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Stoke chairman accuses refs of favouring top clubs

Stoke City's chairman Peter Coates has accused the Premier League's top referees of big-club bias after again falling victim to a perceived injustice, reports The Guardian. Coates was left angered by recent decisions in matches against Newcastle, Liverpool and Spurs, the former resulting in an official complaint made against Martin Atkinson.

"The game changes when the referee gives a penalty for the merest of touches. The player dived," Coates told the Sentinel. "There was also a handball by Sterling before the penalty, one the linesman didn't see, and that is a game changer.

"We are again victims of poor refereeing and I am sick of it. We had it against Newcastle and Tottenham, and now Liverpool. You get fed up with it because these are big decisions that affect the games you play in, so you are bound to get very upset by it.

"It is well known that the big clubs, especially at home, but often away too, get the big shouts. I am not questioning any referee's integrity, it's human nature. It's always been like that and it never changes."

Coates believes previous comments from the Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers about decisions that went against his own team in games with Chelsea and Manchester City may have played a part in Taylor's thinking.

"If you remember, Brendan Rodgers was rather annoyed not to get a penalty recently," added Coates. "He made a big play of it and the media made a big play of it, so you do wonder if it crosses the referee's mind. I am not accusing referees of cheating, just acting subconsciously under various different pressures."

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Dave Williams

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