Football: Managers welcome referees' review

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The Independent Online
The League Managers' Association has welcomed a move by Premiership referees to modify their interpretation of Fifa's new guidelines.

The 19 Premiership referees, responding to claims that they were ruining games by a hard-line approach, agreed at a meeting earlier this month on a more subtle stance.

The LMA secretary, John Camkin, claimed that managers had noticed a more lenient approach in games played since the referees decided to exercise more discretion.

"It's a welcome change of emphasis and the subtle change has been noticed in recent games," Camkin said.

"Over the last two to three weeks we have seen that referees can achieve better control of games by not waving yellow cards around and this is a move that will be welcomed by managers, players and fans alike."

The Premiership referees' spokesman, David Elleray, said: "We are not insensitive to people's reactions and we needed to look again and ask if we were being too black and white. Where there are areas of grey we must see these.

"We were moving into a situation where we tended to give a free-kick or a free-kick and a caution. We tended to forget we had the option of a free-kick and a talking-to."

Complaints about Premiership referees reached a crescendo following the sending-off of Sunderland's Paul Stewart for two handball offences in a Premiership game at Highbury on 28 September.

Stewart's dismissal provoked a storm of criticism and, although the referee responsible - Paul Danson - later changed his mind and Stewart's sending-off was scrubbed, the Premiership referees decided on a change of attitude.