Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Fuming Linfield feel ref rage

Referee Raymond Crangle shows Mark McAllister a yellow card in Monday night's game

Linfield are making an official complaint to the Irish Football Association, complaining about refereeing standards in the Irish League.

The Blues believe they have been on the receiving end of poor decisions on several occasions this season — the latest during Monday’s televised clash with Coleraine.

But the Gibson Cup holders are not simply critical of referee Raymond Crangle’s performance — they are upset at a war of words involving the Fifa official and their midfielder, Jamie Mulgrew.

In a letter from Linfield to the Irish FA, it is claimed that Crangle clashed angrily with Mulgrew and that the incident was witnessed by hundreds of thousands of Sky Sports viewers.

The Blues were angry after Crangle didn't award a first half penalty, when Michael Doherty felled Peter Thompson.

However, the exchange with Mulgrew upset officials and Linfield chairman Jim Kerr has confirmed the club’s dismay.

Crangle was due to be the Fourth Official at Linfield’s home clash with Portadown tomorrow, assisting the man in the middle Mark Courtney, but the Irish FA have replaced him with David Malcolm.

The incident will now be the subject of an IFA investigation.

Mr Crangle was unavailable for comment yesterday in spite of repeated attempts by the Belfast Telegraph to contact him.

IFA Referee Development Officer Alan Snoddy said: “We are aware of this issue and we take it seriously. We are looking into this matter.”

During the game, fans vented their anger on Twitter and urged the IFA to take action against Crangle.

IFA head of marketing and communications, Geoff Wilson, said: “There has been no communication from Linfield regarding Raymond Crangle.

“Raymond has been removed from Fourth Official duties for the Linfield v Portadown game, and such changes often happen throughout the season.”

But Linfield chairman Jim Kerr said: “I have taken several calls from angry supporters. I first became aware of it when Jamie (Mulgrew) told me after the game.

“Our letter to the Irish FA highlights our concerns with the refereeing and Monday’s incidents are naturally included.”

After Monday’s clash, Blues boss David Jeffrey was critical of Crangle, saying: “Yet again will we be talking about the great football and the entertainment, or will be talking about another referee who has made a mistake involving Linfield Football Club?

“If that wasn’t a penalty I don’t know what is. It is absolutely ridiculous. Peter was taken out of the game.

“How on earth the linesman and the referee can’t see it I will never, never know.

“It’s decisions like that which cost you games of football and there is no excuse for that.”

Linfield have also issued a lifetime ban to a supporter in the wake of the brawl which marred the club's league game against Dungannon Swifts.

Kerr added: “This person previously had a one-year ban for his behaviour at an Irish Cup Final and on this occasion, as well as entering the field of play, he spat at people, was abusive to stewards, to the Linfield Safety Officer and threw a traffic cone at a steward.”

David Armstrong and BJ Burns will begin a two-match suspension on Monday, following their red cards at Dungannon.

However, the duo are available for the Ports battle after serving their automatic one-match ban on Monday.

The champions need to get back into the groove quickly after falling 11 points behind leaders Cliftonville.

The Blues will settle for a repeat of their Shamrock Park performance in September when they ran out 4-2 winners.

Man of the match William Murphy rocked the hosts with a double blast.

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