As I turned on the Manchester City FA Cup match towards the end of March, my ears pricked up when I heard the BBC commentator mention that it could well be Mike Dean’s last FA Cup tie as the referee is retiring at the end of the season.
The joy on Twitter at this news was in danger of triggering a call from the celebration police.
Now, the referee has confirmed his plans in an interview with The Athletic.
“Times have moved on, referees are getting older, I am not getting as fit as I used to be, so things have got to change,” Dean said.
“I have made the decision myself, I have gone out on my terms which is what I wanted to do and nobody else’s terms which is good.
“I will miss when the season starts next season and not walking out to referee a game, but I have had a good innings with 22 years.
“It is time to move on and see what is in the future maybe we don’t know yet, but we will see.”
Dean was meant to retire at the end of last season but made a u-turn after the the pandemic forced many games to be played behind-closed-doors.
There were reports that Dean would remain involved as an officially dedicated to VAR, but he added, “Contrary to reports and speculation, I have been offered no VAR role at all, that is just word of mouth I think.
“It could be there if I wanted to go for it, but I don’t know yet. I need to keep my options open and see what is available.”
Some in the media suggested Dean wanted to see out his final season with fans in the stadium.
Of course, Mike Dean has been the least of Arsenal’s refereeing problems for a while now, having been surpassed by newer, even worse models.
Few of those, however, are able to deliver their awful decisions with quite the same dramatic flair as the 53-year-old who will have refereed in the top flight for 22 seasons at the end of this season.
There is, of course, always the possibility that he could replace Mike Riley as the head of the referees’ association, but let’s leave that horror aside for another time.