- Bobby Madley is to return to refereeing in England for the first time in two years
- He was sacked after sending a video mocking a disabled person to a friend
- He will return to referee at League One and Two level from start of next season
Former Premier League referee Bobby Madley is set to return to officiating in England
Madley was sacked by the PGMOL after sending a video mocking a disabled person to a friend
Bobby Madley will return to referee in the Football League next season despite being sacked by the Premier League for making a joke about a disabled person, a punishment he labelled as ‘disproportionate to the act’.
Madley was dismissed by PGMOL chief Mike Riley in 2018 and he relocated to Norway, where he has since been refereeing.
But Madley will join the national list of referees from August, taking charge of League One and League Two matches. He will spend the rest of this season officiating non-League games.
The 34-year-old, who agreed to attend an FA anti-discrimination workshop, said: ‘I’ve been away from the Premier League for what will be two years come the new season, so a return to that level was never a possibility. With the introduction of VAR and the many hours of training missed, it would not have been reasonable to expect that.
‘Like any referee, I have the desire to perform at my best and to achieve the best I can. I still have dreams that I thought were dead but, for me, they are now very much alive. I’m sorry that my actions fell way below the professional standard expected of me — but having the chance to redeem myself is an opportunity, journey and challenge that I am looking forward to taking.’
In December, Madley opened up about the ‘dark-humoured joke’ that cost him his job, which he said was in response to a newspaper article that claimed he was overweight.
‘The full page and headline of “Blobby Bobby” may seem funny to some but, trust me, being fat shamed in a national newspaper is not a nice feeling,’ he wrote.
‘As I sat in my car with my phone in hand, a person walked past in front of me who had a walking impairment. The next part I am ashamed of. I took a six-second film, I said nothing.
‘On the video I wrote, “F**k me, I have a chance of winning the parents’ race this year”. Out of context, I accept this reads shamefully. I accept that. However, my intention was that the joke was aimed at myself.
‘I sent it as a private text to somebody who I trusted. Somebody who understood the context of previous sports day comments and was aware of the fat shaming I had received.
‘I regret taking the video, I regret sending that video and, whilst it was a dark-humoured joke, it was just that. A joke.’
Madley was subsequently sacked. ‘At that point my world fell apart,’ he said in December. ‘Whilst I absolutely understand the importance of an employer taking discrimination seriously, as they did, the decision to this day still stuns me. I will never be able to accept that the decision taken was either necessary, nor was it proportionate to the act.’