Respect figures show dramatic increase in referees
Increase in refereeing recruitment for first half of the season.
Respect figures are out for the first half of the 2009/10 football season, with a dramatic positive increase in referee numbers at the heart of the programme’s latest set of findings.
The programme kicked off a new year at the Walkers Stadium in January as Leicester City FC, in conjunction with Leicestershire & Rutland County FA, hosted the first ever Respect fixture against Newcastle United, as the professional and amateur game joined forces to promote Respect and the Football League’s Enjoy The Match campaign.
The highlight of the season to date has been the vast increase of over 45% in the recruitment of referees at Level Nine – the first step on the road to becoming a fully-fledged referee – with 5,197 new recruits taking to the field up and down the country to significantly boost The FA’s ‘Get Into Refereeing’ campaign, in association with Carlsberg.
At the turn of the year total qualified referee numbers were found to have risen by nearly 9% to 25,502, compared to the same period for 2007/08.
Female referees have also increased in number, rising 13%, whilst the total number of new trainee female referees for the year is 407, up 17%.
Respect has also, this season, become a compulsory module in The FA’s training courses for all new referees and coaches (over 25,000) coming into the game each season.
Premier League referee Chris Foy said: “Respect isn’t a campaign, it isn’t a gimmick, it’s a programme and it’s working.
“In my county we have seen a 22% increase in referees, which is great. A lot of those are young referees who want to get involved. I think that has just got to be good for refereeing and good for football.
“From top-flight to grassroots we have a seen a decrease in the number of yellow cards for dissent which has been wonderful because it is one of the reasons people were leaving football, especially referees, because they were getting abuse.”
Results for the first half of 2009/10 have shown that in the professional game dissent cautions are down on figures from the same period in 2008/09. From the Premier League through to League Two dissent cautions have dropped by 13%.
Only one harassment charge has been raised in the top five divisions –from Premier League to Football Conference. Last season there were no harassment charges in the same period but encouragingly since last summer’s change in the laws relating to harassment – making it even easier for officials and The FA to bring charges against participants – this number remains low compared to the figure of nine charges in the same period for season 2007/08.
In grassroots football the total number of cautions and misconduct is down by 9% and remain well below the levels of 2007/08 whilst dissent cautions are down by 6%. All dismissals are down by 6% and misconduct conducts charges are down by 12%. These figures continue to show a declining trend in the national game since 2007/08.
Assaults on referees are also down by 26%, with some 226 reports of incidents this season compared to 307 at the same stage last season.
In the Youth Game the introduction of designated spectator areas – often marked out with a temporary barrier – to keep supporters off the touchline is beginning to have an effect and some 10,700 people have, to date, undertaken the FA’s online Respect Parents course.
Ian Watmore, CEO of The FA commented on the Respect programme, saying: “We want people to be passionate about the game in the way they play it and the way they watch it, but there is a difference between passion and abuse, there is a difference between banter and vile comments and I think we need to find that balance in each of those areas.”
Stuart Pearce, England Under-21 head Coach added: “Football should be enjoyable for everyone: for the referee to turn up, for the young players to turn up and enjoy the game in the right spirit and come away from the game with a real feel-good factor.”
The FA’s Respect Manager, Dermot Collins, said: “I am really pleased that we are having an impact on people’s experience of the game and that people are trying to modify their behaviour for the good of the game. The increase in the number of referees, an improvement in the relationship between players and match officials, a decrease in dissent and improvements in the conduct of spectators at youth games means that Respect is beginning to have its desired effect. There is still a lot to do but these results are encouraging.”
Out of 1,169 leagues, the number that has signed up to Respect now stands at 707, whilst over 60,000 education packs have been distributed to leagues, clubs and referees. The level of awareness of Respect is 89% among those active in the grass roots game and 63% amongst football fans.
A survey of over 3,500 referees has also told The FA that the majority believe the Respect programme to be of real value to their role. The same survey has confirmed that the most useful Respect measure is the ongoing and increasing use of captains in the game, and 35% of referees consider that Respect makes it more likely that they will remain a referee.
Although progress has been made there remains an ongoing concerted effort across the whole game to further improve many aspects of the game that continue to fall below the acceptable standard of behaviour. Respect is the collective responsibility of everyone involved in football to create a fair, safe and enjoyable environment in which the game to take place.