Referee Neil Swarbrick has attracted unwelcome headlines after he appeared to send off the wrong West Brom player in just the second minute of their 3-0 Premier League defeat to Manchester City.

It was a disastrous start for the Baggies as defender Gareth McAuley was shown the red card following a foul by Craig Dawson on Wilfried Bony on the edge of the penalty area.

According to BT Sport commentator Darren Fletcher, the referee told a reporter at half-time that it was indeed a case of mistaken identity with West Brom boss Tony Pulis clearly livid with the decision.

Pulis waited until Swarbrick had left the pitch but continued to rant at him as the pair disappeared after the half-time whistle.


West Brom’s official Twitter feed immediately noted that the decision was an incorrect one.

BBC Radio 5 live pundit Danny Mills reacted in frustrated fashion, along with many other experts, calling it a “ridiculous decision”.

“We need to hear from the officials, because I don’t understand what was going through the referee’s mind,” he said.

“I’m sorry but that is just a horrendous decision. One player has got Dawson on his back, and the other has McAuley.

“Does the referee not have the common sense to just say to one of his officials, have I got the right man? They are all mic’d up.”

This latest controversy comes just a month after Sunderland’s Wes Brown was sent off against Manchester United – a dismissal which was later overturned by the FA after appeal.


Brown was sent off by referee Roger East, despite television pictures showing that John O’Shea had clearly fouled United striker Radamel Falcao.

As a result of the appeal, the FA upheld a claim of wrongful dismissal and neither Brown nor O’Shea had to serve a suspension.