Kyle Naughton, Tottenham and a potential appeal 4

We didn’t have to wait long for a hugely controversial moment in 2014/15, with Tottenham’s Kyle Naughton being sent-off inside twenty-nine minutes at Upton Park.  Naughton was red-carded for blocking Kevin Nolan’s shot inside the six-yard box, and Chris Foy - via his assistant - interpreted that it as their denial of a clear goal-scoring opportunity.

Initially, it seemed harsh, because we usually associate red-cards for handball with diving saves on the line by outfield players or instances in which intent is very clear, but the reasoning behind the decision was pretty sound: Nolan’s shot was goal-bound and Naughton blocked it.  One could argue that there was little intent on the Tottenham defender’s behalf, but the unnatural position of his arms - away from his body, unnecessarily raised - meant that he was really inviting a dismissal in that situation.

It’s all incidental now, because Spurs won the game, but the rules around ‘clear goal-scoring opportunities’ are fairly rigid and so any argument against the decision is made on unsteady ground.

That being said, it’s quite likely that Tottenham will appeal the decision and it is, perversely, likely that they’ll succeed in having Naughton’s suspension overturned.

Back in March, Arsenal lost 6-0 Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and everyone will remember the incident that occurred in the first-half of that game.  Kieran Gibbs was, of course, wrongly sent-off for a deliberate handball committed by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but even after the red card had been retrospectively reallocated, the latter still escaped a ban.

Why?  Because Arsenal argued that, despite Oxlade-Chamberlain’s flagrant, fully-intentional attempt to palm the ball away, the original shot wasn’t actually going in and he technically wasn’t denying a goal-scoring opportunity.  Whether you agree with that logic or not, the decision set a precedent for how the disciplinary committee will have to interpret these events in the future, and so Naughton’s red card now seems more debatable as a result.

None of the angles of the incident conclusively show the trajectory of Kevin Nolan’s shot, but expect Spurs to at least make a case along those grounds.

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