PREMIER LEAGUE

Premier League to crack down on harassment of referees

Saturday standards such as surrounding the match official, running half the pitch to contest a decision and grabbing the ref's arm are now to be punished.

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For fans of yellow- and red-card betting, the recently announced changes to referee’s guidelines will be more welcome than they will be in the changing room. The Premier League, EFL and the FA on Wednesday unveiled a fresh raft of offences to which top-flight footballers can aspire on Saturday afternoons.

Professional Match Game Officials are to be encouraged to adopt a stronger stance against miscreants both on the pitch and in the technical areas, where managers are also to be placed on a shorter leash. The chief aim of the new not-to-do list is to dissuade players and technical staff from acting in an aggressive manner towards match officials, with several standard offences to carry mandatory yellow and red card responses.

Running towards an official to contest a decision will result in a caution, as will going nose to nose with the referee to suggest he may have erred in his judgment. “Visibly disrespectful” behaviour will also incur a yellow, dropping a curtain on the carte blanche currently enjoyed by players to sarcastically applaud a booking.

“Offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures towards match officials” will result in a straight red card, while grabbing the ref’s sleeve, jabbing a finger in his chest or any other “non-aggressive physical contact” will bring a yellow from the official’s top pocket.

Surrounding the referee will also result in a yellow “for at least one player” when two or more congregate to harangue the man in black.

Match officials, meanwhile, will be instructed to “retain a professional detachment from players and club staff at all times.”