This is to provide the membership with a quick update on where we are in building better protection for referees.
As mentioned before, I will not be giving a running commentary on discussions at this time, as we are respectful of their confidential nature and of the politics involved. We are also keen to further grow in this way our reputation for being a trusted and positive influence for change.
FA Regulations – The RA has worked diligently over a significant period of time to lobby for the amendment and strengthening of various regulations that are designed to better protect match officials and to provide a stronger deterrent. I am delighted that various FA sub-committees have allowed passage of the proposals, and we now wait for the FA Council to approve the changes in the coming weeks. It is my view that any FA Councillor voting against is actually working against referees and should really consider their position. I am most grateful for the openness afforded to the RA by the FA, and to everyone involved for working in a really positive and collaborative manner.
Sentencing Council – We can report that a number of MPs from all parties have now written to the Sentencing Council regarding our submission, and I would like to thank those LRAs that have supported us by writing to their local MPs. Those that haven’t done so, ought to reflect on the reason we exist!
To manage expectations, The RA does not anticipate hearing from the Sentencing Council for a few months, and I am not sure if we will be totally successful on this occasion. Nevertheless, and whatever the outcome, we will try and try again.
The RA membership should be aware that, despite a slow start, The FA have been magnificent in their support and deployment of resources. For the record, we enjoy 100% support from Senior Managers and Directors at The FA.
Government – In partnership with The FA, we have attended a number of meetings with MPs and various parliamentary committees to present our concerns and insight. I am also delighted that some MPs have offered to present written questions in the House to various Ministers. These questions are currently being formulated, as we have identified some quick wins. Our whole approach has been described by various MPs as visionary.
Police – We now know which levers to pull in order to ensure that any assault on a match official is dealt with in a timely way. There is provision in the Law already, but we need to ensure that the police treat all such instances comprehensively, and NOT simply say “It’s a football matter”. We still have some work to do in this area, but further meetings with government are planned to cover this off.
This work is not easy and is very time-consuming - but, step by step, we are in a much better position now than a year ago. I will continue to provide further updates as and when possible.
Should anyone have any helpful suggestions or comments which they would like to put forward, then I would welcome email contact directly to me (firstname.lastname@example.org