Respect figures are out for the first half of the 2009/10 football season, with a dramatic positive increase in referee numbers at the heart of the programme’s latest set of findings.
The highlight of the season to date has been the vast increase of over 45% in the recruitment of referees at Level Nine – the first step on the road to becoming a fully-fledged referee – with 5,197 new recruits taking to the field up and down the country to significantly boost The FA’s ‘Get Into Refereeing’ campaign, in association with Carlsberg.
At the turn of the year total qualified referee numbers were found to have risen by nearly 9% to 25,502, compared to the same period for 2007/08.
Female referees have also increased in number, rising 13%, whilst the total number of new trainee female referees for the year is 407, up 17%.
Respect has also, this season, become a compulsory module in The FA’s training courses for all new referees and coaches (over 25,000) coming into the game each season.
Premier League referee Chris Foy said: “Respect isn’t a campaign, it isn’t a gimmick, it’s a programme and it’s working.
“In my county we have seen a 22% increase in referees, which is great. A lot of those are young referees who want to get involved. I think that has just got to be good for refereeing and good for football.
“From top-flight to grassroots we have a seen a decrease in the number of yellow cards for dissent which has been wonderful because it is one of the reasons people were leaving football, especially referees, because they were getting abuse.”
Results for the first half of 2009/10 have shown that in the professional game dissent cautions are down on figures from the same period in 2008/09. From the Premier League through to League Two dissent cautions have dropped by 13%.
In grassroots football the total number of cautions and misconduct is down by 9% and remain well below the levels of 2007/08 whilst dissent cautions are down by 6%. All dismissals are down by 6% and misconduct conducts charges are down by 12%. These figures continue to show a declining trend in the national game since 2007/08.
Assaults on referees are also down by 26%, with some 226 reports of incidents this season compared to 307 at the same stage last season.
In the Youth Game the introduction of designated spectator areas – often marked out with a temporary barrier – to keep supporters off the touchline is beginning to have an effect and some 10,700 people have, to date, undertaken the FA’s online Respect Parents course.