The Football Association will launch a pilot scheme to encourage players to show more respect to referees, in which only the team captain will be able to speak to the match official. The move was conceived by the FA's chief executive, Brian Barwick.
It is an initiative that will be introduced via county associations at a low-level of the game to test how amateur players respond. Barwick announced the policy at an FA roadshow at West Bromwich Albion's Hawthorns home last night, where he spoke alongside Steve McClaren, the England manager. The idea will be put into practice in January in up to eight leagues.
Barwick said the FA wanted to see if it could prevent the common practice of players crowding round the referee. "These things are done better through discussion rather than a big stick but we want to stop the situation getting out of hand," he said. "There is a lot of emotion and passion in the game but you only have to look at a sport like rugby to see there seems to be a certain level of respect for the officials. That sets a marker down for our game because the treatment of referees is a really serious issue and something we have to deal with."
Other initiatives include "roped-off areas" at junior football matches so parents will not be able to abuse the referee at close quarters. The FA also want players and clubs to sign a "memorandum of understanding" that lays out basic standards of behaviour.
Barwick also advocated the use of goal-line technology. Any rule changes have to be passed by the International Football Association Board, which is linked to Fifa and has four members from the United Kingdom and four from across the world.
"Goal-line technology will ultimately be delivered and the great part of it will be because of the work the FA has done," Barwick said. "I would say we are market leaders in trying to do it and now the Premier League are taking it on in terms of experimentation."
Barwick has been backed by McClaren, who once resigned as president of a local club because of the behaviour of parents.
"If you do not have discipline you are not in control, if you are not in control it can cost you the game," he said. "This thing has to start at the bottom. Over many years of coaching, the players coming through are less disciplined every year and instilling the discipline required into them is getting harder and harder."