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Referee Darren Drysdale given back-dated suspension over Alan Judge incident

Soccer – Pre-season Friendly – Lincoln City v Leicester City – Sincil Bank
(Image credit: Mike Egerton)

Referee Darren Drysdale has been handed a back-dated suspension following his confrontation with Ipswich midfielder Alan Judge.

Drysdale was charged with improper conduct by the Football Association over the incident which happened during the Sky Bet League One match against Northampton at Portman Road on February 16.

The 50-year-old Lincolnshire official squared up to Judge and then appeared to lean his head into the Republic of Ireland international after the midfielder’s appeal for a penalty had been turned down.

Referee Darren Drysdale embroiled in confrontation with Ipswich�s Alan Judge

Screengrab taken from Sky Sports of referee Darren Drysdale’s confrontation with Ipswich midfielder Alan Judge (Sky Sports)

Drysdale subsequently apologised for his actions, with then Ipswich manager Paul Lambert having asked for the matter to be investigated.

Drysdale has not refereed a match since the incident, after being removed from two EFL matches following the confrontation, but will now be available to officiate again.

On Thursday, the FA confirmed an independent regulatory commission had given Drysdale a back-dated suspension and warning as to his future behaviour for a breach of FA Rule E3.

A statement read: “The match official admitted that his behaviour during the 90th minute of an EFL League One tie between Ipswich Town FC and Northampton Town FC on Tuesday 16 February 2021 amounted to improper conduct.

“The suspension, which ran from 19 February 2021 to 10 March 2021, and warning were imposed by the independent Regulatory Commission during a subsequent hearing.”

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Judge, meanwhile, stressed he was not looking for an apology or for any action to be taken, saying: “Referees have a tough job to do and it was heat of the moment stuff that happens in football.”

The written reasons behind the decision were also published by the FA.

In his statement, Drysdale offered an explanation of his behaviour after watching as Judge “exaggerates his fall in a desperate attempt to gain a penalty kick for his team.”

The referee continued: “I then processed what had happened for a few seconds before blowing my whistle and decided to caution Alan Judge for an act of trying to deceive a match official.

“As I blew my whistle Alan Judge shouted aggressively in a loud voice at me and from a distance of only 5 metres ‘It’s a ******* penalty you cheating bald ****!’

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“Reacting completely out of character, I took exception to what I considered to be an offensive comment.

“I walked towards Alan Judge who then continued his tirade of abuse as he then, what I deemed as, aggressively and provokingly pointed his finger towards my face and shouted: ‘You’re a ****ing cheating ****!’.

“I accept that I should not have moved my head towards Alan Judge as this only inflamed the situation.

“At no time was there any physical contact between myself and Alan Judge.

“My action of moving forward was as a posture of authority and with the player being significantly shorter than me, this led to me looking down at him.

“I then issued a yellow card to Alan Judge for his exaggerated fall.”

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Following the FA’s announcement, Judge released his own strongly-worded rebuttal against claims from the referee about what had been said.

In a statement on the Ipswich website, Republic of Ireland international Judge said: “I didn’t want to make anything of it because it’s a tough job being a referee, but I’m not going to keep quiet when I’ve been accused of calling the referee a cheat and using the C word.

“I’ll admit using the F word, but I said to him ‘you have got to be F****** joking me and I said that a couple of times to him. I never used the C word. I don’t use that word and I didn’t call him a cheat.

“My mum passed away last week – which is far more important than this – and I don’t need this hassle to be honest.

Alan Judge, right

Alan Judge, right, disputes what was said by referee Darren Drysdale (Steven Paston/PA)

“Like I said, the matter was closed, but I’ve got a decent reputation in the game and I won’t stand by and be accused of saying something I didn’t and not responding.”

Judge added: “Our media team have got some audio and it backs me up. Some people have said I should have come out straightaway and explained what I said but I didn’t want to do that.

“I was trying to help Darren. I said the matter was finished and it was, but I have to make it clear now that I totally dispute what has been said by the referee.”