11 v 11

Should the red card receive its marching orders?

Red Card

So, Sofiane Feghouli’s red card was rescinded and he can now play, if selected, (and I hope he is) against Manchester City in the FA Cup third round game. I was horrified to read some so-called West Ham fans writing on twitter that as it was only Feghouli it wouldn’t have made much difference anyway! So many are quick to judge new signings based upon limited evidence. Unlike some I have high hopes in respect of Feghouli. He had a superb game in one of our early European matches this season, and even in the first 15 minutes of the United game showed some great touches. He has been injured, but now that he has recovered I think that he will prove some doubters wrong in the games to come.

Although it was possibly one of the most ridiculous sending off decisions I have witnessed in over 58 years of watching football, I did wonder about the outcome of the appeal, as we are in the hands of an FA three-person commission, and it is hard to predict what will happen sometimes. However on this occasion, if the appeal had been rejected, then it would have been against the views of around 99% of people who witnessed the incident and those who reported upon it in the media.

But many of you may remember the Swansea Chico Flores incident, when Andy Carroll was dismissed by Howard Webb after Flores gave an amazing display of acting, even worse than that of Jones the other evening. West Ham appealed but the red card stood. The three-man commission had voted 2-1 so it was obviously a close decision, and the fact that it was Howard Webb, reputedly the top referee in the country at the time (debatable in my opinion), may have swung it against Carroll. That same weekend Danny Rose had his red card rescinded.

It’s terrible that a footballer would try to get a fellow professional sent off, and even worse that referees fall for it. But Jones succeeded by the manner of his twisting, arching his back, and rolling over, and Manchester United went on to claim the three points, however unjustly. I’m afraid that I don’t agree with the “these things even themselves out over the season” lobby, as I’m afraid they don’t. It’s quite a co-incidence how the big clubs always seem to be the winners in these situations.

Unlike many people who sit in the stands to watch West Ham, I hate to see it when any player is sent off, whether it is one of ours or one of our opponents. Many fans seem to love it when an opposition player is dismissed, but I don’t. It totally spoils the entertainment and generally makes for a very unbalanced game, usually attack v defence. The team with 11 usually win, though not always, and West Ham have in the past showed that we are not the best team around to exploit a man advantage.

We’ve had a few players sent off in recent seasons and a surprising number have been rescinded, and perhaps even more should have been. A good referee should only dismiss players when he is absolutely certain that it is the correct decision to do so. The entertainment of thousands (and sometimes millions for TV games) can be spoiled by an incorrect action.

But I would like to see a change in the laws, and no players to be sent off. Instead, if a player commits what is considered to be a red card offence, then the referee can hold up a red card but the player stays on the field. The team he plays for will have one point deducted for every red card issued. A player could even receive more than one red card in a match. You could even have a similar deduction if say, three yellow cards are issued against one team in a single match.

If the punishment affects the team’s points then managers will soon instil in their players the need to avoid these situations. I can foresee a big improvement in dissent from players, too. The player can still be punished after the game by fines, and or bans, and appeals can still be heard, although these should be by a bigger committee, and should be openly witnessed, and not held secretly. Anybody who has seen televised stewards’ objections in horse racing disputes will agree that open viewing is an excellent way to show justice being done.

By implementing this change where no player is sent off, but points deducted instead, the teams and players will still be punished where the decision is proved to be a correct one, they will avoid punishment if it is judged to be incorrect on appeal, but the main beneficiaries will be the spectators who will not have their entertainment ruined by inept referees.

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