was just that. A joke. It was not intended to shame anyone, it was not intended to be seen by anyone other than the person I sent it privately to.”
He was sacked with immediate effect for gross misconduct.
He added: “At that point my world fell apart. Whilst I understand the importance of an employer taking discrimination seriously as they did, the decision to this day still stuns me.”
Mr Madley began his refereeing career in the Wakefield and District League in 2001 and joined the National List of referees who officiate in the Football League in 2010.
In 2013 he took charge of his first Premier League game and in 2017 refereed the FA Community Shield match between Arsenal and Chelsea.
After his sacking Mr Madley said he was ‘destroyed’ by the media but chose not to comment on the wildly inaccurate stories that were circulating, including details about his private life and his marriage ending.