The fall-out from Sheffield United’s dramatic 2-1 defeat to Tottenham on Saturday rumbles on, following hard-hitting comments from Blades boss Paul Heckingbottom surrounding the performance of the referee, Peter Bankes.
Heckingbottom was dismayed by the official’s display, the United manager complaining about Bankes’ obsession with time wasting and the threat of yellow cards.
“My worry is all the focus is on yellow cards for time-wasting and when I talked to the referees, they haven’t got a clue what I’m talking about,” said Heckingbottom afterwards. “They’re officiating the game, they simply do not know the game.
“We need to sort that and sort that quick. It’s ruining the spectacle and then to sum it all up we get Oli McBurnie sent off for telling the referee someone is pulling his shirt.
“We’ve just seen someone lead with an elbow into our goalkeeper who needs stitches and that’s the same offence. What’s going on? Seriously what’s going on with our game?”
The manner of McBurnie’s red card was particularly galling. McBurnie was involved in a tussle with Brennan Johnson as the Blades took a free kick and when a foul was given against the Blades striker he complained to the referee that his shirt was being pulled. That led to a second yellow card for apparent dissent.
McBurnie tweeted about the inconsistency around that new clampdown, posting: “Not even allowed to speak to referees these days but certain teams/players allowed to run up to them multiple times in a game with no problems.”
His view was backed up by a former referee, who sympathised with McBurnie, describing the decision as ‘very poor’.
Sheffield-born former Premier League and Fifa official Keith Hackett tweeted in response to McBurnie: “You were blocked off and was fouled. Referee must have only seen your reaction to assisting your opponent to the ground. Very poor officiating. You should not have received a second yellow.”
McBurnie will now miss Sheffield United’s weekend clash with Newcastle United as he serves a one-match ban. United are unable to appeal the decision as that process is only allowed for straight red cards.