Referee Neil Swarbrick has apologised for wrongly sending off West Brom and Northern Ireland’s Gareth McAuley during his side’s 3-0 loss at Manchester City.
McAuley was a victim of mistaken identity when he was shown a red card after Craig Dawson fouled Wilfried Bony in the second minute of the Barclays Premier League clash at the Etihad Stadium.
Swarbrick has now admitted to his error in a statement from Professional Game Match Officials Ltd, the organisation responsible for refereeing appointments.
The statement read: “In the second minute of Manchester City v West Bromwich Albion, referee Neil Swarbrick made a decision to send off Gareth McAuley for a ‘denial of an obvious goalscoring opportunity’ offence.
“The referee has confirmed the offence was caused by a different player, which should be addressed now as a case of mistaken identity. The referee has apologised for his error.”
It was the second mistaken identity controversy in the Premier League in space of three weeks and the third in a year after incidents involving Sunderland and Arsenal
City striker Bony was clean through when he was barged over by Dawson just outside the box. Confusion then followed after Bony attempted to play on and was brought down again, this time by McAuley, inside the area.
But with Swarbrick having already blown his whistle for a free-kick outside the box, it was clear Dawson should have been the recipient of any red card.
The incident sapped West Brom of any ambition and they were comfortably beaten by a far superior City side.
West Brom boss Tony Pulis was angered on two levels, firstly because he did not believe the offence was worthy of a red card and then because Swarbrick got the wrong man.
After the game, Pulis called for greater use of video technology to assist officials.
He said: “Refereeing is not easy, especially at the level we are at now and how quick the game is.
“This product is one of the greatest products this country now sells all over the world, but it is no good moaning about referees. What we have to do is find a way to help referees out.
“I would definitely call now for managers to have two calls each and every game, where there are 30 seonds and they can have a video link-up with people upstairs who can watch it on video.
“It will eradicate the major decisions referees are getting wrong that actually affect games of football. We have to work hard to do that in what is the greatest league in the world. The sooner that comes in the better.”