It’s not a red card. For an off-the-ball kick to qualify as violent conduct it either has to use “excessive force or brutality” and it’s clear from the replays that Kipre used neither in the coming together with the Celtic captain. His heel hits Brown’s calf, and there may be some slight contact with the back of the thigh, but nothing to justify Craig Thomson’s stamping motion which he signalled just after producing the card.
So why did he send off the Motherwell player? From the angle in the main stand the kick-out combined with Brown’s theatrics makes it looks worse than it is. Kipre motions towards his opponent, who then moves as if he’s been forcibly kicked.
We know Thomson didn’t have this angle, but at the same time we don’t actually know what his angle looked like. There was no replay from his vantage point. Perhaps he had a deceiving look and saw something which wasn’t actually there. Otherwise I’m at a complete loss to explain his decision. As I’ve mentioned, he mimed a stamping motion when confronted by the angry Motherwell players, but it’s abundantly clear that nothing remotely resembling a stamp happened.
There was some suggestion on social media that Thomson sent off Kipre for the initial challenge on Brown. This was not the case.
Firstly, Thomson doesn’t react at all to the initial challenge. There’s no signal to play advantage in the three seconds between tackle and the whistle going. He only starts to look closely at the pair when Brown shoves Kipre before blowing after the retaliation (Image One). Besides, Celtic still had the ball. If he was playing advantage then it would have continued.
Secondly, referees are instructed not to play advantage following a red card worthy challenge.
Thirdly, it’s probably not even a foul, let alone worthy of a red. The Motherwell defender goes over the ball with his right leg and had he planted it into the foot or shin of his opponent then he would have been in trouble. But he doesn’t catch Brown at all. His foot goes over and lands on the turf.
• Craig Anderson is a former fully qualified referee. He is also the man behind SPL Stats on Twitter.