Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher has spoken in defence of Peter Bankes after Paul Heckingbottom’s comments this weekend.

Heckingbottom called out the refs for ‘ruining the game’ after he saw his Sheffield United side lose late in the day at Tottenham this weekend.

However, while Heckingbottom’s comments have split opinion, Dermot Gallagher believes the referee simply cannot win no matter what he does.

Dermot Gallagher responds to Paul Heckingbottom’s comments on Peter Bankes

Speaking on Sky Sports’s ‘Ref Watch’ programme this afternoon, Gallagher assessed a couple of incidents in the United game.

Tottenham Hotspur v Sheffield United - Premier League
Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

But when it came to Heckingbottom’s comments, Gallagher wasn’t having any of it as he defended Bankes.

“So a referee knows the goalkeeper is in a precarious position, he’s already on a yellow card, so he goes to him and says ‘look, be mindful of don’t waste time ‘cos that’s a second yellow card’. I think that’s to be applauded, because he’s gone to the goalkeeper, but now he’s been castigated for it,” Gallagher said.

“So I don’t know where you go from here. You’re doing what people want you to do. It’s almost like you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. If I was that referee I would feel alienated and think ‘well I’m trying to help you and you’re throwing it back in my face’.”

Heckingbottom will now face questions from the FA over his comments, with a fine or ban likely to be the outcome of his outburst.

Sheffield United News View: Response from Gallagher unsurprising

There’s no way Dermot Gallagher was going to wade in and defend Heckingbottom was there? It’s just not going to happen.

In the end, we’ll all need to just move on from this and so will Heckingbottom. But while it’s in the media, it’s worth picking up on what’s being said.

The one note is that Gallagher has effectively ignored Heckingbottom’s point here, like a lot of Tottenham fans have. Yes, we might have been guilty of slowing the game down a bit. But the referees are telling teams how to now play, and that cannot be right.

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