There has been a late change of referee for Liverpool’s game against Wigan tomorrow. The original plan was for Steven Bennett to take charge, but with Wigan waiting for the conclusion of disciplinary procedures against them from incidents involving Bennett it was decided a switch was necessary.
Wigan actually had to point the situation out to the Premier League. The action relates to their match against Newcastle, for which they have already pleaded guilty for failing to control their players. However in their view part of the reason for the indiscipline was the poor performance of Bennett and so they are awaiting the league’s decision. Bennett sent off Kevin Kilbane and reported two other Wigan players for contesting his decision. Mark Clattenburg is to step in.
Wigan boss Chris Hutchings said: “It was nothing to do with me but obviously it’s common sense. It would have put everyone under pressure – the referee, ourselves, the players – as it is only four weeks since Steve last refereed us. But had he still been in charge tomorrow, we would have accepted that decision and got on with the job.”
Liverpool haven’t been fans of Bennett’s approach to games in the past, in particular when playing Arsenal. It was no surprise that he officiated poorly in the FA Cup match at Anfield last season, after his performance the season before in the league when he actually sent Xabi Alonso off for an incident he didn’t see, and without consulting his assistants. Xabi had slipped, and got a second yellow as a result, yet Bennett was unsighted as replays clearly showed. No apology was ever made.