The FA have finally made their statement on Callum McManaman’s vicious attack on Massadio Haïdara’s knee on Sunday, with news that they will be taking no further action.
In their statement on the assault, they claimed that “at least one” of the match officials saw the incident and chose not to take any further action at the time, hence they are powerless to take any further action. It read as follows:
“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.”
Indeed, it is as the FA say in their report. If an incompetent match official said he saw the incident but chose to do nothing about it at the time, then there isn’t much the FA can do about it under the present system. However, according to Newcastle United’s Managing Director, Derek Llambias, the FA didn’t even have the courtesy to inform Newcastle United before going to the media, adding that he only learned of the decision via the media like everyone else.
In his own statement on the FA ruling, Llambias fumed:
“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.
“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.
“It was not a fair challenge. This view is shared by countless former players, referees and well-respected media commentators. Indeed it appears to be only Dave Whelan who takes a contrary view.”
Before I sign off, I must say that I find it somewhat unsettling to find myself in complete agreement with the whole of a Derek Llambias statement!
Postscript: Just to add to the piece above, there was further news from the FA that although McManaman will escape censure for his act of thuggery, Newcastle United’s assistant manager John Carver and Wigan coach Graham Barrow WILL be charged for their reactions to the incident, which led to them both being banished to the naughty step for the second half of last Sunday’s Wigan game.