Respect programme - have things changed seven years on?

Wednesday 01 Jul 2015
The final disciplinary figures for the 2014-15 season are out and they show a reduction from last term in cautions for dissent and misconduct. 

The stats cover all levels of affiliated football from the Premier League, Football League and National League System through to the grassroots County FA leagues - the activity of 1,150 leagues, 113,000 teams and an estimated 1.2m fixtures for the season. 

Category  2013-14  2014-15  % change 
 Cautions  333879  354041  +6%
 Dissent  86032  82659  -4%
 Dismissals  47604  49959  +5%
 Misconduct  17969  15342  -15%

It is now seven years since the launch of The FA’s Respect programme and possible to compare the new figures with those from 2008-09 - the first season of the Respect programme. 

So, after seven seasons of Respect, what difference has the programme made? 

  • Cautions are roughly at the same level after seven seasons  [from 354,855 to 354,031].
  • All dissent cautions are down by  23 per cent [from 106,568 to 82,659].
  • The percentage of dissent cautions to all cautions has fallen from 30 per cent to 23 per cent.
  • All dismissals are down by 8 per cent [from 54,268 to 49,959].

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The number of cautions for dissent and misconduct is down from 2013-14, but dismissals are up

  • All misconduct charges in relation to team officials or spectators are down by 13 per cent [from 19,938 to 15,342].
  • We have improved the environment of youth football by the introduction of designated spectator areas, Respect training for coaches, codes of conduct, pitch-side marshalls, parents briefings and Respect signage.  Despite this, there is a need to educate a new intake of parents and their children every season. 
  • We now have approximately 27,000 registered referees up from circa 23,000 in 2008.
  • More importantly, the coverage of fixtures has improved considerably, as has enjoyment of games. 

Since the 2008-09 season, in the professional and semi-professional game, the number of dissent cautions has also fallen as a consequence of the efforts of clubs, players, match officials and campaigns such as Respect and ‘Get on with the Game’. 

Despite public perception of the professional game, behaviour appears to have improved rather than deteriorated: 

  • Premier League – 48 per cent
  • Championship – 38 per cent
  • Football League 1 – 42 per cent
  • Football League 2 – 48 per cent
  • In the top 16 Leagues and Divisions, the total number of dissent cautions has fallen by 30 per cent 

The FA is also relieved to see a decline in the number of assaults and improper conduct directed at referees in 2014-15, although one assault is too many. 

Offence  2013-14  2014-15 
Assault on a match official  191  100
Improper conduct against a
Match official [incl. physical
contact and threatening 
and/or abusive language]
 380  374

The FA has sought to exclude from football for as long as possible those who assault referees. 

CFAs, leagues, clubs and the referees’ profession offer support to those that have experienced these distressing incidents and, thankfully, many retain the confidence to return to the game. 

By FA Staff