Chelsea: Ex-Premier League referee gives verdict on Reece James' red card vs Liverpool

  • Kobe Tong

Chelsea fans went through an emotional rollercoaster during their 1-1 draw at Liverpool.

When you consider that the European champions played most of the game with 10 men, you have to say that taking a point from Anfield is by no means a bad result.

However, it was the circumstances under which Chelsea picked up a red card that had so many supporters seething with Reece James appearing to be harshly dismissed.

Controversial James red card

Referee Anthony Taylor deemed that James had handled the ball on the goal-line after checking the pitch-side monitor, duly dishing out the red card and a penalty that Mohamed Salah duly dispatched.

It was a decision of such controversy – perpetuated by the long-term narrative surrounding Taylor in Chelsea games – that some supporters went to alarming lengths to articulate their discontent.

Not only did a viral Twitter thread of Taylor’s decisions against Chelsea re-emerge, but a petition campaigning for the official to no longer officiate Blues games has surpassed 40,000 signatories.

Saul Niguez to Chelsea! (Football Terrace)

Was Taylor’s decision correct?

However, the key question in amongst all this anger and divisiveness is whether or not Taylor made the right decision to send off James in the first place, right? Right???

And it looks as though fans finally have the definitive answer that they’ve been waiting for because Dermot Gallagher has given a confident verdict on Taylor’s decision to send James packing.

Speaking to Sky Sports on their ‘Ref Watch’ segment, the former Premier League official opined: “I think he could have stood at the screen for 20 minutes and he’d still have made the same decision.

“The evidence is clear to see. The ball does bounce up off his leg, but he swipes at the ball with his arm. That’s what convinces the VAR to send the referee over to the screen.

“The referee goes over and don’t forget the VAR and the referee are in contact as he goes over to the screen.

“You can see the image and you can also see his arm come out from behind the post so you know he’s swiped at the ball.


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“It has to be a red card because of the fact he’s handled the ball on the goal line. It falls into the line of denying a goal. It’s instinctive, he thought the ball was going in the goal and he swiped at it.”

Gallagher’s verdict: Taylor was spot on

Look, at the end of the day, fans who are opining that James should not have been sent off probably need to hold their hands up and admit that the current Premier League laws are against them here.

Whether incidents like the James moment should or should not be punishable by a red card is a completely different debate and ultimately doesn’t come into Taylor’s thought process at Anfield.

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While we might like to think of referees as moral guardians knee-deep in subjectivity, they are essentially bound by the contemporary laws of the game when it comes down to things.

And with Gallagher under no illusions that James should have remained on the pitch, it would seem abundantly clear that – like it or not – Taylor got things absolutely spot on at the weekend.



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