John Fleck deserved a red card and a three-game ban for his stamp on Giovani Lo Celso’s head in Sheffield United’s 4-0 loss to Tottenham.

That is the view of ex-FIFA and Premier League referee Keith Hackett, speaking exclusively to Football Insider about the incident that VAR operator Peter Bankes did not deem to be a clear and obvious error.

Early in the second half, Fleck and Lo Celso were challenging for a ball but when Lo Celso went to ground Fleck stamped on his head.


On-field referee Andre Marriner awarded Spurs a free-kick but Fleck was not cautioned or punished.

It was reviewed by VAR operator Peter Bankes, who was at the heart of the controversy that saw Fabian Balbuena sent off for West Ham last weekend, but he did not see a clear and obvious error.

Asked for his assessment of the incident, Hackett told Football Insider correspondent Connor Whitley: “Red card every day, any day. Whatever the circumstances.

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“Here’s the issue, VAR. Why didn’t it come in? I don’t think any referee would say that’s not a red card.

“Now what you’ve got is you’re examining the VAR and you’re saying ‘Oh my god, this is Peter Bankes’. What did Peter Bankes do last week? He came in and said ‘Fabian Balbuena, you’re off’.

“He’s not seen it as a clear and obvious error but it is. This is what VAR is for.

“This is the psychological impact of the extended pressure the match official comes under when he makes an error.

“You make an error on the Saturday, you feel the pain. Then you’ve got Saturday night Match of the Day then you’ve got the newspapers if you read them, then social media.

“Then on Wednesday, the appeal leads it to be overturned. It’s an extended period of four or five days of people saying ‘Why did you come in on that?’

“This is why it’s not a punishment to take Peter Bankes off that VAR role, it’s good management. Take them out.

“Now I along with other pundits are criticising Peter Bankes. His reputation as a VAR operator is down at the bottom.”

In other news, Tottenham have made an approach to sign a £30m-valued defender with a  ‘gentleman’s agreement’ revealed.