Jack Rodwell will not have to serve a three-match suspension after the Football Association rescinded his red card from the Merseyside derby. The Everton midfielder was sent off by referee Martin Atkinson for serious foul play for a tackle on Luis Suarez on Saturday, but his appeal for wrongful dismissal was upheld yesterday.
The Everton chief executive, Robert Elstone, said he was pleased with the decision, but frustrated at the outcome of the match. "Whilst we welcome the correct decision the FA panel has reached," he said, "it's of course an outcome which will provide little consolation whatsoever to the 37,000 Evertonians packed into Goodison on Saturday to watch the 2-0 defeat."
Chairman Bill Kenwright was similarly disappointed that Everton had not been able to compete on an equal footing with Liverpool: "One of the biggest tragedies was for Jack himself. He has had a terrific season and was by far and away the most influential midfielder on the pitch up to that point."
Following the success of Rodwell's claim for wrongful dismissal, Everton will now have him available for both of their forthcoming Premier League games in west London: they travel to Chelsea on 15 October and Fulham eight days later. He will also be available to face Chelsea in the Carling Cup fourth-round game at Goodison Park on 26 October.
After 22 minutes of Saturday's match, Rodwell tackled Suarez just inside the Liverpool half. He won the ball cleanly with his leading left leg, and while his follow-through did catch the LIverpool striker, the tackle did not meet the required standard for serious foul play.
The laws of the game define "serious foul play" as a tackle of "excessive force or brutality", while stating that any tackle which "endangers the safety of an opponent" must be counted as such. Rodwell's tackle was of reasonable force, and, with the studs of neither foot showing, it did not endanger Suarez's safety.
The decision made Rodwell the 12th player to be dismissed in the last 16 Merseyside derbies. Moreover, the 20-year-old was the 15th player Atkinson had sent off since the start of last season, and David Moyes, the Everton manager, made clear his anger after the match, which Liverpool won with two second-half goals. "It ruined the game," said Moyes. "I would have been disappointed if it had been a free-kick and if he had given a yellow card you would have said: 'What is that for?'"