My Sporting Week: Where’s the need for a 93rd minute red card?

Stenhousemuir manager Scott Booth  25-10-2014 Picture Alan Rennie.
Stenhousemuir manager Scott Booth 25-10-2014 Picture Alan Rennie.
Share this article

There have been plenty of times when referees say ‘it’s more hassle than what it’s worth’ and they’d be right.

The criticism doled out to the men in black is often over the top. It’s about the one aspect of a football match rival fans will unite on – to boo the whistler down the tunnel and half and full-time.

Yes, it’s an unenviable job. Without them there’d be no game. Et cetera Et cetera.

But sometimes they’re the very people who create the unneccessary hassle.

Take Sunday’s Man Utd versus Chelsea match. Branislav Ivanovic’s second yellow card in the 93rd minute that gave the Reds a draw. Only it didn’t. The card was superfluous. The free-kick was key. Phil Dowd got that bit right. The ‘punishment’ was the free-kick and goal. The benefit Manchester United got from the red was negligible. Albeit Chelsea will be ever so slightly weaker for their next game – but not much.

More hassle than what the Serbian’s petulant little tug was worth. A red card for red card’s sake.

Same with Saturday and Stenhousemuir and Scott Booth.

The manager was sent to the stand around the same time of the match as Ivanovic got to the showers ahead of his team-mates - what 90 seconds?

The manager’s aspect has even less impact on the match than the player being red carded at that stage. Infact it took longer for the manager to traipse across the park than it would have had Gavin Duncan just left it as an agreement to disagree – that most certainly can be done.

Booth is within his rights to criticise and question the referee. As would be his captain Ross McMillan. A manager and a captain should be the only two members of a team eligible to question or ask clarification from a match official, and should be afforded an answer.

We have to take him at his word and Mr Booth claims that’s all he was doing prior to his dismissal.

When there is a difference of opinion, of course it is the referee who has final say. That’s the way it should be too. He can explain his point of view and why he took that decision – whistleblower website or no whistleblower website. It’s a matter of respect and courtesy.

But answer the question and remember the circumstance – it’s the 90th minute and points are precious. Red cards should not be symbolic gestures and should be used as punishment for serious infringements – not for emotions running into overdrive.