Motherwell opt not to appeal McHugh red card

Carl McHugh's challenge on Cowie (Pic by Alan Watson)
Carl McHugh's challenge on Cowie (Pic by Alan Watson)

Motherwell FC won’t be appealing the straight red card awarded to midfielder against Hearts on Saturday.

Steelmen gaffer Mark McGhee had originally branded referee Andrew Dallas’s decision to send off the Irishman for a two-footed lunge at Hearts’ Don Cowie as “a joke” and said the club would definitely lodge a protest with the SFA.

But that is no longer the case, with a club statement issued today (Wednesday) which read: “The club decided not to appeal the red card shown to Carl McHugh on the 53rd minute of last Saturday’s match at Fir Park.

“The recent experience with Scott McDonald’s appeal for a similar sort of offence, with the onus being on the club to prove an obvious refereeing error, convinced management that, although we greatly respect the process and the individuals involved, any further appeal would not only be futile, but also a waste of the club’s time and money.

“The club has subsequently written to the Scottish FA’s Head of Referee Operations to seek clarity on the guidelines surrounding serious foul play and in particular, “excessive force”.

“Given a fairly broad set of criteria has been issued by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) when judging a challenge during the intensity of a match, it’s now so open to individual interpretation by each match official it could and has lead to significant inconsistencies across games.

“A number of challenges in various SPFL Premiership matches (and high profile matches in other major leagues) over the last few weeks would more than meet the criteria both Scott McDonald and Carl McHugh were judged by, and subsequently ordered off for, but only cautions were issued.

“This causes a great deal of confusion and frustration for our playing staff, coaching staff and supporters, and it is making it increasingly difficult to say with any certainty what is and isn’t a red card offence when talking about ‘excessive force’.

“Everyone involved in football understands that, at times, clubs will be on the end of honest mistakes or incorrect calls, it is part and parcel of the game. In addition, it is also acknowledged and accepted that match officials do not set the laws of the game, only enforce them.

“However, that means they need to be applied consistently across the board and any law or criteria that allows for such a broad scope of individual interpretation is, in Motherwell FC’s view, a flawed one.

“In addition, the club has also asked for, and has been granted, time with the Scottish FA’s Head of Referee Operations to go through with the playing squads some of the recent examples which have merited a red card and those that, for what look like identical offences, have only been issued with a caution to explain what, if any, differences there are and detail fully what IFAB advise when considering excessive force.

“Motherwell FC very much appreciates this time and look forward to that meeting in the coming weeks.”