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£250,000 fines for harassment of referees

last updated Tuesday 07th December 2004, 9:20 AM
Premiership clubs are facing the prospect of £250,000 fines if their players intimidate or threaten referees.

The Football Association have confirmed that they are preparing to send out a reminder to all clubs about their responsibilities in the wake of the growing trend for players to surround a referee either when he has made a decision during a match, at half-time or after the final whistle.

While the regulation has been in place for a few years no club have been fined the maximum, but Keith Hackett, general manager of Professional Game Match Officials, has compiled a DVD dossier of incidents this season which highlight the pressure referees have been put under by players.

Hackett said: "Clubs are being reminded of their responsibilities to control their players with regard to the harassment of match officials. Those clubs, when three or more players surround a referee, will be reported to the Football Association."

This would be done either by the referee or the match assessor - or both - while the FA's compliance department also have a DVD of games.

Hackett added: "There is general concern that this trend is back in the game. For a period it was curtailed but it's now a problem that needs to be addressed."

Given the lack of respect shown by some managers towards referees at press conferences, usually criticising them despite having little concept of the laws of the game, or the way they berate the fourth official, it is hardly surprising that players behave as they do.

While there can be sympathy for players reacting on the spur of the moment when a referee makes an honest mistake there is a difference between frustration and aggressive dissent. Hackett said: "It's a fine line."

Managers who go on to the field of play to argue with a referee can also expect to be charged, as Middlesbrough's Steve McClaren discovered when he confronted Phil Dowd at Tottenham recently.
Source Daily Telegraph by Christopher Davies

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