Over recent weeks, we have seen a number of serious issues involving assaults, child referees being reduced to tears, and matches abandoned. If you need help, please contact us as our Welfare and Representation Teams are here to assist and support.
I recently promised to keep everyone up-to-date with progress being made in respect of our ongoing work with Government, so here is the latest news.
Word has reached me from my own MP that the Chairman of the Sentencing Council has responded to him in a way that indicates support in principle for what we are proposing. This is good news, and we will wait eagerly to see the outcome of the changes to the Sentencing Guidelines when these are published.
All this has been helped considerably by the numerous LRAs and CRAs around the country that have written to their local MP on the subject, as a result of which there seems to be a swell of support within Parliament. We are now in the process of compiling a few written questions to be posed in the House of Commons over the next few weeks, as this will raise the profile of our aims even further.
We are also involved with arranging a “round table” meeting with a number of Government Ministers to agree a joint approach by the statutory bodies towards the aim of cutting through some of the misconceptions that see assaults on referees as being just a football matter, when they should also be a Court matter. All this is indeed significant progress which has been greatly aided by The FA.
While I may be critical of The FA on a number of issues, and particularly the lack of budget for referees and refereeing, I must place on record that what Neale Barry’s team achieves is remarkable.
Ultimately, the responsibility for grassroots referees lies with their County Football Association. These CFAs are both part of the solution and part of the problem, not least because of the budget cuts that have resulted in about 50% of CFAs not now having their own RDO or sharing one with another county.
All that said, it is right to underline that we have an outstanding working relationship with many people and teams within The FA. Our sole focus is to achieve the best possible outcome for referees in England, and to make refereeing better and thereby a great match experience for all.
We are very grateful for the brilliant engagement we have with The FA, and long may this continue.