Belfast Telegraph

Linfield call for Irish League referees review after Mark Stafford's red card rescinded

Linfield have called for a review of refereeing across the Irish League after a red card issued to their defender Mark Stafford was rescinded.

The centre-half was dismissed during the Bet McLean League Cup clash with Crusaders at Seaview on Tuesday evening after a clash that had originally seen the Crues' David Cushley issued with a red card.

Referee Raymond Hetherington reversed his decision after consulting his asistants but Stafford's red card has today been rescinded, a move that Linfield have welcomed.

Nonetheless, the Windsor Park club have called for an examination into refereeing standards.

A club statement said: "Linfield Football Club calls on the IFA’s Referee’s Committee to urgently examine these incidents and to ensure that those involved are held to account for their actions. We further suggest a full review of refereeing be carried out by the IFA in order to put clearly needed plans in place to improve the quality for the future. This will require a significant financial investment to deliver the required outcomes."

The statement said tht Linfield were extremely disappoined that "yet another significant error by officials with vital implications has gone against the Club."

It also cited recent "costly mistakes by match officials" during the club's recent win over Ballinamallard, when Josh Robinson was sent off, and defeat at Coleraine, when Jamie McGonigle's shot was adjudged to have cross the line.

"Those mistakes follow on from a series of refereeing errors during the course of last season, including a well-publicised incident at Glenavon, which cost the Club points," continued the statement, referring to a draw that saw Mark Clarke and Roy Carroll both dismissed. "Whilst one of the red cards issued on that occasion was later rescinded, a very damaging and obvious mistake had already been committed by one of the refereeing team.

"The Club recently highlighted the fact that incorrect decisions in professional football can have costly consequences and called on those involved in running the local game to make every effort to improve standards and increase confidence in those officiating at our games.

"The bizarre incident at Seaview on Wednesday evening has further heightened this Club's lack of confidence in our match officials. Linfield acknowledges that refereeing can be a thankless task at times, but Northern Irish football needs match officials that can perform to the increasingly high standard that the public expects of players and teams in NIFL competitions. Whilst we acknowledge that last night’s referee has belatedly accepted his mistake in this instance, and that the dismissal of Mark Stafford has been rescinded, we cannot continue to tolerate a situation where the outcome of crucial games is being so heavily influenced by obvious mistakes from our match officials."

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