John Brooks had been due to officiate at Tuesday night's FA Cup third-round replay between West Brom and QPR, instantly sparking suggestions that he had been stood down as a punishment.
Brooks had been pictured live on TV telling City stars to go and applaud fans who had made the expensive trip to the Emirates Stadium for Sunday's match, saying, "They've paid 62 quid over there, go and see them."
His words instantly made him a cult hero among fans, who had long been protesting about high prices even before City were forced to return 912 of their 3,000 allocated tickets for the high-profile match against Arsenal due to fans refusing to pay the £62.
The embarrassment caused to both Arsenal and the Premier League had been intensified during the game first as fans used banners to protest the high prices.
Their protest was made yet more poignant in the eyes of many by the ludicrously heavy-handed reaction to that protest, with police being called in to tell the City supporters to take down their sign.
The referees' body insist that Brooks was stood down only to "take him out of the limelight", but his treatment has sparked suggestions across social networking sites that the Premier League has stepped in to crack down on the negative publicity over ticket prices.
Prices have been steadily rising over the past 20 years, five times the rate of inflation according to a BBC survey in October - and it is not just supporters who are convinced that the high prices are stopping genuine fans from enjoying the game.
"I think it will prevent the next generation from really seeing live football other than on very unusual occasions every so often when clubs will give the tickets away," said FA chairman Lord Triesman recently.
"Most of the causes of the increases are driven by the salaries paid to players. As it is, it will become a sport in which relatively well-off people will be able to go and watch it live and nobody else. That seems to me to be a tragic historic reverse."
Are Premier League ticket prices too high? Is the silencing of the City fans protest and the treatment of linesman John Brooks acceptable? Or are clubs justified in charging such high prices so long as fans are willing to pay? Have your say in the comments box below.
- Sports & Recreation