Ref axed over ‘dark joke’ that got out will now make his Premier League return

Former Premier League official Bobby Madley is set to make his return to the top flight – over four years after he was axed for making fun of someone with disabilities.

The 37-year-old hasn't been seen in the Premier League since August 2018 when he suddenly quit under mysterious circumstances.

Madley stated publicly that he had "decided to relocate due to a change in his personal circumstances" and subsequently moved to Norway where he officiated in lower league matches, though would later reveal the reason behind his curious departure.

READ MORE: Ex-Premier League ref Bobby Madley regrets 'dark private joke' that cost him career

The Wakefield-born referee said that he'd recorded a video mocking a disabled person, something he described as a "dark-humoured joke", and sent it to a supposedly trustworthy friend. His friend then forwarded the clip to Madley's employers, who immediately dismissed him.

In 2020 he returned English football, initially officiating at grassroots level, before joining the National List of referees and working his way up the divisions. Madley has 10 Sky Bet Championship games under his belt so far this season, having most recently officiated Watford's 4-0 hammering of neighbours Luton Town over the weekend.

On Tuesday it was announced that he will take charge of his first Premier League match in four years – Brentford's clash against Wolves on Saturday.

Does Bobby Madley deserve to be back in the Premier League? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Explaining his controversial departure in 2018, Madley wrote in a blog: "As I sat in my car with my phone in hand, a person walked past my car in front of me who had a walking impairment. The next part I am ashamed of. I took a six-second film, I said nothing. I did this in Snapchat, which is where I take all of my films that I intend to save to my phone.

"On the video I wrote, ‘F*** me, I have a chance of winning the parents race this year.’ Out of context I accept this reads shamefully. I accept that. However, my intention was that the joke was aimed at myself."

He added: "Had I have sent this to anyone on Snapchat, then I would accept the decision that later came as a result. I didn’t do that, though. I saved it to my phone. I sent it as a private text to somebody who I trusted. Somebody who understood the context of previous sports day comments and was aware of the fat shaming I had received.

"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 in a text message on my own personal phone."


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