Leeds United have asked the Football Association to explain its decision to spare Southampton’s Charlie Austin from punishment for criticising match officials, weeks after banning Pontus Jansson for similar remarks.
Leeds managing director Angus Kinnear said he had written to the governing body after failing “to identity a difference in the nature or vehemence” of comments made by Austin and Jansson after controversial league fixtures.
Jansson, the United centre-back, was punished with a one-match ban and a £1,000 fine by the FA after swearing in a live interview and accusing referee Jeremy Simpson of “robbery” at the end of Leeds’ 1-1 draw with Brentford on October 6.
Austin, meanwhile, hit out at the match officials following their decision to disallow a goal in Southampton’s 1-1 draw with Watford on November 10 but avoided a misconduct charge.
Speaking after full-time, Austin said: “It's ridiculous. They (Watford) shouldn't be in the game.
"We get a point and we scored a perfectly good goal to make it 2-0, the game’s done and dusted and we win the game. The officials cost us two points today.
“It's a joke. All VAR this, VAR that. The officials clearly need help. We play in the Premier League, the best league in the world, the most watched league in the world. Give them all the help they need because clearly they cost us two points today. It's a joke.”
The YEP understands that the FA saw Austin’s remarks as fair criticism but concluded that Jansson’s “robbery” comment had called into question the integrity and impartiality of Simpson.
Writing in the programme for today’s game between Leeds and Bristol City, Kinnear said: “While Pontus receive a fine and a one-match ban, Charlie Austin did not even face a regulatory commission.
“On reviewing the transcripts it was difficult to identify a difference in the nature or vehemence of the comments (with the possible exception of Pontus’ erroneous use of a playground expletive).
“In line with our philosophy of working in partnership with our officials and our governing bodies I have written to the FA seeking clarification.
“I made it clear that we have no interest in Charlie Austin’s punishment but are committed to helping to ensure that the disciplinary process is applied transparently, consistently and fairly. We are awaiting a response.”
Kinnear, meanwhile, made only a brief mention of the spat over the EFL’s decision to so sign a new five-year broadcast deal with Sky Sports.
The £595m contract, which starts next season, was agreed on Monday despite fierce opposition from a number Championship clubs, Leeds included.
“Much has been made in the press of the EFL’s new broadcast deal with Sky,” Kinnear wrote.
“It is important that supporters know Leeds United remain convinced that any solution to the broadcast of EFL fixtures can only be on the basis of protecting attendances and securing the position of all 72 clubs.”