The FA has charged Darren Drysdale with misconduct after he pushed his head against a player’s during a mid-match confrontation on Tuesday.
Drysdale apologised after squaring up to Ipswich midfielder Alan Judge, resulting in a rare physical exchange between a referee and a player. This, during an EFL League One fixture Ipswich Town and Northampton Town.
The incident occurred towards the end of the match. After Judge went down in the penalty area, Drysdale refused to award Ipswich a penalty.
When Judge approached Drysdale to protest his decision, Drysdale pressed his head against Judge’s in a seemingly intimidating fashion. Drysdale went on to book Judge and show him a yellow card for simulation.
“It is alleged that the match official’s behaviour during the 90th minute of the game amounts to improper conduct,” stated the FA has stated.
The match ended on an even tenser note when Drysdale sent off Ipswich’s Flynnn Downes for violent conduct in the third minute of extra time.
The 49-year-old referee has released a statement of his own, via the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), apologising for his behaviour.
“I fully understand that it is important for us as referees to maintain our composure throughout the game and always engage with players in a professional manner,” he said.
“I’m sorry that I did not do that last night and I can only apologise to Alan and Ipswich Town.”
Drysdale added that it would “not be appropriate” to comment further on the incident as the FA complete their investigation in line with their usual disciplinary procedures.
However, it looks like tension is running behind the scenes nonetheless – despite Judge himself seeming to quickly forgive and forget.
“Referees have a tough job to do and it was heat of the moment stuff that happens in football. I wasn’t looking for the referee to apologise, I wasn’t looking for him to be charged,” Judge said, to the Ipswich website. “There was never going to be a complaint from me and I made that clear.”
Ipswich boss Paul Lambert is less forgiving.
“If Alan Judge had behaved in the same way towards the referee, he’d probably be looking at a six-month ban. I asked the referee after the game, ‘Did you put your head on my player?’ and he told me where to go, basically,” said Lambert.
“I told him, ‘If you did and footage proves so, you’re in big trouble’. I think it’s unacceptable,” he added.
Lambert also felt that referees had a responsibility to “cope with the pressure”.
“When a player goes to a referee, he has to be in control of his emotions and likewise, a referee has to be in control of theirs,” he said.