Lee Mason

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For the Australian actor, see Lee Mason (actor).
Lee Mason
Lee mason.jpg
Mason issues a red card during a match in 2010
Full name Lee Stephen Mason[1]
Born (1971-10-29) 29 October 1971 (age 43)
Bolton, Greater Manchester, England
Years League Role
1992–1996 North West Counties League Assistant referee
1996–1998 North West Counties League Referee
1998–2000 Football League Assistant referee
2000–2002 Premier League Assistant referee
2002–2006 Football League Referee
2006– Premier League Referee

Lee Stephen Mason (born 29 October 1971)[2] is an English professional football referee from Bolton, Greater Manchester. Since 2006 Mason has been on the list of Select Group Referees who officiate primarily in the Premier League.[2]

He is a former chairman of the Bolton Referees' Society and is a member of the Lancashire County Football Association. His younger brother Andy is a former professional footballer who played for Bolton Wanderers, among others.[3]


Mason attended the Liverpool Institute of Higher Education between 1990 and 1993, living in Newman Hall, where he gained his degree. Whilst there he played for his college football team as well as being a regular compere, hosting a variety of social events at a students' union club.


Mason took up the whistle in 1988, officiating in the Bolton Boys' Federation League. He previously worked in the car rental industry.[4] In 1992 he was added to the North West Counties Football League assistant referees' list, and progressed to referee in that league four years later. He was included on the Football League list of assistant referees in 1998, and was added to the Premier League assistant referees' list in 2000.

In 2002, he was promoted to referee in the Football League, and his first match at that level was a Third Division match between Shrewsbury Town and Exeter on 10 August 2002, won 1–0 by the home side.[5]

Also in 2002, he took charge of that year's FA County Youth Cup final between Birmingham and Durham, which Birmingham won 2–1.[6]

Mason became a Development Group referee in 2003, and finally reached the Premier League list of Select Group Referees in 2006. His first Premier League appointment came on 4 February 2006, when Middlesbrough lost 4–0 at home to Aston Villa.[7]

Later in 2006 he was appointed to referee the Football League One play-off final between Barnsley and Swansea City at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, which Barnsley won on penalties after a 2–2 draw after extra time.[8]

In 2008 Mason was widely criticised for his decision to send off Middlesbrough's Jérémie Aliadière after an altercation between Aliadiere and Liverpool's Javier Mascherano, while letting Mascherano off without even a booking.[9] Middlesbrough appealed the red card and were incensed when Aliadiere's ban was not only upheld by the FA, but increased by an extra match (to a total of 4 matches) on the grounds that their appeal had been "frivolous". In retaliation, Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson called the FA "amateurs and silly little men".[10]

In 2009 Mason refereed the FA Youth Cup final between Arsenal and Liverpool. Later that year he was handed a one-week demotion to the role of fourth official after his handling of a match between Fulham and Liverpool in which he sent off Liverpool players Jamie Carragher and Philipp Degen; Fulham ultimately won the fixture 3–1.[11]

Mason and his assistant referees came under criticism from Manchester United management in December 2010 for allowing a last-minute equaliser scored by Birmingham City to stand. A Birmingham cross into United's penalty area appeared to hit Nikola Žigić's arm and Lee Bowyer slid the ball home despite appearing to be offside. Birmingham manager Alex McLeish defended the decision to allow the goal, saying that Mason would have been "harsh if he had penalized [Žigić] for deliberate handball."[12]

Mason's decision on 8 April 2012 to send-off Shaun Derry for a professional foul in the 14th minute of a match against Manchester United was appealed by Queens Park Rangers after reviewing video replays. The referee awarded United a penalty kick when Derry appeared to foul Ashley Young. QPR manager Mark Hughes criticised Young for going to ground "too readily" and Mason for being "very quick" in giving the penalty despite Young being in an offside position when he received the ball.[13] However, the Football Association upheld the red card.[14]

He was widely praised in the press following his handling of a Football League Cup tie between Chelsea and Manchester United on 31 October 2012. The two teams had met three days prior in an incident-filled Premier League fixture which United won 3–2 and Chelsea had two players sent off. After that game, Chelsea made a formal complaint to the FA against the referee, Mark Clattenburg, about his alleged use of "inappropriate language" towards two of their players. During the League Cup match, Mason correctly awarded three penalties and was required to interpret and handle a number of other incidents. Chelsea won 5–4 after a 90th-minute penalty for the Blues, who were 3–2 down, forced the Cup tie into extra-time.[4][15]


Season Games Total Booked Booked per game Total Red card Red card per game
2002–03 24 94 3.92 3 0.13
2003–04 30 118 3.93 6 0.20
2004–05 36 108 3.00 3 0.08
2005–06 37 90 2.43 3 0.08
2006–07 33 87 2.64 3 0.09
2007–08 30 110 3.66 4 0.13
2008–09 34 132 3.88 8 0.23
2009–10 35 106 3.09 7 0.20
2010–11 33 135 4.09 5 0.15
2011–12 32 80 2.50 3 0.09
2012–13 30 107 3.57 3 0.10

Statistics are for all competitions. No records are available prior to 2002-03.[16]


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