Referee Darren Drysdale is dropped by PGMOL from match at the weekend

Referee Darren Drysdale is DROPPED – on his 50th birthday – from League One match between Southend and Bolton on Saturday… with the RAF sergeant charged by the FA for improper conduct after squaring up to Ipswich’s Alan Judge

  • Darren Drysdale was charged after squaring up to Alan Judge on Tuesday 
  • Drysdale, who turned 50 today, apologised to Judge and Ipswich on Wednesday 
  • The official has now been taken off his scheduled weekend game in League One
  • The PGMOL have replaced the RAF sergeant for Southend versus Bolton

Darren Drysdale will not referee his scheduled match this weekend following his altercation with Ipswich’s Alan Judge on Tuesday. 

Drysdale, an RAF sergeant from Lincolnshire, was charged with improper conduct by the FA after squaring up to Judge in the latter stages of Ipswich’s game against Northampton. 

After apologising on Wednesday, the PGMOL have now taken Drysdale – who turned 50 today – off the League One clash between Southend and Bolton on Saturday, replacing him with Declan Bourne. 

Darren Drysdale (centre) has been taken off his weekend game after squaring up to Alan Judge

Drysdale appeared to lean into the head of Judge in Tuesday’s League One tie with Northampton and the official has now apologised

In his statement via the PGMOL, Drysdale admitted he had done wrong and apologised to Judge and Ipswich Town. 

‘I fully understand that it is important to maintain our composure throughout the game and always engage with players in a professional manner,’ he said. 

‘I’m sorry that I did not do that last night and I can only apologise to Alan and Ipswich Town.’

Ipswich midfielder Judge, meanwhile, insisted he was not looking for an apology from Drysdale nor pressing an FA Charge, saying: ‘Referees have a tough job to do and it was heat of the moment stuff that happens in football.

Both Judge and Drysdale had to be separated by several players as the scuffle continued

‘The photo makes it look worse than it was and to be honest, the matter was finished with from my end as soon as I walked off the pitch.

‘I wasn’t looking for the referee to apologise; I wasn’t looking for him to be charged. There was never going to be a complaint from me and I made that clear.

‘Like I said, for me – it was finished with straight away.’

Ipswich boss Paul Lambert revealed he contacted the EFL to complain about the incident

But an FA statement on Wednesday evening said: ‘Darren Drysdale has been charged with a breach of FA Rule E3 following Tuesday night’s EFL League One game between Ipswich Town FC and Northampton Town FC. 

‘It is alleged that the match official’s behaviour during the 90th minute of the game amounts to improper conduct and he has until Thursday 4 March 2021 to provide a response.’ 

Sportsmail columnist and former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg said of the incident: ‘All referees, even when abused, need to keep self discipline. They must show restraint and maintain professionalism.’  

The referee has, however, received support from a number of players on social media, including Aston Villa’s England internationals Jack Grealish and Tyrone Mings.

Drysdale has also worked as an RAF Sergeant alongside his career in refereeing

Grealish wrote: ‘Ah come on?! No need to apologise at all! I think it’s brilliant.’

And his team-mate Mings believes more needs to be done to ensure referees receive respect from players.

‘Refs and officials put up with a lot from players. I’m sure he isn’t proud of it but in the world we’re living in, I think you can allow for some compassion when people don’t always act as they should,’ Mings replied to a tweet.


Alongside his refereeing, Darren Drysdale is also a RAF veteran and has been stationed in several countries, including Libya, Gilbraltar and Cyprus. 

Drysdale was stationed for four months out in Iraq in 2003 along with his wife Wendy – who worked in the HR recruitment sector. 

He told the EFL official website back in 2012: ‘It was probably the lowest point in my life. I processed the prisoners of war and the bombs were dropping left, right and centre. 

‘You just couldn’t help but wonder: ‘has the next one got my name on it?’ You couldn’t see an end to it. Every day felt like three days. It was very stressful.’

During his time in Iraq, he was voted the Combined Services Sports Official of the Year in 2003. He received the award from the Princess Royal at the RAF Club in London. 

Drysdale’s route into refereeing began way before his army days, running the line as a 15-year-old for his father – who was also an official. 

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