Twelve-match ban for referee abuse

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The Independent Online

Players who jostle referees will be given suspensions of at least 12 matches - and a year-long ban if they repeat the offence - under new Football Association guidelines.

Players who jostle referees will be given suspensions of at least 12 matches - and a year-long ban if they repeat the offence - under new Football Association guidelines.

Players who actually push referees will be dealt with even more severely, especially if the official were to fall over as Paul Alcock did in the infamous incident involving Paolo Di Canio, or were to be injured.

Offences missed by officials during a game will now be reviewed by a new advisory panel while clubs whose players are involved in mass intimidation of officials or mass confrontations on the pitch will be fined up to £250,000 if a Premiership team, with the threat of up to two points being deducted in "serious cases".

For the first time, there will also be an automatic fine - of £25,000 for a Premier League club and less in lower divisions - for any team which has at least six players booked or sent off in a match.

"The new disciplinary system provides the clarity, consistency and transparency that everyone in the game demands," the FA chief executive Adam Crozier said yesterday. "It is designed to be hard but fair in the way that it treats every player, club and manager in the same way."

The FA have laid out guideline punishments for each category of offence. In the more serious cases of indiscipline, team captains could be more harshly punished due to their supposed responsibilities.

Those who "jostle or hold" match officials face the sternest treatment, with a minimum punishment of a 12-match ban and a fine of four weeks' wages, "rising to a greater penalty if a match official is pushed".

The new regulations add that "any repetition at any time in a player or club official's career for any type of such offence" would automatically result in "a suspension of at least one full calendar year to sine die".

Any "threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour to a match official before, during or after a game" would punished by at least a three-game ban plus a fine of one week's salary, while similarly offensive words would result in at least a two-match suspension.

The FA have set out further guidelines for individuals who target opponents or react to members of the crowd, while the penalties for an offence motivated by "discrimination" will be at least doubled.

The governing body have also dealt with the punishments likely to be meted out to clubs who transgress the rules from the start of the new campaign. The maximum such fine will now be £250,000, with the possibility of up to two points being deducted "in very serious cases only, for instance where there is serious violence by two or more players of one club to another player(s)".

A second transgression could treble the fine as well as increase the chances of points being taken away, while the same level of punishments are in place for occasions when three or more players from one club either harass or intimidate a referee.

The guidelines also include control of crowds, restrictions on any form of betting by players or managers and lifetime bans on ticket allocations for those in the game who sell or offer tickets in excess of face value.

The FA will increasingly use video evidence with offences missed by match officials or those in which referees have been unable to identify all those involved to be reviewed by the new advisory panel. This will be made up of a pool of 12 members, who will all be former players, referees, managers or administrators and will be appointed by the FA on an annual basis.

Three of them will be contacted for each incident and will independently be asked to give their opinion on whether a disciplinary charge should be brought, with Crozier making the final decision.

FA CRACKDOWN POINT BY POINT

REFEREE ABUSE

Physical contact such as "jostling or holding" by a player or club official with a match official will lead to at least a 12-match ban and a fine of four weeks' wages.

THREATENING BEHAVIOUR OR WORDS

Punishments range from a fine of one week's wages to at least a three-match ban.

CONDUCT OF PLAYERS

Intimidation or harassment of the referee by three or more players from one team will lead to fines of up to £250,000 in the Premiership; £50,000 in the First Division; £25,000 in the Second Division; £10,000 in the Third Division; £2,500 in the Football Conference; £1,000 in the Isthmian, Northern Premier and Southern Leagues. In "very serious cases only", there is the possible deduction of two points.

SIX OR MORE BOOKINGS

When six or more players from a team are booked or sent off, there will be an automatic fine of £25,000(Premiership); £5,000 (First Division); £2,500 (Second Division); £1,000 (Third Division); £500 (Football Conference); £250 (Isthmian, Northern Premier and Southern Leagues). Each additional offence of this nature would result in the fine being increased - the second offence is double the fine and the third offence is treble.

CROWD CONTROL

Clubs are responsible for their crowds, with fines and possible points deductions.

DISCRIMINATION

Any offence which is motivated by discrimination will result in double the normal penalty.

ACCUMULATED BOOKINGS

Players with a total of five bookings by the end of February will receive a one-match ban. Those given 10 yellow cards by the second Sunday in April will get a further two-match ban. A three-match ban comes into force for 15 cautions and a four-game suspension for 20 bookings.

ADVISORY PANEL

This will view video evidence, and will have a pool of 12 members - former managers, referees, players or administrators no longer linked to a club. The only decisions reviewed will be those concerning mistaken identity or wrongful dismissal.

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