Ref for Tottenham-Stoke fixture switched due to Leicester allegiance

Spurs need to win on Monday in order to keep pace with Leicester, who lead them by seven points at the top of the Premier League.

The referee for Tottenham Hotspur's forthcoming Premier League fixture has been switched due to his allegiance towards Leicester City, according to a report in Thursday's Daily Mail.

Spurs play Stoke on Monday night, a day after their title rivals host West Ham United at the King Power Stadium.

The Premier League had appointed Kevin Friend, who reportedly lives in Leicester and admits to being a fan of the Foxes, to officiate at White Hart Lane but he has since been replaced by Preston-based Neil Swarbrick following pressure on social media.

The Professional Game Match Officials Ltd (PGMOL) do not pick Friend to referee matches involving Leicester, but it is rare that secondary factors such as this are taken into consideration.

However, it is claimed that PGMOL boss Mike Riley had second thoughts about Friend's appointment, given the fixture's significance.

Leicester will move ten points clear of Spurs with a win on Sunday, but defeat would allow Mauricio Pochettino's team to close the gap to as few as four points with four games remaining.

Friend will take charge of Newcastle United's fixture at home to Manchester City instead.


Register for TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch