SOUTHEND United fans were left pointing the finger at referee Darren Deadman after he appeared to aim an obscene gesture in their direction during Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Fleetwood Town.
Disgruntled supporters complained to nearby stewards and gave statements to the police claiming Deadman raised two fingers towards them in the 28th minute of the match at the Highbury Stadium.
And Blues supporter Chris Bent was among those on the terrace stunned by what he saw.
“It happened right in front me and it came after someone shouted out ‘Deadman, you’re s**t as always’,” said Bent, 40, from Pitsea.
“He had his back to the Blues fans and with his left hand rubbed the back of his head with two fingers to give the crowd the V sign.
“He then turned and smirked at us and he knew full well what he’d done.
“His guard slipped and he had a human reaction.
“The abuse wasn’t that bad but I’ve never seen an official do that before and many of the supporters around me were quite put out by it.”
That included Rayleigh-based Ian Holmes, who revealed the incident happened after a Blues fan had earlier been ejected from the ground for swearing after Anthony Straker had had an early goal ruled out for Paul Sturrock’s side.
“I’m sure the referee will say he was scratching his head but there should be an investigation in to this,” said Holmes, 49.
“He needs to explain his actions and it was hard to take after a Southend fan had been thrown out for swearing.”
Lifelong Blues fan Dan Clark, 34 from Stockport, added: “Deadman should be suspended while the incident is looked into, because what he did was absolutely appalling.
“What he did was inciting the crowd and he 110 per cent meant it, I’m sure.”
The Echo also understands that members of the Southend coaching staff complained to the fourth official at half-time about how Deadman (pictured above) was talking to the players.
Blues were not willing to comment on the matter while both Fleetwood Town and Lancashire Police were unavailable for comment.