Billy Knott is facing a three-game ban for dangerous play with the Imps set to appeal the suspension. I would imagine the appeal is already in and it wouldn’t surprise me if the FA are not mulling it over as we speak.
I’ve had the pleasure of watching a couple of key incidents from the match again, and I have four key reasons why the only decision the FA should make is to rescind the card and let Billy play against Barnet tomorrow. It won’t bring back Saturday, it won’t give us the final 60 minutes of the game or the £50 we all spent going there, but it will redress the balance slightly.
- Billy has been sent off for endangering an opponent. The more I have watched the incident, the more I fail to understand how it is not Ryan Yates that has endangered himself. The point of contact is below waist height, surely the usual method of challenging for a ball in this position is by foot? Billy doesn’t see Ryan Yates coming in, and in truth it is Yates himself causing the problem by stooping in so low as to be caught. At no point is Billy even aware there is another player coming in to challenge, which immediately dispels any similarities with the much-quoted Sadio Mane incident a couple of weeks ago.
- The referee was unsighted at the point of contact. When the so-called foul occurred Billy had his back to the referee and Seb Stockbridge was stood behind one of their players also. Unless he has x-ray vision (which I am assuming he does not) he can’t actually have seen the contact clearly. Also, the linesman didn’t flag and wasn’t consulted. In my opinion the referee has issued a red card on guesswork alone, and if he has tried to back-up his claims in a report after the game then he’s lying. The club can’t say it, but having watched the replay time and again there is no way he has a clear view of what happens.
- Jon Stead finished very well for their goal, but in doing so he has raised his foot above waist height. Behind him our player is contesting with his feet: if he’d stooped in with his head would Stead also have been sent off? His foot is raised just as high, surely the offence is the same. If we’re saying no because our defender wasn’t endangered it opens up a dangerous can of worms as we’d essentially be saying it isn’t the offender at fault, but the player around him. Of course Jon Stead’s goal should have stood in exactly the same at Billy Knott should have been on the field when it was scored.
- What has made me really mad, even madder than I was yesterday, is watching back Jorge Grant’s challenge on Sean Raggett. Raggs hasn’t even stooped and he’s been kicked in the face. If Billy is a red card, Jorge Grant was a red card too. In truth if Billy’s was a yellow card, Grant’s is a red. Grant has his foot at shoulder height and Raggs is leaning towards the ball as he goes for it. I find it utterly inconceivable that a so-called professional referee adjudged one a red card and not the other. If we are to appeal and the Grant foul is also shown to the FA then I can only imagine either a: Knott’s will be rescinded, or b: Grant will also be given a three match suspension for endangering an opponent. As for Sam’s yellow card for protesting the decision, ludicrous once again.
I may be labouring on a point here, but having reviewed the evidence it highlights the awful standard of officiating we endured on Saturday. Seb Stockbridge didn’t score their four goals and the result may have gone either way if we’d had eleven men on the field, but any self-respecting football fan that has a chance to see all three incident discussed above would have to agree, certainly on point four. The highlights are on YouTube but possibly with Grant’s challenge omitted, iFollow subscribers can now watch the footage and decide for themselves.
The FA have a chance to redeem themselves here, but I’d wager they do no such thing. They’ll stand by their man, and whilst they do I’m afraid the integrity of the game will always be compromised, and the standard of officiating will always be, for want of a better word, shit.