Press Pass: Refereeing rethink needed
Newcastle United believe current disciplinary procedures are "not fit for purpose" after the Football Association announced that Wigan forward Callum McManaman will face no retrospective action for his horror challenge on Massadio Haidara.
McManaman, making his first Premier League start for Wigan, went in so high on Haidara that he connected at the top of the player's knee. He was stretchered off and taken to hospital, but there will be no news on how long he will be out of the game until he has a second scan next week.
The challenge, which was not deemed a foul by the officials, led to angry scenes at half-time with Newcastle assistant manager John Carver sent to the stands - along with Wigan coach Graham Barrow - after trying to confront McManaman. Both Carver and Barrow have been charged with misconduct by the FA.
Television replays showed that referee Mark Halsey's view of the incident was obscured by another Newcastle player, but the linesman on that side of the pitch appeared to have clear sight of the tackle. Newcastle manager Alan Pardew was unhappy with Halsey's performance, more so as there was a handball by a Wigan player in the lead up to their late winning goal.
It was expected that McManaman would be charged with violent conduct, but the FA has announced that it is unable to charge the player as retrospective action can only be taken for off-the-ball incidents not seen by any of the officials.
The FA released a statement which read: "The FA can confirm that no action can be taken against Wigan Athletic's Callum McManaman retrospectively following his side's game against Newcastle United on Sunday 17 March 2013.
"Following consultation with the game's stakeholders [the Premier League, the Football League, the Professional Footballers' Association, the League Managers' Association, Professional Game Match Officials Limited and the National Game] in the summer, it was agreed that retrospective action should only be taken in respect of incidents which have not been seen by the match officials.
"Where one of the officials has seen a coming together of players, no retrospective action should be taken, regardless of whether he or she witnessed the full or particular nature of the challenge. This is to avoid the re-refereeing of incidents.
"In the case of McManaman, it has been confirmed that at least one of the match officials saw the coming together, though not the full extent of the challenge. In these circumstances retrospective action cannot be taken. The principal objective behind the not seen policy is to address off the ball incidents where match officials are unlikely to be in a position to witness misconduct."
On Monday, Wigan owner Dave Whelan raised eyebrows when he insisted "he has gone for the ball and he has got the ball".
Newcastle managing director Derek Llambias has issued a strongly worded statement on the club's official website criticising Whelan and the Football Association.
"There has been significant public reaction from media, industry figures and supporters to the tackle made by Wigan Athletic's Callum McManaman on Massadio Haidara during the first-half of our Premier League fixture on Sunday, 17th March, in particular comments made by Wigan's owner Dave Whelan," the statement said. "I have the greatest respect for Dave, who has been in the game for a long time as a professional footballer and now owner. I am also aware that Dave's career was cut short due to injury.
"I am therefore disappointed and surprised by the comments he made yesterday, in particular his assertion that the tackle by Callum McManaman "was a fair challenge". It is our strongly held opinion that the tackle on Massadio was extremely dangerous and is the type of challenge that has the potential to cause serious harm and such was the force, and reckless and dangerous nature of the challenge, even end a player's career.
"We are disappointed to learn that the FA is not going to charge the Wigan player. We were first notified of this decision by a national media outlet who received notification from the FA confirming the decision. This was prior to anyone from the FA having the courtesy to contact the Club to let us know.
"It is clear from this decision that the current disciplinary procedures are not fit for purpose. Newcastle United, along with other clubs, have had players suspended for incidents reviewed after the game. Whilst not trivialising these incidents, they were not, in our opinion, of the seriousness of Callum McManaman's tackle on Haidara.
"Whilst we understand that the current procedures give the FA limited options, it cannot be correct that the most serious offences - those which have the potential to cause another player serious harm - can go unpunished, even if the original incident was seen by match officials.
"We will now be making a strong representation to the FA and the Premier League to see how a more appropriate, fair and even-handed disciplinary process can be introduced at the earliest opportunity to prevent incidents of this nature going unpunished in the future."