Leicester-based referee Kevin Friend will no longer take charge of Tottenham’s Barclays Premier League match at Stoke on Monday night.
The Professional Game Match Officials Limited said the change was made to avoid adding an “extra scrutiny on the refereeing appointment” around Friend, who lives in Leicester and has been to games at the King Power Stadium.
Leicester lead the table by seven points ahead of Spurs with five matches remaining.
While there is no suggestion of any question over the official’s integrity in his impartial position, the PGMOL, which does not select Friend for matches involving his hometown club, felt given the circumstances it was sensible to move him to another fixture.
A statement read: “PGMOL has made the decision to change the referee for the match between Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur as Kevin Friend, initially selected for the game, is from Leicester and has attended matches at Leicester City in a personal capacity.
“Given the timing and context of this match, it was felt unnecessary to add extra scrutiny on the refereeing appointment.
“Neil Swarbrick will referee the match and Friend will referee Newcastle United vs Manchester City.”