Wimbledon's managing director, Sam Hammam, is ready to spend pounds 20,000 to compile a special video to prove his much-maligned team are being regularly victimised by referees. He has also called for an independent inquiry, headed by the Premier League and Association, to sit in judgement on the issue.
The move follows the dismissal at Nottingham Forest on Monday of Wimbledon's captain, Vinnie Jones. It was the 10th time he has been shown the red card in his turbulent career, including a dismissal in September against Liverpool when video evidence subsequently persuaded the FA to cancel an automatic suspension.
Monday's events produced another outburst from the Dons' manager, Joe Kinnear, who said the referee, Paul Alcock, and a linesman were "disgraceful, very poor and dreadful." All this on the night Kinnear returned to his place on the bench after a six-month touchline ban imposed last season, along with a pounds 1,500 fine, for abusing two other referees.
The FA will examine the transcript of Kinnear's remarks before deciding on any action but Hammam fully supports his manager's theory that officials are biased against the South London club.
"I want people to see we are being treated differently from everyone else, as I am convinced it is true," Hammam said. "We will supply the evidence if the FA allows us to do so and, if that evidence shows we are thugs and villains, we must think of some other way of dealing with it.
"But my certain feeling is we are being raped week in, week-out by referees and linesmen, and it just cannot go on," Hammam added. "We have had five sendings-off in 12 games this season plus 24 yellow cards and we cannot continue like this - it is impossible for us."
Now Hammam is determined to prove his club is being singled out for uniquely heavy-handed treatment by referees. "It will take about three weeks to compile the video I have in mind," he said. "We will splice together film of incidents involving other clubs' players with similar ones involving our players and invite the inquiry to draw its own conclusions on what action the referees took in each case."
Hammam is particularly unhappy about the two yellow cards Jones received on Monday. He asked: "How, after Vinnie protested about offside, did the referee give a free-kick against us on the edge of our penalty box when the ball was in our goalkeeper's hands? And how did Vinnie get a red card later when Bryan Roy was just too quick and ran into him?
"I honestly believe there is not another player in the Premier League who would have been sent off for what Vinnie did," Hammam said. "Not now, not ever."
Alcock, the referee at Forest, said yesterday: "I'm certain I cannot be questioned over the decision to give Forest a free-kick for the Wimbledon player's dissent. He did not swear but went on and on for a long time and in the end when he pointed to his eyes, clearly indicating the linesman was blind, I could not allow him any more leeway. The second bookable offence was quite straightforward. He deliberately stopped his opponent running past him by putting his body in the way."Reuse content