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FA to act over respect for refs

Sir Alex Ferguson remonstrates with referee Mike Dean at the end of Manchester United's 4-3 win over Hull at the beginning of November
Sir Alex Ferguson was charged after remonstrating with referee Mike Dean

The Football Association will seek a meeting with the League Managers' Association (LMA) in an attempt to get its Respect campaign back on track.

Part of the FA initiative - launched at the start of the season - promotes better behaviour towards referees.

However, it has been undermined by a series of outbursts from managers.

"It has been disappointing to witness various incidents of managers publicly criticising referees recently," said FA director of governance Jonathan Hall.

"The FA will seek to meet with the LMA and individual managers regarding the Respect programme as soon as possible and offer them a further opportunity to raise any concerns."

The FA's programme of Respect activities aims to "combat unacceptable behaviour in our game at every level - on the pitch and from the sidelines".

The latest incident where a manager heavily criticised a match official occurred on Sunday, when Newcastle interim boss Joe Kinnear labelled Martin Atkinson a "Mickey Mouse referee" after the 2-1 defeat by Fulham.

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The FA has since asked Kinnear to explain his comments, while England football's governing body recently charged Sir Alex Ferguson with improper conduct.

The Manchester United boss was charged after remonstrating with referee Mike Dean at the end of his side's 4-3 win against Hull on 1 November.

The Scot has been given until 19 November to respond.

LMA chief executive Richard Bevan attended a meeting of 35 managers at Coventry's Ricoh Arena on Monday - and afterwards suggested that better teamwork and communication would help the Respect campaign to succeed.

"It is about creating an environment in which the Respect campaign can really flourish," he stated.

The LMA will propose fast-tracking of talented young referees, looking at the role of referee assessors and post-match appraisals, and clarifying ambiguous rules relating to offsides and hand-ball decisions.

Nobody from Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) - the referees' governing body - was invited to attend the meeting in Coventry.

We should be trying to respect the referees anyway. We don't need a PR stunt to try to do that

Sunderland manager Roy Keane

And it is understood that the LMA wants a representative, probably a former player or manager, on the board of PGMOL.

But Bevan denied suggestions that the LMA could call for Hackett to resign if its demands are not met.

"The intention is there to support Keith Hackett and his management team to try to create better teamwork," added Bevan.

"There is a need there to tackle the challenges that face the game together.

"The managers have got a great wealth of experience, knowledge and expertise and perhaps if there is any frustration it is that we are not embracing that."

Hall added that managers needed to be more understanding of match officials but sympathised when decisions go against their team.

"We accept that it can be very frustrating for managers when an incorrect decision is taken but no referee does so deliberately, just as players and managers do not deliberately make mistakes," he commented.

"It is easy to support officials when a decision goes your way, the real test is the ability to show understanding when a call goes against you.

"There are already various official channels for managers to provide their views on refereeing performances and managers are actively encouraged to use these channels rather than criticising referees through the media."

There has been real progress at grassroots level

FA official Jonathan Hall

Some managers have questioned the Respect agenda, including Alan Pardew at Charlton and Roy Keane at Sunderland, who faces an FA charge of improper conduct following comments made to Martin Atkinson during the 5-0 defeat at Chelsea.

"We should be trying to respect the referees anyway. We don't need a PR stunt to try to do that," Keane told BBC Sport.

"I know there was a meeting with the LMA and the managers - I declined the offer to go.

"Officials will always make mistakes and that has not been a problem. The problem I have had is the big mistakes always seem to go against us.

"Do I need to sit down again and talk about referees? There comes a point where the talking has to stop."

But Hall insisted the campaign has had a positive impact and is making a difference at grassroots level.

"There have been some positive signs at the top end of the game, in particular the drop in instances of players harassing referees," he said.

"Additionally, we should also make clear that there have only been a small number of league managers who have chosen to publicly criticise officials on the field or through the media.

"There has been real progress at grassroots level.

"We will not give up on it and will continue to strive for that improvement at all levels of the game."

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see also
'Mickey Mouse' ref angers Kinnear
09 Nov 08 |  Newcastle
Referees 'only human', says Webb
06 Nov 08 |  Football
Ferguson hits back at FA charge
07 Nov 08 |  Man Utd
Keane requests FA conduct hearing
04 Nov 08 |  Sunderland
Pardew queries 'Respect' campaign
22 Sep 08 |  Charlton


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