Referee Bobby Madley to make Premier League return, four years after being sacked
The 37-year-old was relieved of his duties in 2018 for gross misconduct on grounds of discrimination after he sent an offensive and inappropriate message on Snapchat.
Initially, the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) announced that Madley, who has officiated 91 matches in the Premier League since 2013, had relocated “due to a change in his personal circumstances“.
Madley later confirmed to being sacked, admitting he had sent a “dark-humoured joke” to someone he “trusted” and claimed it was with the intention of aiming the joke at himself.
In a blog post in December 2019, Madley explained the situation in full.
“The full page and headline of ‘Blobby Bobby’ may seem funny to some but, trust me, being fat-shamed in a national newspaper is not a nice feeling.
“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**k 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.
“Had I 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.”He said.
Madley, who moved to Norway after the incident and refereed in the lower leagues, announced in 2020 that he was returning to English football as a National List referee in League One and League Two.
In another blog post on February 13, 2020 titled ‘A New Chapter’, Madley wrote:
“Eighteen months ago I lost my dream job as a professional football referee due my own regrettable, naive and stupid actions.
“I am delighted however that I have been given the opportunity to return to referee in the professional game in England.
“The public response to my story was incredibly humbling.
“I never sought sympathy for my actions nor for the resulting decision taken by my previous employers and that was not the purpose of the post, it was purely to help myself to move forward mentally.
“Following recent discussions it was made clear that the door was potentially open to a return to referee in English professional football.
“This came at a time when, for private family reasons, the discussion to move back to England on a permanent basis together was very much on the table with my partner and myself.
“I’ve been away from the Premier League for what will be two years come the new season so a return to that level was never a possibility. With the introduction of VAR and the many hours of training missed it would not have been reasonable to expect that.”
“I am not proud of my actions in 2018 and I have learned from this and feel I am a better and stronger person for it.
“PGMOL dealt with what they considered a discriminatory act in the strongest way.
“There can be no criticism for that and I have never sought to do anything other than respect the decision and to learn from it as a person.
“I can only thank them for having the ability to forgive, recognise that one naive moment does not define a person and offer me a second chance to do what I love to do.”He added.
Madley has taken charge of 10 Championship games this season, including Watford’s victory over Luton on Sunday, and will take charge of this weekend’s Premier League clash between Brentford and Wolves.