Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold has called for an overhaul of the Hyundai A-League’s Match Review Panel in the wake of Nikola Petkovic’s suspension for Friday night’s clash with Brisbane Roar FC.
The Serbian defender was controversially sent off in the club’s 3-1 Westfield FFA Cup loss to Adelaide United on Tuesday night, leaving the Sky Blues irate with referee Ben Williams.
While Petkovic’s lunging tackle did catch Reds winger Fabio Ferreira, most observers felt the decision merited a yellow card at worst.
Williams has since been stood down from this weekend’s Hyundai A-League action but the Sky Blues’ appeal to have Petkovic’s red card rescinded was dismissed by the MRP.
It’s that decision that has infuriated Arnold, who believes it’s the MRP members Simon Micalleff, Alan Davidson and Con Diomis who should be called into question.
"The fact that he (Williams) has been stood down tells the story," Arnold said on Thursday.
"And the fact that we've been punished twice for it…maybe it's time we looked at who is actually on the match review panel board.
"Maybe they've been there too long.
"They’re out of touch with the game. It’s been the same people for how long, four years? Maybe they need to be looked at.”
Arnold confirmed he had received an apology from referee’s boss Ben Wilson over the incident over a “not very nice” phone conversation.
“Ben Wilson was apologetic for the referee’s performance,” the Sky Blues boss said.
Despite the controversy, Arnold stressed the importance of moving on quickly, with a tough trip north to face a desperate Roar side looking for their first points of the season.
“They are still a very, very good football team and I still think they are the bench mark,” Arnold said of the Roar.
“I analysed the Perth game last week and they are nearly where they were last year.
"They’ve still got Thomas Broich whose probably one of the best imports that’s ever come to this country. They’ve still got Jade North and Matt Smith (in defence) and some of the best youngsters coming through.
“It will be a tough challenge, they’ll be hurting and they’ll want to give their fans something to cheer about.”
In a blow for Sydney, Arnold confirmed defender Matt Jurman would miss six weeks with a knee injury and said the club may look to bring in an injury replacement.
Shane Smeltz, who has yet to play a competitive match for the Sky Blues, may get a spot on the bench against the Roar while Rhyan Grant is a week away from a return.