Referees under fire again after red-card record

The former top referee Jeff Winter hopes the weekend's record number of red cards in the Premier League will not be repeated. The red mist descended on the top flight this weekend, with eight players sent off on Saturday and Birmingham's Barry Ferguson dismissed on Sunday.

The total of nine was the highest for a decade but Winter hopes lessons will be learned by both referees and players. "Referees don't want to be sending players off and certainly games can be spoilt if we get red card after red card," said Winter. "But hopefully this weekend was a one-off. Referees may learn from it, hopefully players will learn from it and it won't be repeated."

Consistency among referees remains a concern, with two incidents involving Jamie Carragher a prime example of different interpretations of the same offence. Carragher pulled down Manchester United's Michael Owen nine days ago but only received a yellow card from referee Andre Marriner, who decided Owen was running away from goal.

But referee Lee Mason did show Carragher a red card against Fulham on Saturday when he was adjudged to have pulled back Bobby Zamora in similar fashion. "The problem is some managers are incorrectly interpreting the law that the referees are supposed to adhere to," added Winter on Sky Sports News.

"Denial of a goalscoring opportunity has got to be an obvious goalscoring opportunity. The player has got to be running towards his opponents' goal. The one with Michael Owen is one where I can see why the referee didn't send him off. It is very hard to justify to fans who say there is no consistency but when he [Carragher] got sent off this week and was saying he got the ball, to me he also had a little pull on the opponent's shirt. That player was clean through on goal, in possession, and running towards the goal.

"That is the problem with football, if everything was black and white it would be very easy to be a referee. There are a lot of grey areas and those two instances are ones that many fans and players will say were much the same. The laws of the game suggest they are not. We have got to have consistency. We have got to have a law that everyone understands, but most of all we have got to have understanding from the authorities that it is difficult for a referee out there. In a split second he gives what he sees. There is enough pressure on him without him thinking that if he doesn't send him off, he will be marked down."

Two other games also featured a pair of dismissals. Everton's Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and Carlos Cuellar of Aston Villa received their marching orders within minutes of each other, with Sunderland's Kenwyne Jones and West Ham's Radoslav Kovac dismissed at the Stadium of Light. Geovanni's red card added to Hull's woes at Burnley but Jlloyd Samuel can have no complaints about his dismissal for tripping Chelsea's Didier Drogba.