All Sunderland supporters, and all followers of football with a shred of common sense and fairness, will hope – and pray, if they pray – the club succeed in the appeal against Wes Brown’s staggering unjust dismissal at Stoke City.
The club has confirmed it will make that appeal. We can assume Gus Poyet did not, in the event, receive a Monday morning phone call from Mike Riley apologising for Kevin Friend’s dreadful, possibly match-deciding mistake. Perhaps Riley had his telephone work cut out what with all those “I’m sorry” calls to Cardiff, Man City and Liverpool concerning the charitable yellows dished out to Messrs Rooney, Vertonghen and Mirillas for red card offences.
Just don’t take it for granted the FA will apply logic and a sense of proportion to the case. There is previous here: Michael Turner’s red card from Andre Marriner at Man City, almost as preposterous, was upheld and a fourth game added to the suspension. The appeal was deemed frivolous.
We are not in the realms of real English here. The rejection of an appeal does not mean it had no merit and such an appeal cannot therefore be considered frivolous. It’s just the rules, innit!
The appealing player, or the club on his behalf, cannot win on the balance of probabilities or because reasonable doubt exists. The sending off cannot be overturned because it was harsh; it has to be clearly and demonstrably wrong – “an obvious error” according the FA video explaining it – and that is a hard test. Oh, and neither club nor player can be present at the appeal; all done on reports and filmed evidence.
So no one should hold their breath. In natural justice, Brown would be deemed to have committed no foul at all and would be free to turn out for the Lads at Villa Park on Saturday. Just be warned: he may be sitting out the first game of a suspension and that suspension could even be prolonged under the frankly idiotic FA rule.
Here we go with some reactions:
Ex Stoke and Sunderland player Danny Higginbotham:
What an awful decision that was. Not even worthy of a free-kick never mind a red card
Robbie Savage and Ian Wright:
worst decision ever
Alan Hansen on Match of the Day:
I think it’s an absolute joke. He gets 100 per cent of the ball. He’s got it totally wrong
Former ref Dermot Gallagher
I can keep this very short. We have to take it smack on the chin. The referee has lost concentration or not seen it. It is not a red card, that’s all you can say. Brown’s gone in hard but he’s entitled to do that. As a refereeing body you have to take that smack on the chin
Kristian Walsh, Daily Telegraph:
It was something Sunderland manager Gus Poyet also pondered, muttered and then shouted after watching defender Wes Brown see red against Stoke City for kicking the ball with unnecessary force.
Two footed tackle? No. Not in control of his body? No. Over the ball? No. In danger of the opponent? No. Contact? No.
Stoke Sentinel newspaper (click here):
Wearing a neutral’s hat for just one moment, it’s difficult to justify Brown walking and Begovic staying.
Mark Hughes (adapted by M Salut)
Of course he was right, We got three points. didn’t we?
From Monsieur Salut on tour at ESPN (http://espnfc.com/blog/_/name/sunderland/id/2405?cc=5739):
Friend reached instantly for red. Poyet was livid, the Sunderland players were utterly incredulous, Friend was unmoved. He should be moved now, to a humbling spell of refereeing Sunday park football. This is the same official who, four years ago, saw no need for punishment of any kind when Jermain Defoe broke the Sunderland keeper Craig Gordon’s arm with a horrendous challenge; later in the same game at White Hart Lane, he also failed to dismiss the Spurs keeper Heurelho Gomes for his last-man, penalty-conceding foul on Darren Bent.
…the second half did offer Friend an opportunity to show a semblance of balance, when the Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic came flying out, studs airborne, to clatter into Steven Fletcher. Penalty? Red card? Friend seemed bemused that anyone would see a problem with the tackle.