What a Red Card Appeal Really Means: Part One

In the space of about a week and a half, we’ve had two big red card appeals in the Premier League. In both cases, the clubs exercised their right to challenge a sending off before an ‘Independent Regulatory Commission’, in hopes of getting the automatic suspension of 1-3 games rescinded.

Tottenham appealed Danny Rose’s one-game suspension for taking down Manchester City’s Edin Dzeko in the penalty area. West Ham appealed Andy Carroll’s three-game suspension for whacking Chico Flores in the head (who then rolled around on the ground like his face had caved in).

Tottenham was successful. West Ham was not.

To understand why, you really need to look at the appeal process – called Wrongful Dismissal Claims by the FA – and what it is meant, and more importantly, is not meant to do.

In this two-part series, we’ll start with the Wrongful Dismissal Claims process itself and then talk about the reasons why some claims are successful and most aren’t.

Wrongful Dismissal
This process was designed by FA to “allow a Player and his Club to seek to limit the disciplinary consequences of the dismissal of a Player from the Field of Play.”

Read that sentence carefully, because we’ll come back to it. Long and short: It’s not about ‘overturning’ any card. It’s about being sure the collateral damage of a straight red card – the suspension – is fair.

Here are the basics of lodging a claim:

  • It was a straight sending off – You can’t appeal a sending off that comes from receiving two cautions in the same match.
  • Clubs must lodge the complaint for the player and in a timely manner – They have until 1pm the next working day to do so.
  • Clubs pay for the privilege – Premier League clubs pay £1500 to lodge the claim. Lower league clubs pay progressively less. If they lose their appeal, they don’t get the fee back.
  • Only written and video (DVD) evidence is allowed – Neither the clubs nor the referees can address the Commission in person.
  • A three-person Commission is convened – The FA confirms that everything is in order, and then hands the case over to this commission.
  • The Commission’s ruling is absolute – There are no appeals allowed after a Commission has decided.
  • If the Commission upholds the punishment, they then consider whether or not to increase it – If the Commission decides that the claim had no prospect of success or could be considered abuse of the system, they can add additional matches to the suspension, up to the maximum given (so, three, in standard cases). This is used quite rarely, obviously, due to how controversial it could prove to be.

It’s also important to note that, while it’s not directly mentioned in the documentation, it’s widely reported that the Commission doesn’t take other players’ reactions into account when making their decision.

So, if I take a swing at another player and miss, the fact that the other player dives and draws the card does not affect the Commission’s decision. They’re only concerned with whether I intended to hit him.

That’s the basics of how the Wrongful Dismissal Claims process works. Next, we’ll talk about the two most important features of the process: the Commission’s role in the decision, and the concept of “obvious error.”

Read Part Two

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