Mike Dean was accused of hogging the limelight after failing to send off Aston Villa keeper Sam Johnstone against Middlesbrough.
Johnstone deliberately handled the ball outside the penalty area in the 87th minute of the play-off second leg.
His “save” massively slowed down Adama Traore’s shot and allowed John Terry to clear the ball.
Dean, previously branded the “celebrity ref”, only showed a yellow card to the stopper – leaving Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis fuming.
Stewart Downing hit the crossbar with the subsequent free-kick and Boro’s hopes of Premier League promotion were dashed as Villa ran out 1-0 winners over two legs.
Boro boss Pulis was clearly frustrated with the lack of action by Dean.
He said: “I’m really disappointed.
“Everybody understands the rules and you need him to make the correct decision. I don’t think he’s made the correct decision.
“Personally, I think it was the wrong decision and I’m sure there’s a lot of people watching who’d agree with me.”
Fans were also left fuming at “joker” Dean.
FA rules state: “Where a player denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by a deliberate handball offence the player is sent off wherever the offence occurs.”
Arsenal legend Paul Merson insists Johnstone, 25, should have been sent off.
Speaking on Sky Sports, he said: “All day long, that’s a goal.
“He takes the pace off the ball when he touches it and it just drifts.
“That’s a goal and a sending off. He would have scored that and it’s a different game.”
But Merson claims Middlesbrough have only themselves to blame for failing to score at Villa Park.
He said: “I was disappointed. I thought I’d come here tonight and see Middlesbrough jump out the traps. They needed to make it a gung-ho game because they have the pace in their team.
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“But nothing happened. It was extraordinary.”
Dean, 49, was last month blasted as “arrogant” by Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier after missing Marcos Alonso’s stamp on Shane Long.
The Tranmere-born ref has become a social media phenomenon after a compilation of his most memorable moments were shared.
His highlights package includes footage of him “celebrating” a Tottenham goal, winking at TV cameras and appearing frustrated after a team failed to capitalise on the advantage he allowed them.