Graham Cummins: Appealing League of Ireland red cards is usually a waste of time

'Amount of time, effort and money that a club spends on the process, rarely brings the desired outcome'
Graham Cummins: Appealing League of Ireland red cards is usually a waste of time

Cork City's Ally Gilchrist is sent off by referee Adriano Reale against Bohemians earlier this month. Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

IS it ever worth appealing a red card? 

The amount of time, effort and money that a club spends on the process, rarely brings the desired outcome, even if it's clear that the player should have never been sent-off. In circumstances where players are wrongfully dismissed, but the decision is upheld, although it might not seem it, it wasn’t a waste of resources by the club to make an appeal.

It makes a difference to the player that was sent off, that his club have fought for him. Players will approach their manager and request that the club and lodge an appeal on his behalf. If the club doesn't, then it makes the player question the trust that the manager and the club have in him and that they think he is guilty even when he feels he isn’t. 

That can have a long-term effect in terms of if the player ever had a decision to make between staying with the club or going elsewhere. 

The player is going to think back to that moment when the club wouldn’t fight for him or didn’t believe him, and that would tend to sway the decision to leave. 

Also if the club doesn't appeal an incorrect decision, the player will question whether the manager rates him or not because he will see that the manager can use it as a reason for dropping him from the team. It would be a lot easier to use the suspension as an excuse rather than have an awkward conversation with the player, that the manager thinks the player just isn’t good enough to be in the side.

When a club does appeal on a player’s behalf, that player will appreciate the support that he receives from the club, and he will be keen to return that support by putting in high-quality performances when he does return to the team.


So what are the steps for an appeal process from a player? In my career, I’ve been sent off three times. Of the three, I’ve appealed and had two decisions overturned. One of the sending-offs, I didn’t appeal because I had kicked out at an opposition player and deserved to be banned. 

Of the other two, one was with Cobh Ramblers and the other with Cork City. With Cobh, I was sent off for what the referee deemed to be a kick on a Dundalk goalkeeper. The keeper was lying on the ball without having any control of it with his hands, and I made an attempt to kick the ball, which I did, and the referee incorrectly deemed I had kicked the player. I went to the club to appeal the decision, which they did. 

I was required to write my explanation of the incident. I even asked the appeal panel to ask the goalkeeper I apparently kicked to give his explanation of events, which he did, and credit to him he backed my story and the decision was overturned.

Regarding the sending-off for Cork City. It was in a match against St Patrick’s Athletic in which I did elbow Kevin Toner but unintentionally. The appeal process for this sending-off involved travelling to the FAI headquarters in Dublin and making my case in front of a panel. They read out the referee’s match report in which he would have given his version of the incident. The wording in this report could have influenced the outcome of the appeal. I recall that for my appeal the referee worded that I used my elbow as a weapon.

I sat down with the panel and reviewed the footage of the incident and argued my case. Luckily the club had other angles of the incident which helped. Although it appeared I was innocent, I felt they really wanted to show their authority. The verdict of the appeal takes hours.

Recently we have seen Cork City lose their appeal to Cian Coleman’s sending-off against Dundalk. Perhaps the process is much quicker now and players aren’t able to give their side of the argument because the appeal was dismissed only three days after the game. There must have been a lot of people on that appeal panel that just wanted to show their power because I cannot understand how the appeal lost. 

Either way it wasn’t a waste of time because the player will be grateful that the club supported him and he will want to repay them when he returns to action.

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