Referee Mick Russell facing investigation after Huddersfield Town v Sheffield Wednesday card blunder

BLUNDERING referee Mick Russell is awaiting the outcome of an investigation into his failure to send off Sheffield Wednesday’s Jeremy Helan against Town on Saturday.

Mick Russell

BLUNDERING referee Mick Russell is awaiting the outcome of an investigation into his failure to send off Sheffield Wednesday’s Jeremy Helan against Town on Saturday.

Professional Game Match Officials Limited, who provide officials for the Premier and Football League, are conducting the probe.

Russell, who showed Helan two yellow cards but failed to send him off, was due to take Saturday’s League I clash between Scunthorpe and Shrewsbury.

But the experienced Hertfordshire whistler, who has been refereeing Football League games since 2004, could now be stood down.

Russell showed on-loan Manchester City winger Helan a second yellow card in the 25th minute after his foul on Adam Hammill.

He had previously booked him for diving, but mistakenly noted the name of Owls teammate Michail Antonio.

The referee ignored protests by Town boss Simon Grayson and his players and restarted the match, meaning the chance to red card Helan had gone.

A PGMOL statement confirmed: “We are to conduct an investigation into an incident that took place in the Huddersfield Town v Sheffield Wednesday game. In the eighth minute of the match Mick Russell, the referee, stopped play when Jeremy Helan was adjudged to have simulated an offence inside the Huddersfield penalty area.

“However, it appears that instead of Helan (No24) receiving a caution, one was given instead for Michail Antonio (No7).

“At this point the referee recorded the name and number of Antonio in his notebook and advised the fourth official over the communication system that Antonio had been cautioned.

“In the 25th minute Helan was cautioned following a foul challenge. As the referee had not previously recorded his name he did not issue a red card.

“The official has subsequently admitted making a genuine error and PGMOL need to determine why this arose and what sanction, if any, should be administered to the match officials.”

Russell, a 45-year-old gas service engineer from St Albans, was taking his 28th match of the season on Saturday.

His mistake stirred memories of Graham Poll’s 2006 World Cup clanger involving Croatia’s Josip Simunic.

Poll said: “I have both empathy and sympathy for him (Russell) having suffered similarly, albeit on a bigger stage.

“People who do not officiate, and even some that do, cannot understand how such a basic error of not recording the correct number of a player that you caution can occur.

“Mike Russell knows exactly how badly I had been affected in the summer of 2006 when doing exactly that at the World Cup in Germany.

“He was the fourth official on my very first game after my faux pas. He provided me with great support throughout that day and we discussed at length how such an error could be made.

“Despite that, he now finds himself having done the same. He has said since he clearly recorded the wrong number at the first caution and so is taking full responsibility.

“However, in the fullness of time he will reflect and wonder what happened to his two assistants and fourth official, who record all instances of misconduct.

“He will now be written to by Professional Game Match Officials Limited and the Football Association for his explanation and as he has admitted his culpability, a charge will follow.

“Since he is clearly guilty of failing to apply the law – sending off a player after giving him a second yellow card – he will probably be suspended for at least three matches.”

PGMOL was formed in 2001 and is headed by Mike Riley. His fellow former referee David Allison has responsibility for the Football League.

The FA must also decide whether Wednesday’s Helan should serve the ban which would have resulted from a red card.

 
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