H The hardest bit is trying to enter the mindset of a professional footballer who, during a meaningless touchline tangle after his team has taken an unassailable 3-0 lead, receives no contact to his face but goes down clutching it as if someone has just whacked him with a sideways blow from a sledgehammer.

Luke O’Nien has been cleared by the FA disciplinary bods of committing the imaginary offence for which Peterborough United’s Ivan Toney managed to have him sent off. I do not know whether Toney has form for this kind of simulation but if he has a shred of dignity and decency, he should apologise now.

If the Chronicle’s excellent James Hunter is right, Toney could even say sorry without worrying about further inconvenience. You and I might think he should now be starting a two-match ban; James thinks his luck will hold out:


There are, as you might expect, Peterborough fans out there who see no harm in what Toney did. Some cry sour grapes, other simply take the hard-of-thinking route, denying wrongdoing on Toney’s part.

One Posh fan with whom I have exchanged tweets praises the player for his “quality again today”. With assorted qualifications, he says the player’s simulation was “not good for the game” and “unacceptable”, a commendable view to take. He points to a wretched tackle by Wyke, the one that got him his second yellow and, on my limited viewing, looked a straight red sort of challenge.

But this debate is about cheating to get an opposing player dismissed. I would be appalled if a Sunderland player did what Toney did and would regard a retrospective punishment as fully deserved.

It goes without saying that if Ivan Toney feels hard done by anything we have said, he has the right to reply and these pages are open to him. Using this e-mail address reaches us.


Please read this comment posted by our deputy editor Malclom Dawson:

Two (and a bit) questions for the EFL.

1. Is Toney going to suffer any punishment for his play acting? There is a precedent – Patrick Banford of Leeds received a two game ban after a similar incident against Villa.

2. This is the 2nd time referee Craig Hicks has had his decision to give a Sunderland player a straight red card overturned, having sent Max Power off at Walsall last season. Will someone speak to him and advise him that in future he should consider his decisions more carefully before sending a player off (especially a Sunderland player)?

And a supplementary – will his performance be taken into account for future games involving SAFC?

Open to the Salut! Sunderland jury ….

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Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by - and principally for - supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

3 Responses to “Will Toney atone? Luke O’Nien cleared but Peterborough man’s simulation stains football” Subscribe

  1. KenG September 4, 2019 at 9:57 am #

    All valid questions, but will we receive an answer or explanation? Of course not!

  2. CSB September 4, 2019 at 4:39 pm #

    What makes all this worse is that there was no way we were coming back, the game to all intent and purpose was over. So why did Toney react the way he did, on-going spat with O’Nien as they had been having a go at each other previously, or just natural reaction to try to take advantage?

    Either way, what he did was simulation to try to gain an unfair advantage and was ably backed by his team mates reactions, not all but some. Its plain and simple cheating and I actually have some sympathy with the officials trying to sort it out as its becoming a fine art form in its own right. Its nothing new and has been around in world football for far too long.

    Professional cheating, for that is surely what it was, if it gains the intended advantage should be retrospectively punished by twice the intended action. The governing bodies really need to grow some here to stamp this play acting out, the fact that we still have it so prevalent in the game simply underlines the prevalence of eunuchs’ in the higher echelons of the rule makers.

    • malcolm September 4, 2019 at 6:21 pm #

      Agreed. Without any punishment for his actions the authorities give carte blanche for other players to do the same when it could still have some bearing on the game.

      Add to that the inconsistency. I have to ask why Banford got a two match ban when Toney gets away Scot free. Had Peterborough been deprived of his services for two games it would be seen as a deterrent to others. Unfortunately we have seen other teams in this division who are not averse to trying to con match officials, Wycombe and Oxford being two whose antics have not impressed me.

      Since we dropped into the third tier we have had four red cards rescinded and Looven’s dismissal was also debatable after the change in the law that was supposed to see a yellow card, not red for a non violent foul that results in a penalty.

      I don’t follow other teams sufficiently to know if another club has been affected as much as we have but I’d be surprised if there was.

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