Stop attacks on referees, Pearce tells managers

A self-styled dog of war is an unlikely ally for our beleaguered referees but Stuart Pearce declared yesterday that managers' post-match tirades against officials were not helping the Football Association's Respect campaign and that they should stop.

Pearce, the England Under-21 manager, was speaking with the words of his third club manager, Brian Clough, ringing in his ears. Clough forbade his players from remonstrating with referees and Pearce showed in his two years at Manchester City's helm that the message stood for managers, too, as far as he was concerned. Did Pearce find it difficult to "take a deep breath" as he believes other managers should do? "Not really," he said. "I've been brought up under Brian Clough to keep my mouth shut. All decisions are going to be balanced over a season. If you don't think refs are going to make any mistakes just look at your own performance as a player or manager and know you can't get decisions right all the time. The same things applies to them – it's physically impossible with the pace of the games nowadays."

But the most powerful case for managers to keep post-match criticisms between themselves and officials was provided by statistics provided during the FA Respect campaign event in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, at which Pearce was speaking. The Association reveals that 8,000 referees are currently quitting the game each year, many of them because they are not prepared to live and work with the abuse, and that 846 grassroots games were abandoned last year due to unacceptable behaviour from either players or fans. A third of games at all levels are subsequently currently taking place with no referee at all.

Such is the inclination of parents to criticise referees and hurl orders at their children that the FA yesterday announced it is providing 50 per cent grants to youth football clubs to erect physical barriers to create a greater distance between players and fans and make the game less pressurised. The FA's Respect manager Dermot Collins said the behaviour of professional managers was influencing the conduct of those, at grassroots level, who consider it acceptable to pressurise and abuse referees when decisions go against them.

Referee Howard Webb believes players' behaviour towards referees had improved and says he now holds great store by the brief conversations he has with captains before games. Diplomatic on the issue of managers' outbursts, he said: "There has to be a little switch in people's heads when they say 'OK, that's enough, I have to think about the image of the game'."

But for all Webb's efforts to appreciate the pressures of those inside the game, he clearly believes the step-change must come from those competing within it. "If something happens in the first minute which is clearly over and above management and can only be deemed worthy of a card, it is my job to deal with it that way, and I'm not going to lower my standards."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future