Mariners player faces open-ended punishment for headbutt

Mariners and Phoenix players during an altercation. Photo / Getty
Mariners and Phoenix players during an altercation. Photo / Getty

Mariners striker Roy O'Donovan faces an open-ended punishment for his headbutt on Phoenix veteran Manny Muscat at the weekend, after being told to report to an A-League disciplinary tribunal tomorrow.

And the Phoenix have confirmed they will present a submission at the tribunal where they will seek reductions in any punishment aimed at Muscat for his role in the ugly incident.

Central Coast's joy at their first win since round one has been soured since by O'Donovan's likely lengthy suspension, after he left Muscat on the floor with a headbutt that was initially only punished with a yellow card.

Muscat was also cited on Monday for an elbow on O'Donovan in the moments beforehand, as the two wrestled in the penalty area. The Phoenix had until noon today to make a submission to mitigate any ban - tipped to be two games under the charge of "assault on a player (e.g. violent conduct when not challenging for the ball)" - on Muscat.

Though O'Donovan is facing the same charge his is being viewed as a more serious case, with FFA invoking the "obvious error" clause to overrule the usual proviso that an incident is seen to be dealt with once a referee has booked a player.

The case has been referred directly to the A-League's disciplinary body, a body that hears the competition's more serious cases such as the eight-match ban given to Sydney FC defender Tiago Calvano in 2013 for grabbing a referee.

There is no upper limit on the tribunal's punishments, and it has tended to come down heavily on instances of serious physical misconduct.

The Mariners declined to comment yesterday, waiting for the case to run its course, but are certain to be without O'Donovan for Friday's trip to Melbourne Victory and several weeks beyond that.

It's likely the club will seek to claim mitigation from Muscat's elbow on O'Donovan, and the striker himself gave a very grudging apology to Fox Sports at the end of last week, lamenting the way Muscat had gone to ground and claiming the defender deserved "an Oscar" for it.

"I've got elbowed in the face not once, not twice, and the referee hasn't seen fit to react to that and book Manny Muscat," O'Donovan said. "I walked away and had a player run into my direction, I leaned my head in and I've reacted to it. He's gone down like a movie star there. He should get an Oscar for that. He timed it perfectly.

"(The referee) felt there wasn't enough force behind what I did. I got yellow-carded and nobody got hurt. Manny played out the rest of the game, he didn't have a scratch or a bruise. We shook hands after the game ... and I'm the only one that has any wounds from the whole event."

- nzherald and

- NZ Herald

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