Football found itself in the gutter again on Saturday as a top, top secret source declared that Premier League referees “think all footballers look the same”.
The shocking revelation came after Neil Swarbrick’s decision to send off West Brom’s Gareth McAuley against Manchester City for a foul on Wilfried Bony – when Craig Dawson was clearly the perpetrator.
It was the second case of mistaken identity in the space of three weeks, and third inside the last two seasons after similar mix-ups involving Wes Brown and John O’Shea and Kieran Gibbs and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
“To be honest, they all look the same to us,” said the top-flight official, who wished to remain nameless.
“I feel for Neil, I really do. How can he be expected to tell them apart?”
When it was put to the source that McAuley was a good distance from the incident, is Dawson’s elder by more than ten years, and wears a big f**king ’23’ – not ’25’ – on his back, he responded:
“Look, you might be able to tell the difference with your slow-motion video replays, but the truth is in real-time all we can see is a footballer.
“You know, a lumbering over-paid cliche, wearing an enormous pair of headphones, eating a ‘cheeky’ Nando’s and banging on about the latest Call of Duty.
“We don’t see the colour of the shirt.”
The official’s comments are bound to spark more controversy amid a season that has brought increased pressure on referees.
When asked for a statement from the FA, we were told we would receive a reply just as soon as they get around to investigating Malky Mackay…