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Premier League to curb player behaviour - Scudamore

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Premier League to act on player behaviour

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has announced a crackdown on the "unacceptable" behaviour by players and managers towards referees.

"The clubs unanimously backed the idea that at the start of next season we want to raise the bar," said Scudamore.

The new campaign will target abuse of match officials as well as surrounding them and unacceptable criticism and trying to get opponents sanctioned.

The Football Association plus referees and players' groups will be consulted.

The 20 top-flight club chairmen have acted after a number of high-profile incidents this season, most recently when Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson received a five-match touchline ban for his television outburst at referee Martin Atkinson after his side's 2-1 defeat at Chelsea on 1 March.

Scudamore added: "I think we do need to concentrate on the player and manager relationship with the referee this time, as every one of us knows that there have been elements of unacceptable behaviour.

"As to what we think is unacceptable; it's vitriolic abuse towards match officials and that has on occasions gone unpunished; the surrounding of referees is unacceptable; the goading of referees into trying to get opponents sanctioned we think is unacceptable; and also the undue criticism, where it spills over into questioning the referee's integrity or his honesty is also unacceptable."

Scudamore said the League Managers' Association has already signalled its support for the campaign.

"We are at a point in the game where we do have to rein back from some of this undue criticism of match officials," he continued.

"The debate will come and we will have it in consultation with managers, and remember the managers are also employed by the clubs so the unanimous support of the clubs today is important."

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Old Trafford boss Ferguson is not convinced the new initiative is required.

"It is not an issue for me. I don't think managers disrespect referees," he argued.

"Richard Scudamore doesn't have a lot to do. He is trying to elevate the Premier League. That is good. That is his job. But I feel he is jumping off a high diving board here without thinking about it.

Speaking about his recent touchline ban, Ferguson said: "I got done for what I considered a fair comment. They gave me a five-match ban. That's fine. That doesn't mean I don't respect referees.

"It is a difficult job. We all know that. I wouldn't referee a game. We do need them."

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp believes a "cooling-off period" before post-match interviews are conducted may help avoid criticism of referees by managers.

"You get a microphone shoved in front of you after 10 minutes of the game finishing and sometimes feelings are running high," he said.

"You say things on the spur of the moment, and it's not easy. There should be a cooling-off period and maybe a chance to speak to the referee after the game about the decisions he has made before you go on the TV."

Scudamore went on to discuss the responsibilities that top players have as role models.

"Footballers enjoy a privileged life," he stated.

"The contrast between what is happening in their world and what is happening in the rest of Britain, and indeed most of the world, is getting starker.

"Whether it is realistic or not they can't entirely be perfect role models, they are young males and boys can behave badly from time to time.

They do an honest job and sometimes they make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes

Harry Redknapp

"But there is a point where extra responsibility comes with the territory. There are so many good things about what footballers do, so this is not us demonising them. But the mood is that things could improve."

Redknapp said that players, as well as managers, have a responsibility to show respect to referees.

"Players want to question decisions but they should be kept away. You get nothing out of chasing referees. It's very rare that they change the decisions so chasing and harassing referees is not a lot of use to anybody and it shouldn't happen," he said.

"It's not an easy job, so you have to give them all the respect in the world.

"They do an honest job and sometimes they make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes."

The Premier League will also consult with the Football Association, the Professional Footballers' Association, and then the PGMO body that represents match officials.



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see also
Ferguson hit with five-match ban
17 Mar 11 |  Man Utd
Scudamore vows to defend Premier League
08 Feb 11 |  Football
No finance bans for clubs - Scudamore
17 Jan 11 |  Football



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