Livingston manager Mark Burchill came in for serious criticism last night after defending his player Kieran Gibbons for a shocking, potentially leg-breaking tackle on Rangers star Nathan Oduwa.
On-loan Tottenham winger Oduwa was chopped down by Gibbons just 12 seconds into the sides’ Petrofac Training Cup quarter-final on Tuesday night in a challenge which was difficult to watch, and could’ve easily seen Oduwa incur a serious injury.
Remarkably, Gibbons wasn’t even shown a yellow card for the incident by referee Andrew Dallas.
And after Gibbons, 20, came in for criticism on social media in the aftermath of the match, his manager leapt to his defence and insisted fans should think twice before hammering a Scottish player.
Speaking during his weekly appearance on Radio Clyde’s SuperScoreboard programme, Burchill said:
You can go on Google and you can see a million worse tackles; two feet off the floor, trying to hurt people with real intent. Kieran Gibbons…we’ve got to remember here, there’s two players involved in this; Kieran Gibbons is a young, talented Scottish football player, who has signed for a Scottish club.
Nathan Oduwa is an English footballer who is not signed for a Scottish club.
So, we’re dragging someone over the coals who is one of our own and could possibly play for Scotland in the future.
Burchill’s remarkable comments seemed to imply that Gibbons should be treated more leniently because of his nationality, and were soon the topic of heated debate on social media…
So Mark Burchill's defence of his player is that he's a Scottish player owned by a Scottish club and Oduwa isn't. Oh dear.
— OnlyAnExcuse (@OnlyAnExcuse) October 21, 2015
Mark Burchill Sailing very close to "Get back tae England" line Cant believe they've allowed that to be broadcast without comment @ClydeSSB
— 54 Titles Forever (@54Beats44) October 21, 2015
Mark Burchill comments are incredible, his comments should be widely condemned
— John McIntosh (@JohnMcIntosh19) October 21, 2015
Astounding comments from Livingston manager Mark Burchill on radio. The type that should get widespread attention, but won't.
— Alan Clark (@_aldo93) October 21, 2015
Really, really poor stuff from Mark Burchill on @ClydeSSB – bringing the nationality of Gibbons and Oduwa into the argument is out of order.
— Nick Thomson (@RFC_Nick92) October 21, 2015
Following the backlash, Burchill quickly tried to clarify his stance, and insisted he meant no offence by the comments. He told The Scottish Sun:
My players certainly didn’t target Nathan. He’s a fantastic young talent and a top player. He is Rangers’ star man.
They give the ball to him all the time and it figures that he’ll be tackled more than other players.
The point I was trying to make on Radio Clyde’s SuperScoreboard was that we have young talents at Livingston as well.
I was trying to defend my own talented young players. But in no way was I showing any disrespect to Nathan.
Fortunately for Rangers fans, Oduwa was left unharmed by the tackle despite limping off at half-time and is in contention to face St Mirren in the Championship on Saturday.