Newcastle United v Brighton: Premier League make controversial call amid Liverpool-linked appointment

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The Premier League have confirmed the match officials for Newcastle United v Brighton - and it should raise eyebrows among the Magpies fanbase.

Newcastle United host Brighton and Hove Albion on Thursday night in a massive fixture under the lights at St James’ Park (kick-off 8pm).

Following an outstanding 2022-23 campaign so far, Eddie Howe’s side have the opportunity to achieve something beyond everybody’s initial expectations by sealing Champions League qualification.

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A Europa League spot is already guaranteed but United can go one step better and secure a return to Europe’s elite for the first time in 20 years - if they claim six points from their remaining three fixtures.

Newcastle’s fate is firmly in their own hands, although the resurgence of fifth-place Liverpool has brought some panic to Tyneside. Jurgen Klopp’s side’s 3-0 win at Leicester City on Monday night - their seventh in a row - means they sit just one point behind.

Controversial appointment

Indeed, it is for that reason why the Premier League’s decision to appoint Merseyside-based Robert Jones as match referee for the game against Brighton should raise questions.

 Referee Robert Jones during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Chelsea FC at Emirates Stadium on May 02, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images) Referee Robert Jones during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Chelsea FC at Emirates Stadium on May 02, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)
Referee Robert Jones during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Chelsea FC at Emirates Stadium on May 02, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Jones is understood to be part of the Wirral FA and has never refereed a Liverpool or Everton match since being promoted as Premier League official ahead of the 2020-21 season. The Wirral is a borough of Merseyside and is situated just six miles away from Liverpool.

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Previous visits to St James’ Park

That said, in the two Newcastle matches Jones has overseen this campaign, Eddie Howe’s side have recorded 1-0 wins over Chelsea and Fulham at St James’ Park.

In the game against Fulham, Jones awarded a penalty to the visitors after reviewing a challenge by Kieran Trippier on Bobby Decordova-Reid at the VAR pitchside monitor.

Aleksander Mitrovic scored his penalty but Jones disallowed it after spotting the Serbian had kicked the ball twice before hitting the back of the net. Alexander Isak then scored an injury-time winner.

Jones will be assisted by Ian Hussin and Wade Smith. The fourth is Thomas Bramal, while Jarred Gillett and Adam Nunn are on VAR duty.

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NewcastleWorld has approached the Premier League for clarity in relation to this appointment.

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