SUNDERLAND’S appeal against Wes Brown’s sending off is expected to succeed in the wake of errant referee Kevin Friend not being listed to take charge of a Premier League this weekend or midweek next.
The Black Cats served notice yesterday morning that they would appeal against the 34-year-old’s dismissal in Saturday’s game against Stoke City at the Britannia.
The appeal itself will be considered today but it now appears certain that the defender will escape a three-match ban after Friend’s decision was almost universally panned.
The Leicestershire official dished out a straight red to Brown for what replays showed to be a completely legitimate challenge.
Brown won the ball cleanly before colliding with City midfielder Charlie Adam in what was an exciting and full-blooded challenge, only for the referee to astonish everyone by sending the Sunderland player off.
The disbelief of the ex-Man United defender and disgust of Sunderland head coach Gus Poyet were mirrored across the country over the weekend across the media.
And now the Premier League seems to have endorsed the view that Friend’s officiating fell below the required standard, with the referee not being designated to take charge of Premier League fixtures either this weekend, or the set of games which follow midweek.
Brown would miss next weekend’s trip to Aston Villa and the back-to-back home games against Chelsea and Spurs if the FA’s disciplinary commission upholds the red card.
But Sunderland are confident that their appeal will be successful and Friend’s demotion has only strengthened their case.
They also have the backing of a string of former players who took to social media over the weekend to express their outrage..
Ex-Black Cats defender Danny Higginbotham said: “What an awful decision that was. Not even worthy of a free kick never mind a red card.”
Media pundits Robbie Savage and Ian Wright both branded it “the worst decision ever”.
And on Match of the Day, former Liverpool centre-half Alan Hansen said: “I think it’s an absolute joke. He gets 100 per cent of the ball. He’s got it totally wrong.”
Meanwhile, former referee Dermot Gallagher described Friend’s red card as one of the worst decisions in Premier League history.