Swansea City are adamant that their ballboys were not under instructions to time-waste in Wednesday night's Capital One Cup semi-final second leg, when their 2-0 aggregate victory over Chelsea was overshadowed by the red card Eden Hazard was shown late on for kicking out at a ballboy.
With 12 minutes remaining, Hazard tried to retrieve the ball from under Charlie Morgan, the 17-year-old son of the Swansea director Martin Morgan. The teenager, stationed behind the home goal, seemed in no rush to give the ball back and fell to the floor after tangling with Hazard. The Belgium international then appeared to make contact with Morgan's ribs as he tried to kick the ball out. Although Morgan may have been hurt, his reaction seemed a little theatrical. Hazard, however, could have no complaints with the red card that the referee Chris Foy brandished.
Morgan was invited into the Chelsea dressing room after the game, where he and Hazard shook hands and each apologised for their part in the unsavoury incident. It later emerged that Morgan, who has worked as a ballboy at the Liberty Stadium for six years but was drafted in at short notice on Wednesday evening because a colleague had been unable to get to the game as a result of the poor weather, tweeted before the Chelsea match "#needed #for #timewasting".
Swansea, however, are dismissive of any suggestion that the ballboys were told to time-waste. "There was no agenda, absolutely not," Leigh Dineen, Swansea's vice-chairman, told the Guardian. "Stoke, a few years ago, would get the ballboy to wipe the ball down for a long throw and that was something the ballboys were obviously told to do. But certainly we don't line up the ballboys and ask them to waste time. Definitely not."
Dineen believes that Foy had no option but to send Hazard off. "If that took place on the pitch, he would be sent off," he said. "If a player was lying on the floor and another player had kicked out, the referee would have no alternative but to send him off."
At this stage, Swansea have no plans to launch an investigation of their own into the incident. The club are keen to "move on" and draw a line under an episode that has taken the attention away from a remarkable achievement. "We have played two games against the European Champions and they have failed to score, and I think it's sad that's been overshadowed by this incident," Dineen said. "It's happened, it's over and done with, they've shook hands and we move on."