‘Clearly excessive’ – an important phrase, one that leaves no doubt about the issue it describes. With these words, there is no question of indecision, no suggestion that things were hanging in the balance; Definite, decisive, unequivocal; ‘Clearly’ – easy to understand; ‘excessive’ – too much. There really isn’t any room for doubt is there?

One might apply these words to a man returning home in a drunken stupor and breathing all over his long suffering wife; or Mr Creosote in Monty Python’s ‘Meaning of Life, finally exploding after the most gluttonous behaviour imaginable; these are examples that point to the extreme, that accurately portray the phrase ‘clearly excessive’.

So it only stands to reason that when hearing the phrase ‘clearly excessive’ attached to the FA Commission’s review of Nemanja Matic’s 3 match ban for pushing over Ashley Barnes (after, it has to be said, an ‘excessive’ follow through for the tackle on the Serb), that they had decided to make a reduction in the ban that was in line with the wide and largely unanimous condemnation from ex-players of Barnes’s tackle, acknowledging that Matic’s reaction could at least be understood in that context. Must be a 1 game ban then, I thought. That would fit with ‘clearly excessive’ in relation to the 3 match ban. How naive I was. Instead, we read that an ‘excessive’ reduction (note the heavy sarcasm) of 1 game had been applied, leaving the punters and all associated with this sorry saga, in no doubt whatsoever of the FA’s position – er….., well no actually, not when they had used the aforementioned phrase. Yet in a way they were very clear about where they stood, because I’ve always been taught that actions speak louder than words. In this instance, the FA’s actions appear, at best, tokenistic, at worst, insulting. All this adding insult to injury (thankfully no physical injury to Matic, though quite how is nothing short of miraculous) when you reflect that Mr Barnes escaped with nothing more than minor shock at the giant Serb angrily shoving him to the floor.

Sometimes exaggeration can be used to make a point, so that the reader is left in no doubt as to the writer’s stance. One might say that I have been ‘clearly excessive’ in my use of dry humour or sarcasm. Perhaps. But in the FA’s case, the only thing that can be considered ‘clearly excessive’, is their minamalism, their tokenism, and their ignorance of, to use Basil Fawlty’s phrase, ‘the bleedin obvious’. That my friends, is as clear as I can possibly be, even if a little excessive.

Mark Ferris

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