Linfield chairman Roy McGivern has revealed that the club are considering appealing the controversial three match suspension dished out to striker Christy Manzinga by the Irish FA Disciplinary Committee.
The move to ban the Blues forward retrospectively has sent shockwaves across the Irish League with McGivern pointing out that Linfield are "very concerned" by the decision which could have serious implications for the game here in the future.
During Linfield's 2-0 home league win over Glenavon last month, Manzinga was issued a yellow card by referee Jamie Robinson having appeared to hit out at the visitors' Daniel Larmour. Post match, Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton blasted that the former Motherwell star should have been sent off.
A few days later Robinson, having reviewed television footage, told the BBC that he got the decision wrong. The IFA have confirmed to this newspaper that their Disciplinary Committee was then informed by the referee that he wanted to change his decision from a yellow card to a red in relation to the incident and that the IFA Disciplinary Committee acted accordingly, handing a three game suspension to the player.
Normally retrospective action is taken if referees or assistants fail to see an incident but Robinson booked Manzinga for his part in the altercation with Larmour, which is why Linfield were so stunned to receive notification of the ban on Friday. McGivern told the Belfast Telegraph: "The club is very concerned to have received news of this retrospective action against our player. The club is considering all of our options including a possible appeal against the sanction."
Linfield are not the only team in the Premiership concerned by developments with a source from another club stating "this case could open up a can of worms in our league".
The Blues have played two games since they defeated Glenavon, drawing at home to Glentoran and losing at Warrenpoint on Saturday, yet Manzinga’s suspension — first revealed in our sister paper Sunday Life — did not start until yesterday which means he is scheduled to miss this weekend’s much anticipated league game against Cliftonville at Windsor Park, a trip to Larne and a home match with Dungannon Swifts.
There will be many in the game who feel Linfield would have a strong case should they opt to appeal. Others will believe a precedent has been set.
Questions being asked now are what happens the next time a referee makes a controversial decision that may be viewed as incorrect?
Will managers spend their post match media briefings slamming the official in the hope that he changes his mind? How will the IFA Disciplinary Committee react if this becomes a common theme?
What happens now will be watched carefully across the league.