Final whistle: goodbye to Mike Dean, the Premier League ref the fans love to hate

After 22 years, 560 games, 2,000 yellow cards and 114 reds, it’s time for the controversial man in black to step downThat most insistent of matchday questions, touching on mysteries of identity and masculinity – “who’s the wanker in the black?” – has rarely felt a more pointed psychological inquiry than when directed by 25,000 partisan voices toward Mike Dean.Football referees have always been lightning rods for more general frustration with authority figures, but the Premier League era, with its overpaid pundits and its multiple camera angles, has amplified that discontent. Dean, the elite league’s most visible man in the middle for 22 years, has refereed 560 matches, dished out more than 2,000 yellow cards and a record 114 reds (at a significantly higher rate than any of his peers). He has also invited – and enjoyed – the attention that goes with that decision-making more than most.