Referee Ben Toner dropped from Blackpool game after Oystons court verdict

The referee Ben Toner has been taken off Blackpool’s League One match against Portsmouth, days after the majority owner, the Oystons, were found by a high court judge to have operated an ‘illegitimate stripping’ of the Lancashire club

The referee Ben Toner has been taken off Blackpool’s League One match against Portsmouth, days after the majority owner, the Oystons, were found by a high court judge to have operated an “illegitimate stripping” of the Lancashire club.

Given the findings against the Oystons, Toner’s name had caused some amusement on social media. However the EFL said he had been replaced by a more senior official only because of the “increased scrutiny” on the match at Blackpool.

On Monday Owen Oyston and his son Karl were ordered by Justice Marcus Smith to pay £31m to buy out the minority shareholder Valeri Belokon because of “fundamental breaches” of their duties as directors. Yesterday they put the club up for sale.

After discussions between the EFL and PGMOL, the referees’ association, it was decided Toner should be replaced by Jon Moss, one of the elite Premier League officials. As the body that appoints all match officials it was the PGMOL rather than the EFL which made the choice.

An EFL spokesman said: “As a result of the increased attention surrounding this weekend’s League One fixture between Blackpool and Portsmouth, PGMOL [Professional Game Match Officials Limited] has determined it would be appropriate for a select group 1 referee to take charge of proceedings at Bloomfield Road.

“The previously selected official will instead fill a vacancy that has a arisen at Brunton Park for the League Two match between Carlisle United and Yeovil Town as the referee who was scheduled to officiate sustained an injury during Bury’s game with Stoke City Under-21s on Wednesday evening.”