Football: FA may replace Reed

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The Football Association yesterday admitted it would replace the referee Mike Reed for next week's Premiership match between Chelsea and Leicester - if asked to do so by police.

Reed caused anger among Leicester supporters when he awarded a disputed late penalty to Chelsea in last week's FA Cup fifth-round tie between the clubs and his car was attacked on the way home to Birmingham.

Police are concerned about possible repercussions and the safety of Reed in the return League game, although they have no power to order a change of match official. The FA says it has had no formal request either. Part of the area normally allocated for away fans at Stamford Bridge is in the vicinity of the players' tunnel and Reed's safety could be put in jeopardy.

Steve Double, a spokesman for the FA, said: "We have had no formal request from the police - but should we have one we would obviously pay heed to any request regarding the safety aspect of things. If the police asked us to change the match official it would be likely that we would heed their request."

Leicester have raised no objection to Reed being in charge, although their manager, Martin O'Neill, had described the penalty award which led to Franck Leboeuf scoring Chelsea's winner deep into extra time as "disgraceful". O'Neill said: "It is not our place to make the decision for the authorities."

O'Neill also backed the stance taken by the game's governing body, Fifa, not to allow television-video evidence to help referees with difficult decisions - even though its use might mean his side were still in the FA Cup.

"On Wednesday I was absolutely furious at the decision but I would not like to see the game stopped and started all the time because of waiting to see videos of incidents. While it might have worked in our favour at Chelsea, it is not a good idea in my view."