referee Mick Russell is awaiting his fate this morning after the Football Association and Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) launched separate investigations into his failure to send off Sheffield Wednesday player Jeremy Helan – despite cautioning him twice.
The controversy marred the Yorkshire derby at Huddersfield Town on Saturday, which ended 0-0, with the Hertfordshire-based official dropping his clanger in the first half.
Russell booked Helan for a second time after his 26th-minute foul on Adam Hammill, 17 minutes after cautioning him for a dive. But he failed to show Helan a red card – much to the incredulity of Town manager Simon Grayson, his players and the home fans in the 17,494 crowd.
The PGMOL released a statement on Saturday night after Russell admitted his culpability in mistakenly recording the name and number of Michail Antonio into his notebook for the first offence and not Helan, despite TV replays clearly showing he had booked the latter.
A PGMOL statement said: “The official has subsequently admitted making a genuine error and the PGMOL need to determine why this arose and what sanction, if any, should be administered to the match officials.”
Grayson strongly criticised Russell and his officials – most notably fourth official Duncan Street – following Saturday’s developments and is supporting calls for match officials to attend post-match press conferences to explain their decisions.
Grayson, who stopped short of calling for the game to be replayed, said: “I spoke to him (Russell) as we were coming down the tunnel and he apologised for making a mistake.
“I do not think he did it deliberately. It was a genuine mistake, but mistakes like that should not happen when we are in Championship football where there is a lot at stake.
“He should come out and say what happened. Referees, fourth officials and assistant linesmen should be made accountable for what happened.
“Referees should be able to come out and be asked questions that we are asked after games.
“Everyone in the ground knew he (Russell) had made a mistake. It is up to the refereeing authorities to decide what sort of punishment has to be made because when we (managers) make mistakes, we get punished.
“Everyone will be aware of it and it will be on the TV. David Allison, who is in charge of the Referees’ Association, will see it. The referee’s assessor was here and he probably told him that he messed up.”
On the role of Street in the first-half controversy, Grayson – who spoke to him and assistant referee Wayne Grunnill immediately after Russell’s faux pas – added: “When the referee has people to book, he has got assistant linesmen and fourth officials who should be there to guide and help him out as well. It is not just the referee.
“If the referee is in his (Street’s) earpiece shouting over to him that it is the No 7 (Antonio) who has been booked, when clearly it wasn’t, then the fourth official should be telling the referee he has made a mistake and it was the 23 (Helan). He has a responsibility to help the referee.”
Grayson’s counterpart, Dave Jones, was more angered by Russell’s failure to award what he saw as a clear penalty for a perceived foul on Helan in the build-up to the first booking.
Match report: Page 2.