• Gibbs has red card against Chelsea rescinded
• Andre Marriner appointed to referee Southampton v Newcastle
Andre Marriner has been spared the indignity of a temporary demotion from the elite list of select group referees and will officiate in the Premier League this weekend, despite sending off the wrong player during Arsenal's thrashing at Chelsea last Saturday.
The Birmingham official will take charge of Southampton's game against Newcastle United at St Mary's, with Professional Game Match Officials Limited, the body that appoints referees for England's top flight, having considered his mistake as an isolated error. Marriner had sent off Kieran Gibbs for deliberate handball in preventing a goalscoring opportunity, when it had actually been Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain diving to his left on the far post to tip away Eden Hazard's shot.
Neither player is to serve a suspension as a result of the incident early in the derby at Stamford Bridge, with an independent regulatory commission confirming on Monday that Gibbs's red card had been a case of mistaken identity and determining that Oxlade-Chamberlain did not warrant a dismissal as Hazard's shot had been drifting wide. Arsenal's appeals were therefore upheld, with the pair available for Tuesday's visit of Swansea to the Emirates Stadium.
The fact that Oxlade-Chamberlain's offence was not deemed, in the commission's view, to be a red card hardly reflects well on Marriner, who had apologised to Arsenal's manager, Arsène Wenger, and Gibbs in the wake of Saturday's error. The referee is understood to have been left distraught by his mistake, although colleagues on the 18-strong elite panel of referees have rallied around him at their fortnightly training at St George's Park. The incident was discussed among the officials in their technical session overseen by Mike Riley on Monday – the referees also undertake physical training and testing on their two-day meet – with the onus very much on learning lessons to avoid a repetition.
Marriner had apparently been unsighted by the diving goalkeeper, Wojciech Szczesny, and had immediately sought clarification from his assistant referees and fourth official over what precisely had occurred at the far post. However, while the additional officials confirmed an offence had taken place that warranted a penalty, they were unable to determine the identity of the player concerned. The referee, who has conceded he should have moved immediately to identify which Arsenal player was lying on the turf after his dive, therefore stuck with his initial assessment and sent off Gibbs, despite both players' protestations to the contrary.
PGMOL had the option to relegate Marriner to the Football League for a week as punishment for his error but prefer to resort to that tactic only when an official has been guilty of consistently underperforming in the top flight. For what is considered a one-off error – and cases of mistaken identity remain rare – the favoured tactic is for the official to "get back on the horse" at the first opportunity. He had not been allocated a fixture in midweek but the game at St Mary's offers Marriner a chance to make amends of sorts.