Middlesbrough have launched a furious broadside at disciplinary chiefs after Jeremie Aliadiere's appeal against his sending-off at Liverpool was dismissed as 'frivolous'.
The 24-year-old Frenchman was red carded by referee Lee Mason for striking out at Javier Mascherano after the Argentinian appeared to grab his face during Saturday's 3-2 Premier League defeat at Anfield.
Aliadiere immediately incurred a three-match ban for violent conduct, against which his club decided to appeal to the Football Association yesterday.
However, a regulatory commission this afternoon rejected his claim for wrongful dismissal and decided instead to hand him an extra game on the sidelines.
Boro chief executive Keith Lamb was fuming at the decision, branding it 'a travesty of justice'.
Lamb said: 'We are furious and totally astounded that the commission, without consultation, should consider our appeal to be frivolous.
'Who are they to know our minds when we made this appeal?
'We are appalled at the decision and the entire process. How can nameless, faceless people on a commission decide that our genuine claim for equality and justice be dealt with in such a flippant manner?
'It is a disgraceful comment to suggest our claim was frivolous. We agonised over it before deciding to submit a claim for wrongful dismissal.
'The Oxford Dictionary definition of frivolous is `not serious, shallow, silly or trifling', while in fact we spent more than two days considering whether or not to appeal the incident.
'It seems strange that only recently Chelsea's appeal against Michael Essien's three-match ban was rejected but not considered `frivolous'.
'It appears that there is one rule for the big boys and another for the rest of us.'
Lamb insisted Boro had decided to appeal only after studying television replays and canvassing opinion on the decision.
He said: 'We considered Jeremie's dismissal to be extremely harsh.
'We find the inconsistency displayed in this whole incident unacceptable and quite unbelievable.
'According to the referee's report, he had a `good, clear view' of the whole incident, including Javier Mascherano grabbing Jeremie Aliadiere's face and Jeremie's subsequent reaction.
'However, he decided that while Mascherano's actions were acceptable and needed no further action, our player's light flick was `violent conduct' and merited a straight red card.
'How can it be fair that one player receive a straight red card while the other receives no punishment at all?
'To further quote the Oxford Dictionary, the adjective `violent' is defined as `involving great physical force', which anyone who has seen the incident hardly describes Jeremie's actions.'
Aliadiere will miss the FA Cup fifth round replay against Sheffield United, Saturday's league clash with Reading and the trip to Aston Villa a week later.
Should Boro make the FA Cup quarter-finals, Aliadiere would sit out the last-eight showdown with Cardiff, but if they go out tomorrow night, he would be suspended for the return to former club Arsenal on March 15.
Lamb said: 'If anything in this whole farcical affair was frivolous, it was the original incident.
'How on earth can Jeremie Aliadiere think he has been treated fairly in this whole charade when the outcome is clearly a travesty of justice?'
FA rules dictate that the regulatory commission can only rescind a red card when the referee has made a 'clear and obvious error', and appeals where that is not found to be the case are regarded as frivolous.
It is understood Mr Mason saw the whole incident, but took no formal action against Mascherano.