Rather predictably, both City and Plymouth have been fined for the melee that took place at the end of our 2-2 draw earlier in the month.
In the final minutes, just after our goal, Chris Maguire contested a loose ball on the touchline. The Plymouth player, whose name escapes me, thought it had gone out, reached down and grabbed it, giving away a free-kick. Maguire and him got into a shoving match after he hung onto the ball, and he pushed our man to the ground. That prompted players from both sides to pile in, and to be fair, it looked unsavoury from both groups. Order was eventually restored, the referee gave us the free-kick, and we all moved on.
Oddly, the incident was clearly included in the referee’s report, leading to a charge of failing to control our players. As a result, we’ve been fined £2750, with the visitors getting £2500. I’m not surprised at the fines, I am surprised that nothing was made of it on the field. Surely, if the incident was sufficient to be included in a report, there should have been a yellow card or two? Their lad definitely deserved one, and Montsma put himself about in a manner that would have got me riled had it been the other way around. How can the incident not be punished on the field, but instead dealt with retrospectively? Surely, the person who failed to control the players is the referee, who lost control of the moment, than sat back like a Mum at the park with unruly kids running riot, as if it wasn’t her (his) problem.
Sadly, there is nothing on the FA website that substantiated the reasons the referee did not take any action. £2750 isn’t a huge fine, but it is a fine, nonetheless. Doubtless, Ryan Lowe will have it on good authority it shouldn’t have been a fine, or a penalty, as he seems to have a direct line to the referee’s chief. If he has, it might be worth asking why Andy Woolmer did not take action if the offences were of such a serious nature they warranted a fine.
My problem here is the complete lack of transparency from match officials, something I feel should change. There might be a good reason why he took no action, but as they’re such a closed shop, we have to rely on hearsay and half-truths. It’s the same when Ryan lowe rolls out the classic ‘I’ve been told it wasn’t a penalty by…’ as he has on two occasions in two seasons. For me, that creates a situation that is uncertain and unpleasant. Next time we don’t get a penalty, our fans may think we’re not getting them because of Lowe’s comments, and it adds to hostility towards the match officials.
I recall seeing a clip once of a referee giving an interview after a game (I think it was Burnley in the Coca Cola Cup in the 90s), I’ve actually just lost 30 minutes going down a rabbit hole looking for it. Anyway, he came out and gave reasons for decisions he’d made. Whether we agreed with those reasons is irrelevant; I think that’s important and would help fans understand. It’s like opinions – I respect people’s opinions if they back them up. I might not agree, but if someone has a reason for believing what they do, it helps you understand. I don’t feel the same about opinions that go ‘he’s rubbish’ and when quizzed why you get the reply ‘he just is’. The same goes for referees; if Andy Woolmer had spoken afterwards and clarified why no punishment was given at the time, we could at least understand it.
Instead, we just have to wait for the fine in the post. Cheers.