Mark Halsey: Mourinho was right about Matic - but don’t expect a ban for Barnes

REFEREE'S COLUMN: The former Premier League official believes Chelsea will appeal the midfielder's three-game suspension but the Burnley forward will escape punishment
By Mark Halsey of


Jose Mourinho’s analysis of Ashley Barnes’ challenge on Nemanja Matic was spot on - it was career threatening - and the Chelsea midfielder, who controlled himself well given the viciousness of the tackle, should not have been sent off for his retaliation.

As Howard Webb reiterated during his appearance on Sky Sports earlier this season, a push, or a movement of the head towards another player, doesn’t necessarily warrant a red card and Matic, who pushed Barnes in the back, should have only been cautioned for adopting an aggressive attitude.

Ron Vlaar is serving a one-game ban and will miss Aston Villa's clash with Newcastle United

Nemanja Matic is serving a three-game ban and will miss Chelsea's upcoming matches against Tottenham, West Ham and Southampton

Jack Colback is serving a two-game ban and will miss matches against Aston Villa and Manchester United

Joey Barton is serving a three-game ban and will miss matches against Arsenal, Tottenham and Crystal Palace

Morgan Amalfitano is serving a three-game ban and will miss matches against Crystal Palace and Chelsea
Sunday’s draw between Tottenham and West Ham only added to the confusion as Jan Vertonghen escaped even a booking for putting his hands into Mark Noble’s face. There wasn’t a great deal of difference between that and the incident with Matic, yet the outcomes were the complete opposite.

Expect Chelsea to appeal Matic’s dismissal but it’s highly unlikely that Mourinho’s wish for Barnes to receive a ban will be granted. With Martin Atkinson having a clear view of the challenge, the Football Association will not re-referee the incident, meaning that the Burnley forward will escape punishment.


It was a bad, bad day at the office for Martin Atkinson - but the blame should not be placed solely on the referee for his poor performance at Stamford Bridge.

Atkinson, who has made improvements this season and had a solid outing in the north London derby earlier this month, should have been nowhere near a Premier League fixture on Saturday and the PGMOL should shoulder responsibility for failing to astutely manage its officials.

This is not excusing Atkinson’s performance which was easily one of the worst we’ve seen in the Premier League this season, but to give a game so soon after a Champions League fixture to a referee who is mentally and physically drained is inviting trouble.

Midweek European matches are often touted as the reason for lethargic displays in the Premier League but we need to remember that players have luxury travel arranged for them. Referees are not extended the same privilege.

On Wednesday, Atkinson was in Germany for Schalke’s Champions League tie with Real Madrid and his busy schedule left him vulnerable ahead of Chelsea’s match against Burnley three days later.

After taking charge of West Brom’s win over West Ham in the FA Cup last Saturday, Atkinson had two days of recuperation before travelling to Germany on Tuesday ahead of the match on Wednesday evening. He wouldn’t have left the stadium until close to 11pm and after a meal he would not have gone to sleep until the early hours. Thursday would have been spent heading back to Leeds, while Friday would be taken up by travelling down to London ahead of Saturday’s game.

Atkinson, who had less rest than the Chelsea players he was trying to keep in check, should have either been given the whole weekend to recover, or put in charge of a match on Sunday.

The decision to give Atkinson the game on the Saturday looks even more bemusing when Mike Dean, one of the Premier League’s top referees, was put in charge of Brentford’s clash with Bournemouth in the Championship on the same day.

It’ll be interesting to see how the PGMOL react to Atkinson’s performance and whether he will be stood down for multiple Premier League fixtures, although missing out on a few weeks could be a blessing in disguise.

As players feel the benefits from their mid-season warm-weather breaks, referees also need a chance to get their energy back, otherwise we will continue to see tired and laboured performances from our officials.
Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey was speaking to Chris Davie on behalf of You Are The Ref. For detailed referee analysis from the experts visit