In the latest edition of Ref Review we look at the red card dished out to Ryan Jack by referee Willie Collum after the Rangers midfielder fouled Aberdeen striker Stevie May.
Some observers have said Jack was unlucky. I agree to an extent, but for different reasons from those who believe he should have been let away with a booking or less. I don’t think Jack does intend to stamp down on May. He’s concentrating on trying to make a pass, probably doesn’t anticipate May going to block it in the manner he does, and goes into his opponent on the follow through.
However, it’s still a red card. And in the rules of the game, it’s barely even debatable. Players have to take into consideration the safety of their opponent when making a challenge, regardless of whether there is intent or whether they’ve played the ball first.
We covered this earlier in the season when looking at Ryan Bowman’s challenge on Fabio Cardoso in the Betfred Cup semi-final. Like Jack, the Motherwell attacker only had eyes for the ball and played it before his opponent could. However, by leading with his forearm in such a manner he was endangering the safety of an opponent. He should have been shown a red card. The same goes for Jack.
He leads with a straight leg (Picture One, above) and doesn’t make any attempt to change that before he’s already made contact. In fact, May’s upper body is already passing Jack by the time his foot has been released, having been trapped underneath that of Jack (Picture Two, below).
It’s been argued that he couldn’t get out of the way, which blatantly isn’t the case. He stands his ground in a 50/50. Many players in such an instant would look to flick it around the incoming tackle, protecting themselves and their opponent. That may not fit with the masculine demands placed on players in this country, as we insist they run through brick walls for the cause, but it would have meant Rangers kept 11 men on the park.
May could have been seriously injured and was lucky that he wasn’t. Under the letter of the law it is an undoubted red card.
• Craig Anderson is a former fully qualified referee. He is also the man behind SPL Stats on Twitter.