Referee who showed young Leeds United ace straight red for reckless tackle takes charge of Premier League clash with Chelsea

Referee Chris Kavanagh will take charge of his 96th Premier League game at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

By Flora Snelson
Wednesday, 8th December 2021, 4:58 pm

The 36-year-old has been the man in the middle for 14 Whites including four Premier League clashes.

Last season, Kavanagh oversaw Leeds’ victories at Leicester and Everton and defeats at Crystal Palace and Brighton, where he pointed to the spot after Gjanni Alioski felled Danny Wellbeck in the area earlier this year.

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Kavanagh was also in charge when 10-men Leeds saw off play-off chasing Birmingham City in April 2016.

Stuart Dallas struck twice to put Leeds in a comfortable lead before Blues top scorer Clayton Donaldson clawed one back minutes after the Ulsterman doubled the Whites’ advantage.

Leeds held on, though, and a red card shown to Whites academy graduate Alex Mowatt came too late to give Birmingham a leg-up.

The 21-year-old had become a regular fixture at Elland Road since making his senior debut against his hometown club, Doncaster Rovers, in August 2013. His reckless injury-time challenge on City’s Ryan Shotton, though, perhaps betrayed his inexperience.

Premier League referee Chris Kavanagh. Pic: Michael Regan

The Yorkshireman was shown a straight red card, and 10-man Leeds had only moments to hold on before Kavanagh’s final whistle confirmed the Whites’ victory at St Andrew’s.

But Leeds head coach Steve Evans was not pleased with Kavanagh’s decision.

“We will appeal the sending-off. He slid in with his feet on the floor and it is a yellow card at best,” Evans said.

“If the right decision happens it’ll be overturned.

Stuart Dallas scored twice in Leeds United's 2-1 victory over Birmingham City. Pic: Bruce Rollinson.

"It’s a hard, firm, strong challenge. Maybe some would argue that it’s a yellow card if you were looking back at it. I don’t think many people could look back and say it’s a red card.

"Alex Mowatt doesn’t have a bad tackle in him. If he was inside a crisp bag he wouldn’t get out.

"He’s about technical ability.”

The FA subsequently rejected Leeds’ appeal to overturn the suspension.

Leeds United youngster Alex Mowatt in action against Birmingham City. Pic: Bruce Rollinson.

Kavanagh has officiated seven top flight games so far this season, dishing out 28 yellow cards and two straight reds.

On Sunday at Stamford Bridge, Kavangh will be assisted by Dan Cook and Dan Robathan, with Tony Harrington acting as the fourth official. Mike Dean will take charge of VAR, with Mark Scholes assisting.

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Leeds United head coach Steve Evans. Pic: Bruce Rollinson.