Newcastle United referee appointment v Tottenham questioned amid Manchester United rumours

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Fake rumours spread online have caused some concern among Newcastle United supporters ahead of Sunday’s clash versus Tottenham Hotspur.

Newcastle United fans have reacted to the appointment of David Coote as match referee for Sunday afternoon’s Premier League top-four clash against Tottenham Hotspur (kick-off 2pm).

Eddie Howe’s side can take another step towards making their Champions League dream a reality as a win at St James’ Park will take them six points above fifth-place Spurs, still with a game in hand to play.

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And with what is potentially at stake, the Magpies will be hoping to avoid VAR controversy now more than ever. VAR was heavily involved during United’s recent win at Brentford after the controversial awarding of a penalty, and the disallowing of Callum Wilson’s goal.

As such, some Newcastle supporters on social media have voiced their concern about Coote’s appointment as referee amid internet rumours that the Nottingham-born official is a Manchester United fan. The Red Devils are also in the race for the top four - currently sitting three points above the Magpies.

Indeed, the same scenario occurred in the build-up to February’s Carabao Cup final when a fake image emerged online. It showed Coote’s alleged Facebook page with a generic image of Old Trafford as his cover photo.

However, it has been confirmed by the Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOL) that Coote is a Notts County fan. Rules state referees in England cannot take charge of a game involving a team they support, or their bitter rivals.

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Michael Oliver, a boyhood Newcastle fan who has refereed in the Premier League for almost a decade, explained how it works.

“I never referee Newcastle games,” Oliver said. “We have to declare if we have an allegiance to any club or if a family member works at a club. You can’t do any match involving that team and I can’t do Sunderland, either, for obvious reasons.

“Because Newcastle are invariably involved in a relegation battle, when you get to March or April, it means I can’t referee anyone around them towards the bottom three.

“If Newcastle needed a point to survive and the team they were fighting to get above was say Villa, I couldn’t referee Villa’s game either. I wouldn’t want to. It’s not worth the hassle.”

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Coote’s appearance in the Carabao Cup final, which Newcastle lost 2-0 at Wembley, is the only game the 40-year-old has overseen involving Howe’s side this campaign.

He’ll be assisted by Simon Bennett and Timothy Wood on Sunday, while John Brooks is the fourth official. On VAR duty is Neil Swarbrick, assisted by Richard West.

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