Maik Taylor admitted that the loss of Nicky Butt for three games will put a dent in Birmingham City's hopes of climbing away from the lower reaches of the Barclays Premiership.

Referee Dermot Gallagher brandished a straight red card to the 30-year-old midfielder after he had kicked out at Dario Silva.

It means Birmingham will be without their influential midfielder for tomorrow night's Carling Cup tie at Scunthorpe but, more importantly, he will miss the next two Premiership fixtures against Liverpool and Arsenal.


Butt was today charged by the Football Association with making abusive comments to a match official.

Having been dismissed by referee Dermot Gallagher, Butt was seen on television to direct his displeasure at the linesman whom Gallagher had consulted prior to showing the red card.

More on this story in Tuesday's Post


Butt was the outstanding player on show before his moment of madness and left Mr Gallagher with no option once the referee had consulted with his linesman.

Television evidence supported the view taken by the officials who - with the regulations that are currently in place - were left with no alternative but to dismiss the England international.

Goalkeeper Taylor admitted that Butt was left downcast in the dressing room at half-time.

"I didn't see what happened, as I was watching the ball," said Taylor.

"Nicky said that their lad (Silva) had gone into him first and he has put his foot out. It is one of those things.

"He was absolutely devastated in the dressing room at half-time, but I think he'll be pleased that we got something out of the game.

"The referee came over and said he hadn't seen anything but he had spoken to the linesman and he had to go by what he was told.

"Nicky was playing well up to that point. He has been playing well for us all season, so it will be a loss to us.

"It spoiled the game, really-because it had been a good spectacle up to that point, but the boys defended well and picked up a point.

"With the injuries we have got, the last thing we need is to have another player out, but it is an opportunity for someone else to come in."

Butt made his feelings towards the linesman all too apparent and it is fortunate that the pitchside microphones did not pick up what the television cameras showed as the former Newcastle and Manchester United player stormed off the pitch.

Taylor added: "He is a full-blooded, committed player. It was probably a rush of blood, spur-of-the-moment reaction and these things happen because people can lose control some times.

"But you will have to ask him what happened, as I didn't see the incident."

Steve Bruce was scathing of the decision to dismiss Butt and claimed that football was in danger of becoming 'soft.'

While the manager's decision to back his player is admirable and there is indeed a need for common sense among match officials, everyone in football was made aware of the rules at the start of the season. The game has changed considerably since tackles from behind and stray elbows would only receive a finger-wagging from the referee.

Whether it has changed for the better is open for debate, but Mr Gallagher was within his rights to send off Butt and give Silva no more than a caution.

Butt's biggest error was choosing to aim a kick at a player who needed no second invitation to fall to the ground all afternoon, along with his team-mate Laurent Robert.

Once the dust has settled, Bruce may well see the incident involving his influential midfielder in a different light, but there is no denying that the game has changed immeasurably since his playing days

"The Premiership is the best league on the earth," said Bruce. "We are English and we like to see a bit of blood and thunder, we like to see a bit of spirit, we like to see a few fisticuffs and tackles.

"If we are not careful, we are going to spoil the whole spectacle because it is nonsense what happened. We are in danger of the game turning soft. In my day, the referee would have had a quiet word and said 'hey the two of you, pack it in and get on with the game', that's the end of it.

"It's new to the game... there will be sendings-off galore and bookings galore.

"It's petulance, but we all know it's a man's game and emotions run high."

The rows of empty seats at Premiership grounds across the country at the weekend would appear to support Bruce's complaints, but this directive isn't going to change.