SEAN Dyche fears referees are in danger of ‘killing football’ after questioning Dean Marney’s red card against Birmingham City.

The Burnley boss has vowed to consult the assessors after slamming Darren Drysdale’s decision to give the midfielder his marching orders in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat. The second-half dismissal was the third red card shown to the Clarets in 16 games since Dyche took charge in late October.

Kieran Trippier was red-carded after being adjudged to have handled on the line against Charlton Athletic, while Brian Stock was the victim of mistaken identity in the FA Cup defeat at Barnsley earlier this month.

Dyche felt neither were warranted, but was particularly incensed by the latest sending off, and is ready to tackle refereeing authorities.

Marney was dismissed in the 61st minute after going in firmly for a 50-50 tackle with Paul Robinson.

Replays showed the Clarets midfielder had reached the ball first, one-footed, while Robinson arrived later, with both feet, leading Birmingham boss Lee Clark to concede that he feared his team would be the one reduced to 10 men.

“For the greater good of football you can’t be getting sent off for making great tackles like that. I just find it incredible,” said Dyche.

“You cannot take a great tackle like that out of the game because it will kill football.”

Burnley had drawn level through a Ross Wallace penalty after Curtis Davies had put Birmingham in front in the first half.

But the visitors’ one-man advantage took its toll, as Marlon King grabbed a late winner, which only compounded Dyche’s frustration.

“We’ve had six game-changing decisions now in 16 games, including three sendings off – one for mistaken identity, one for a handball on the line which no-one could believe he got sent off for, and that one.

“That’s not good enough, in my opinion,” said Dyche, who is considering further action.

Stoke City boss Tony Pulis held discussions with chairman of the Professional Game Match Officials Board, Mike Riley, last month after feeling too many referees were giving Stoke unfair treatment.

“As a manager you don’t want it to get to that stage, but I’ve just given you the stats and that’s not good reading from 16 games,” said Dyche.

“I’ll be looking for answers from the referees’ association on that one today because I just can’t work it out.

“For a club like us that’s worked so hard to get ourselves into a really strong position, the players worked ever so hard again, played some fantastic football, 10 v 11 still creating chances, (Jack) Butland pulled off a terrific save, Danny Ings hits the bar, some of the football was excellent, but you’re having to earn wins not just by beating 11 players.

“We’re having to go beyond that, and that shouldn’t be right in my opinion.

“The officials should be there to manage the game, not make decisions that change it radically or come as a surprise to people.

“I was surprised to see someone go off the pitch. It had a massive effect on the game when I think we were beginning to control it.”

Dyche now fears tackling is at risk of being eliminated from the game, after questioning Drysdale’s reason for showing Marney a red card.

“It was for excessive force apparently, so I think you’ve got to tackle softly now,” said the Burnley boss.

“We want the beauty of football – all managers out there want to play the beautiful game. We all want to try to be a version of Barcelona and Manchester United and Chelsea, but you can’t take away tackling, you can’t take away the nature of good strong tackles. It’s what fans buzz off and it’s part of the beautiful game. I’m just flummoxed.

“I always try to make it clear the three toughest jobs in football are the two managers and the referee.

“I’ve got no problem with referees, but it’s hard to not have a problem with that performance.”