Referee ‘Respect’ programme needs Premier League help

SUFFOLK FA chief executive Martin Head today defended the ‘Respect’ programme after Ipswich Town manager Roy Keane questioned the value of the scheme that seeks to improve relationships between players, clubs and referees.

But Head admits that non-league football needs the Premier League and Football League to show a better example if it is going to work.

Keane wondered what good the programme had achieved after being launched in a blaze of publicity two years ago.

“Pressing referees to send off players is corrupting the English game unfortunately,” said Keane.

“There was a ‘Respect’ programme launched in a big way aimed at helping referees.

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“How long did that last?

“Not long, and this is where we find ourselves.”

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Head confirmed that the numbers of referees had increased both nationally and locally, but that this improvement was also down to county FA’s appointing football development officers.

“The ‘Respect’ programme is half-way through its four-year term,” said Head.

“We should judge it when it ends.

“But it would help football in Suffolk to support referees if the role models in professional football, and in particular those who are seen every week in the Premier League, were showing 100% commitment to the programme.

“Locally it has been up and down, but statistics show that there has been an improvement.

“But I’m sure with more help from the top the response would be even better.

“It has been difficult trying to get the message across to top Premier League managers and this has been a weakness in the programme.

“But we are trying – and what is the alternative?

“The programme possibly needs a re-vamp at its half-way stage, but what we really need is for professional football to come more onboard and increase the emphasis.”

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