Football: FA steps up attempt to protect referees

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The Independent Online
A FORTNIGHT ago, the Football Association sent letters to all Premiership and Football League clubs reminding them that they could face fines of up to pounds 250,000 for incidents involving the abuse of match officials. This week the FA will meet representatives of the League Managers' Association and the Professional Footballers' Association to reinforce that message.

The FA is determined to crack down following a number of incidents and have warned clubs it will consider employing the full force of their punishment scale.

Although the deterrent of the maximum fine has been in place for several years, the FA believes that now is the time to remind clubs of their responsibilities.

The FA's reminder notice was already in clubs' in-trays before incidents this week such as Wayne Rooney berating Graham Poll at Highbury and the Portsmouth midfielder Matthew Taylor confronting a linesman during their FA Cup tie with Southampton.

The referees' chief Keith Hackett welcomed the FA's decision to impress the importance of avoiding confrontation. "A lot can be done away from the pitch to educate players," he said. "We all have a responsibility in this matter."