Keith Hackett column: Red card for denial of obvious goalscoring opportunity is 30 today… but I won’t be celebrating

Where did the time go?

It’s 30 years today since I upset West Ham United fans by sending off Tony Gayle for the denial of an obvious goalscoring opportunity, in the 1991 FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest at Villa Park.

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When I raised the red card everyone inside the stadium was shocked and wondering why I had taken that course of action.

I can give you an insight by stating that if that foul had happened the previous weekend, I would’ve blown for the foul and not issued any further sanction.

So why did Gayle get the red?

A few days before the game, all the Football League referees were summoned to a meeting in Coventry.

The subject was to clarify and change our interpretation of the law with regard to DOGSO (Denial Of an obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity).

Keith Hackett

Former Premier League and FIFA referee Keith Hackett is a columnist for

Before the Thursday meeting we were operating the law where we would only issue a red card if the foul was cynical.

At Coventry we were instructed that any foul, if it denied an obvious goalscoring opportunity, would result in a red card.

So, with no communication by The FA to the stakeholders in the game my actions came as a shock.

From that date I have always made a point of advising fans etc of law changes and interpretations, but that incident will always haunt me.

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1 Comment

  1. rob perkins says:

    i was there and im a forest fan, THAT WAS NEVER A SENDING OFF,, hackett should have been sacked for that

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