Chelsea furious with FA at refusal to punish Ashley Barnes for Nemanja Matic tackle

The Chelsea hierarchy believe that the FA approach to bad challenges that go unseen by the referee is no longer fit for purpose

Chelsea are understood to be furious at the Football Association’s decision not to punish Burnley’s Ashley Barnes retrospectively for his foul on Nemanja Matic, with the club hierarchy fully behind Jose Mourinho’s no-holds-barred verdict on Sky Sports on Sunday.

The Chelsea manager was outraged at the FA’s decision yesterday that there will be no further action against Barnes, whose studs-up foul on Matic prompted the reaction that saw the Serbian midfielder dismissed on Saturday. Mourinho made a rare appearance on the Goals On Sunday show on Sky Sports when he described the challenge as “criminal” and a potential career-ending tackle.

The Chelsea hierarchy believe that the FA approach to bad challenges that go unseen by the referee is no longer fit for purpose with striker Diego Costa having been given a three-match ban last month for stamping on Liverpool’s Emre Can.

They also cite the case of midfielder Ramires in April who was given a four-match ban – the extra game because of a previous red card – for an off-the-ball cuff to the head  of Sunderland’s Sebastian Larsson.


In the case of obvious fouls in Premier League games that have gone unpunished, the FA reviews the video footage and asks the match referee whether he saw the incident. If the referee says that he did not, as was the case with Costa and Ramires, then the decision goes to the “not-seen” committee, made up of former referees, who decide what the punishment should have been.

The FA said that Martin Atkinson, the official in charge of the game on Saturday, had seen the incident and therefore it could not review the tackle. In a series of tweets on its official feed, the FA posted: “Retrospective action introduced as deterrent for ‘off the ball incidents’ [eg kicks, stamps etc.] committed out of sight of officials.”

Burnley's Ashley Barnes, on floor, has escaped punishment from the FA (Getty)

It added: “Whole game in agreement that, in vast majority of cases, match officials are best-placed to deal with incidents to avoid re-refereeing”. In private, the FA argues that, while the system is not perfect, it is nonetheless consistent in using the match official as the key decision-maker on whether incidents should be reviewed.

Chelsea believe that even Barnes’ reaction to the challenge was telling. Had it been an accident, as manager Sean Dyche later claimed, then the club say his natural response should have been to apologise to Matic. Chelsea have appealed against the three-match ban for Matic for his subsequent shove on Barnes. They are not appealing the fact that it was a red card, rather they have made the case that the standard three-match tariff is excessive in this instance.

Dyche last night responded to the controversy by claiming that Chelsea’s reaction had gone “too far” and “a balanced view” was required.

The Burnley manager took issue with the four incidents where Mourinho claimed referee Atkinson had been wrong, in particular over Barnes’ challenge. “No one reacted [to the tackle] apart from Matic,” he said. “After the event, with hindsight, with slow mo, statements like ‘criminal tackle’ are being used.

“On slow mo, of course it looks ugly but there was contact with the ball [by Barnes]. I would suggest once you are in that pendulum motion to play a pass it is very difficult to then retract your leg immediately.”