Surge for red cards

FootballDISCIPLINARY statistics released by the Suffolk Football Association have revealed a huge jump in cautions given out to county footballers.

DISCIPLINARY statistics released by the Suffolk Football Association have revealed a huge jump in cautions given out to county footballers.

Comparison of figures from the 2004/5 and 2005/6 seasons have found a major rise, with 931 sending-offs in 2004/5 compared to 1,086 last season - a 16.6% hike in just two years.

The increase in cautions is even more marked, from 6,191 two years ago to 7,639, adding up to a 23% rise over the same period.

Encouragingly however, there has been a marked reduction in assaults on referees, from 11 last year to five.


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The news came following the decision of long-serving Disciplinary chief Gary Steed to step down due to ill health.

Mr Steed, who will retain an advisory role and his post as Bury St. Edmunds Regional Disciplinary Secretary, does not attribute the increase in cautions to any significant rise in poor behaviour.

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He said: "In my 26 years in office almost without exception disciplinary statistics have increased. This has happened not just in Suffolk but all over the country.

"There are a number of reasons for this, not least the increasing popularity of football from the very young to veterans, and of course our culture in life has changed quite dramatically even over my 26-year reign.

"With regard to cautions these have increased dramatically in the past two years, in many quarters this has been mainly attributed to the easy-to-complete referee caution forms, whereby a referee does not have to write a full reason for the caution but just insert the offence code.”

Commenting on the reduction in referee assaults, Mr Steed said: "The assaults reported although fewer are still not acceptable, indeed one assault upon a referee is one too many.

"Referees are a priceless commodity and players need to respect and appreciate them. One third of all the offences reported are avoidable as they relate to verbal offences."

Suffolk FA County Secretary Martin Head, commenting in this year's annual report, said: "Behaviour on the field did not show much sign of improvement.

"At a recent meeting of the Discipline Committee some changes to the way discipline is dealt with were agreed. During this period we will also have to cope with the long awaited change from 'time' to 'match' suspensions."

The switch to matchday suspensions, as opposed to counting days from the offence which may not include games, will apply to all clubs at Ridgeons League level.

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