Referee Lee Mason 2: VAR: 1 as Brighton furious over penalty blunder
Premier League referee Lee Mason is at the centre of more controversy after another top-flight blunder.
The official has come under heavy fire in recent months.
He was notably labelled “not good enough” by Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo in December – in a scathing assessment that earned the Portuguese a £25k FA fine.
And he was then widely criticised for his role as the VAR in Tomas Soucek’s recent sending off at Fulham – a decision subsequently overturned following West Ham’s appeal.
Now Mason’s latest blunder has left Brighton players and staff furious following his role in a first-half incident against West Brom during Saturday’s relegation battle.
Sam Allardyce’s men had a 1-0 lead midway through the first period, thanks to Kyle Bartley’s header.
But after missing a penalty through Pascal Gross, the Seagulls were presented an opportunity to equalise with a well-placed free-kick.
Brighton skipper Lewis Dunk asked Mason if he could take the effort quickly as goalkeeper Sam Johnstone was lining up his wall – and Mason stepped away from the ball and blew his whistle.
Dunk struck, but as the ball was heading into the net, Mason bafflingly changed his mind and blew up for a second time.
He quickly disallowed the goal, much to Brighton’s unhappiness, but as players appealed, Mason quickly changed his mind, pointed to the halfway line, and gave the goal.
That left West Brom players angry and saw the goal go to VAR, where Simon Hooper cast his eyes over the surreal incident, with Mason having seemingly backed himself into a corner over not knowing what to do.
Replays showed that Mason had indeed stopped play with his second whistle before the ball had crossed the goal – and thus the goal was chalked off.
Brighton resumed the game with the freekick again, which ultimately was comfortably saved by Johnstone.
Speaking on Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday, presenter Jeff Stelling was stunned by Mason’s decision and his handling of the situation.
Stelling raged: “He’s talking to them like a schoolmaster, for goodness sake.
“This is a shambles Lee Mason. What have you done?”
As it became apparent the goal had been ruled out Stelling got even angrier, yelling: “They’ve given no goal! VAR has given no goal!And now he’s going to go and look at the screen.
“This is a total, utter, shameful, disgraceful piece of nonsense!”
Stelling continued: “This is the dream team of Lee Mason and Simon Hooper, who is on VAR at the moment. You could not make this up.
“Seriously, if he knows he hasn’t blown, how can he then award the goal after someone’s then told him that he did whistle? Doesn’t he know whether he whistled or not?
“I have never seen anything, anything, anywhere, like this. It’s a total, utter shambles.”
Dunk continued his protestations to the officials as they left the field at half-time, with his side trailing 1-0 and despite being awarded a second-half penalty – missed by Danny Welbeck – they left the Hawthorns empty-handed.
Mason is due to be fourth official for Liverpool’s trip to Sheffield United on Sunday night.
Ironically, Dunk previously scored a similarly quickly-taken freekick against the Reds in November 2019, with that goal allowed to stand by official Martin Atkinson.