In taking all the weekend’s Premier League incidents into account I feel there’s a strong case for taking the principle of the existing panels and using them to reverse things that go further than cards that are currently appealed, or the handful of simulation cases decided by the panel I sit on myself. One difference would obviously be that we only need one of our panel not to agree a case should go forward for it not to happen, whereas what I suggest would operate on a majority basis.
Having seen the overturning of Mohamed Elneny’s red card against Southampton, you could say that we got there in the end, but I would propose that we could have just as easily and fairly looked at, to take just two examples, Davy Propper’s red card against Huddersfield and Ashley Young’s lucky escape in the Manchester derby.
People did tend to compare Elneni’s push on Cedric Soares to Harry Maguire’s clash with Newcastle’s Kennedy, because both involved the raising of hands. While the letter of the law states that you are in trouble as soon as you do that, Harry being permitted to stay on the field did not affect the result, as Newcastle deserved to win, and, in general, I’d like to see fewer red cards waved around and players having to miss forthcoming games over incidents as minimal and petty as his and Elneni’s.
As a former player I also feel it is overly harsh that Brighton’s Propper is now going to be out for three games over a poor tackle, and that Anthony Taylor’s interpretation deserved another look just as much as Andre Marriner’s did in sending off both Jack Stephens and Elneni at the Emirates.
I was a guest on Match of the Day with Gary Lineker and Frank Lampard, and I remember agreeing in the studio that Young could easily have been dismissed.
Martin Atkinson has taken a lot of stick as a result of letting a blatant handball by Young go and then booking Aguero instead of awarding a penalty when the same player took him out in the second half.
It’s not just Ashley Young I’m talking about here by the way, it could be anyone who has got away with anything for whatever reason. I also felt, incidentally, that Atkinson really deserved more useful input from his assistant, Stephen Child, who was far better placed.
The more we watched it, the more you had to accept that, while it was a definite penalty, he has actually got the ball and is not necessarily meaning for his foot to change angle as it came off the ball the way it did.
We can all agree on the desire to get more decisions right and with that I think there is an obligation to punish those who may have got away with something naughty for some random reason such as the referee being unsighted, for example, as Atkinson appeared to be at the Etihad.
Differences of opinion are all well and good, as anyone who saw me and Frank disagree several times will hopefully have welcomed, and they are part of what we all love about the game of football.
Ultimately, however, what we are all hoping for is that the rule book can leave enough discretion for the ref to manage a game properly, and that, sadly, is all too often not the case.