Referee chiefs are considering stopping Mike Dean and Lee Mason from working together after the pair were involved in several high-profile controversies over the past week.
Dean was the on-field referee and Mason the VAR when Southampton's Jan Bednarek was sent off in the recent 9-0 loss to Manchester United, a decision which was overturned just two days later, and they also combined for the disastrous decision to dismiss West Ham's Tomas Soucek for an accidental elbow on Fulham's Aleksandr Mitrovic.
The pair's roles were reversed for Southampton's 1-0 loss to Aston Villa, in which the Saints were controversially denied a penalty, and that led to Southampton requesting not to be officiated by either Dean or Mason in the near future.
As noted by The Times, The Professional Games Match Officials Ltd (PGMOL) do not allow clubs to object to specific referee appointments, but they are wary of the duo's recent controversies and are considering splitting them up.
Referee chiefs are set to meet in the near future to discuss the two officials' recent performances and decide how best to proceed, with the idea of teaming them up with other referees being suggested.
“To show a red card was an embarrassing decision,” West Ham manager David Moyes said (via The Telegraph). “I am more embarrassed that it would happen and VAR would go and ask him to look at it because I thought it was just a simple accident.
“Lee Mason and Mike Dean, they are both very experienced referees and I would be amazed if that was the way they wanted to referee the games. Do we now look at every accidental incident and say that could be considered for a red card?
“I am amazed they have even sent Mike to look at it [on the monitor]. I am even more amazed that Mike chose to do something with it. What can we do? I don't think anyone in football or football management is convinced by the rulings we are involved in.
“I am actually quite embarrassed for Mike that he would have made that decision. When are the referees going to stand up and say this is not the correct way to referee games?
“I think the referees could easily put a stop to this, and they are probably the ones who could do it by saying, ‘no, we are not going to continue to give soft free-kicks, we are not going to react to screaming’.”