Suffolk football is friendlier than most!

SUFFOLK football is bucking the national trend with the number of referee assaults and general unwanted behaviour remaining at a constantly low level

And two years into Suffolk Football Association’s four-year plan the county is hitting 14 of the 16 targets laid down by the Football Association.

Referee numbers are increasing - both male and female - and it is mainly good news as Phil Knight moves in to replace Martin Head in the key role as Suffolk chief executive.

“We’ve been working hard with Football United, who are made up of representatives of our Saturday and Sunday leagues,” said Knight.

“We are looking to increase the number of clubs, referees and leagues and to advance the great work achieved by Martin Head and Chris Pringle, who was the county development officer.

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“To do this we need to work with outside groups and there is an honesty desire across the table to achieve this.”

Comparing this year to last the number of incidents in Suffolk is bucking the trend and staying at a respectable level.

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Knight in his current role of Suffolk FA referee development manager has played his part in increasing the numbers and quality of match officials with regular training and coaching sessions and get-togethers.

Suffolk FA chairman Mick Pearce said: “The figures are very encouraging and I’d like to thank the team at Suffolk FA and Football United for their efforts and continued commitment to training and quality improvement among players and officials.

“It’s a must to keep football fun, entertaining and safe for all, and the figures are certainly confirming we are achieving this.

“However there is still work to be done as we would like to reduce the figures even more with an aim to make football even more appealing for players, future officials, club volunteers and Knight has admitted that the time might be right to hang up his whistle with his work load about to increase.

He is fourth official at this Saturday’s FA Cup second round game between Brighton and FC United of Manchester, and said:

“I’m over 40 now so it might be time to consider hanging up the whistle,” said Knight.

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