IN THE MATTER OF THE INDEPENDENT REGULATORY COMMISSION OF THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION
THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION
DECISION AND WRITTEN REASONS OF THE REGULATORY COMMISSION
The hearing on liability took place in Wembley Stadium on 26, 27 and 28 October 2020. The composition of the Regulatory Commission was the Rt Hon Lord Mike Dean, Chairman, Bradley Walsh and Garth Crooks. Mr Forsyth’s leading counsel was Mr David Bettis QC. Leading counsel for The FA was Mr Stuart Ripley.
1. These are the written reasons for a decision made by an Independent Regulatory Commission which sat by video conference on 26, 27 and 28 October 2020.
2. The Regulatory Commission members were advised on the Laws of the Game by Mr Pierluigi Collina of the Referee Advisory Panel. In particular, the Law relating to ‘Violent Conduct’ and the factors considered by a Match Official when determining such an incident. Mr Collina demonstrated by punching Mr Stuart Ripley in the face repeatedly, before sending himself off. He remained available to answer questions with regard to the Laws of the Game, however, took no part in discussions concerning the actual specifics of the case (quote: “I honestly don’t know or care what AFC Div 1 South is”).
3. In order for a claim of Wrongful Dismissal to be successful, the Player and his Club must establish by the evidence it submits that the Referee made an ‘obvious error’ in dismissing the Player.
4. The incident in question occurred in the Old Tiffinians Football Club (“OTFC” or “Greg Nutt’s Purp & White Army” or “Mighty Purps” or “the Club”) v Old Meadonians Football Club III (“them”) 1 South fixture which took place on Saturday 24 October 2020.
5. OTFC submitted a pencil drawing of the incident which included different angles of the challenge. This was supported by detailed written submissions from the club and a witness statement from the player, the contents of which the Commission read and discussed. It should be noted that the panel were distracted during the witness statement as Mr David Bettis QC simultaneously engaged Garth Crooks in a particularly engaging chat about the length of Southend Pier. Apparently it is the longest pleasure pier in the world.
6. The Regulatory Commission considered the relevant Laws of the Game in relation to Violent Conduct. It is defined as follows; Violent Conduct is when a player uses or attempts to use excessive force or brutality against an opponent when not challenging for the ball, or against a team-mate, team official, match official, spectator or any other person, regardless of whether contact is made.
7. The following practical information which is given to Match Officials was also considered:
- Does the player have a chance of playing the ball in a fair manner?
- What degree of speed or intensity is the player using when making the challenge?
- Is the player crap at football?
- Are all players, supporters and match officials involved also spectacularly incompetent?
- Is it a wet, windy, miserable day where bambi fines are commonplace?
- This list is not exhaustive nor is it a requirement that all elements are made out to satisfy the offence.
8. Having viewed the line drawing of the incident supplied by the player on numerous occasions and in great detail, the Regulatory Commission agreed unanimously that they were unable to conclude that the Referee had made an obvious error in his interpretation of the incident.
OTFC submitted that the opponent had “made a meal of it” and that their player was “attempting to stop a quick counterattack with a cynical trip, but is just really, really unsubtle and cannot tackle for the life of him”. At the point of contact, the Club respectfully submitted that their player’s actions were not consistent with a forceful or brutal challenge which endangered the opponent’s safety. The Club submitted that they were not worthy of a red card and a yellow card would have been suitable punishment.
9. This account was not accepted by the Commission due to the lack of legible evidence, stating “this is one of the worst drawings I have ever seen. Is this a pizza express napkin?”
The commission did accept the evidence presented by the Club that the player was indeed “not that type of player”, “is crap, slow, and probably knackered because he’d played for an hour with a hangover” and is “admittedly bad at drawing legs, sorry, we encouraged him not to submit the drawing”, but concluded that this evidence alone was not enough to overturn the referee’s judgement.
For completeness, it is not the role of Regulatory Commission to usurp the referee or re-referee the incident. They mainly exist to have expensive lunches and so Bradley Walsh can attempt to persuade Mike Dean to appear on The Chase celebrity special.
10. Accordingly, it was the unanimous view of the Regulatory Commission that the referee did not make an obvious error in dismissing the player pursuant to the Laws of the Game.
11. Three game ban upheld – now for goodness sake let’s all go for lunch already. Mr Forsyth please get up off the floor and stop weeping. No you may not join us for lunch Mr Bettis, and will you please stop sitting on Garth’s lap. He’s asked you to stop twirling his tie twice already. Security! Pardon? You didn’t want me to minute thi…? Ahh.
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