Newcastle managing director Derek Llambias today responded to the Football Association’s announcement that Wigan forward Callum McManaman cannot be punished for his studs-up challenge on Magpies defender Massadio Haidara.
Here is the statement from Llambias in full:
“There has been significant public reaction from media, industry figures and supporters to the tackle made by Wigan Athletic’s Callum McManaman on Massadio Haidara during the first half of our Premier League fixture on Sunday, 17th March, in particular comments made by Wigan’s owner Dave Whelan.
“I have the greatest respect for Dave, who has been in the game for a long time as a professional footballer and now owner. I am also aware that Dave’s career was cut short due to injury.
“I am therefore disappointed and surprised by the comments he made yesterday, in particular his assertion that the tackle by Callum McManaman ‘was a fair challenge’.
“It is our strongly held opinion that the tackle on Massadio was extremely dangerous and is the type of challenge that has the potential to cause serious harm and such was the force, and reckless and dangerous nature of the challenge, even end a player’s career.
“It was not a fair challenge. This view is shared by countless former players, referees and well-respected media commentators. Indeed it appears to be only Dave Whelan who takes a contrary view.
“We are disappointed to learn that the FA is not going to charge the Wigan player. We were first notified of this decision by a national media outlet who received notification from the FA confirming the decision. This was prior to anyone from the FA having the courtesy to contact the Club to let us know.
“It is clear from this decision that the current disciplinary procedures are not fit for purpose. Newcastle United, along with other clubs, have had players suspended for incidents reviewed after the game. Whilst not trivialising these incidents, they were not, in our opinion, of the seriousness of Callum McManaman’s tackle on Haidara.
“Whilst we understand that the current procedures give the FA limited options, it cannot be correct that the most serious offences - those which have the potential to cause another player serious harm - can go unpunished, even if the original incident was seen by match officials.
“We will now be making a strong representation to the FA and the Premier League to see how a more appropriate, fair and even-handed disciplinary process can be introduced at the earliest opportunity to prevent incidents of this nature going unpunished in the future.
“Our attentions at this time are firmly with Massadio. He only joined us in January, but in that short time he has impressed us immensely both on and off the field. Massadio was scanned yesterday and will continue to be assessed for the remainder of the week.
“He will undergo a further scan next week in order to determine the extent of the damage caused. Contrary to comments in the media, there is currently no timescale for his recovery.
“We would like to thank our fans for their heart-felt messages of support for Massadio. We are passing these messages on to him and we are sure they will help keep his spirits up.”