Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

New respect initiative planned

Richard Scudamore

Managers and players face a new crackdown on their behaviour towards referees from the start of next season.

The Premier League clubs have announced a new campaign targeting "unacceptable" behaviour towards officials following a number of high-profile incidents this season, culminating in Sir Alex Ferguson receiving a five-match touchline ban for his TV outburst at referee Martin Atkinson following Manchester United's defeat at Chelsea.

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore said: "We do need to concentrate on the player and manager relationship with the referee this time, as every one of us knows that there have been elements of unacceptable behaviour."

He added: "As to what we think is unacceptable; it's vitriolic abuse towards match officials and that has on occasions gone unpunished; the surrounding of referees is unacceptable; the goading of referees into trying to get opponents sanctioned we think is unacceptable; and also the undue criticism, where it spills over into questioning the referee's integrity or his honesty is also unacceptable."

The Premier League will also consult the League Managers' Association, the FA, the Professional Footballers' Association, and then the PGMO body that represents match officials.

Scudamore said that they did not expect perfect behaviour from players but that they had to realise that their being idols carried responsibilities.

"Footballers enjoy a privileged lives," he said. "The contrast between what is happening in their world and what is happening in the rest of Britain, and indeed most of the world, is getting starker.

"Whether it is realistic or not they can't entirely be perfect role models, they are young males and boys can behave badly from time to time. But there is a point where extra responsibility comes with the territory.

"There are so many good things about what footballers do, so this is not us demonising them, But the mood is that things could improve."

The league point out there have been some recent improvements and that over the last two seasons bookings in the top flight for dissent have decreased by 20% year on year.

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