IRISH LEAGUE: Stafford red card rescinded but Linfield call for referees’ review

Referee Raymond Hetherington during Wednesday's League Cup tie. Pic by Pacemaker.
Referee Raymond Hetherington during Wednesday's League Cup tie. Pic by Pacemaker.

Linfield defender Mark Stafford last night had his red card rescinded - but it failed to prevent his club from urging the Irish Football Association to improve the standard of refereeing in this country!

Referee Raymond Hetherington was in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons in Wednesday night’s Bet McLean League Cup tie at Seaview.

The Dungannon official had no hesitation in showing Crusaders midfielder David Cushley a red card following a meaty collision with Stafford.

But after consulting with his officials on the touchline, Hetherington reversed his decision, rescinding Cushley’s red card before flashing it at Stafford.

It is understood Hetherington and his officials yesterday (Thursday) reviewed the incident before deciding to rescind Stafford’s dismissal.

But Linfield last night issued a statement claiming the mistakes are now happening at an alarming rate.

“The Club wishes to put on record its extreme disappointment that yet another significant error by officials with vital implications has gone against the Club,” it stated. “We have now witnessed costly mistakes by match officials at Coleraine and Ballinamallard, resulting in either the loss of league points or unwarranted disciplinary sanctions against a player.

“Those mistakes follow on from a series of refereeing errors during the course of last season, including a well-publicised incident at Glenavon, which cost the Club points.

“The Club recently highlighted the fact that incorrect decisions in professional football can have costly consequences and called on those involved in running the local game to make every effort to improve standards and increase confidence in those officiating at our games.

“And, the latest incident has further heightened this Club’s lack of confidence in our match officials.

“Although we accept the latest error and the dismissal of Mark Stafford has been rescinded, we cannot continue to tolerate a situation where the outcome of crucial games is being so heavily influenced by obvious mistakes from our match officials.

“Linfield Football Club calls on the IFA’s Referees’ Committee to urgently examine these incidents and to ensure that those involved are held to account for their actions.

“We also urge a full review of refereeing to be carried out by the IFA in order to put clearly needed plans in place to improve the quality for the future.

“This will require a significant financial investment to deliver the required outcomes.”