The English football authorities are introducing a series of measures to help improve the behaviour of players, managers and coaches across the professional, National League system and grassroots game, as well as addressing the issue of football tragedy abuse.
New policies, procedures, and regulations will come into force from the start of the 2023/24 season, to address unacceptable conduct on the pitch, on the side-lines and in the stands, to ensure that the actions of the minority do not spoil the game for all. This builds on the work carried out throughout last season to combat dangerous and illegal fan behaviour, supported by the ‘Love Football. Protect the Game’ football-wide campaign.
As part of this reset, The FA, Premier League, EFL, Barclays Women’s Super League, Barclays Women’s Championship, National League System (Steps 1-4) and referees’ governing body PGMOL have collectively launched a new Participant Charter.
The charter which was developed in partnership with the League Managers Association (LMA) and Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) will see stronger measures for players, managers, coaches, support staff and club officials to adhere to on a matchday.
Under the new approach, match officials will be empowered to take more robust action alongside a consistent application of the existing measures when participant behaviour falls below expected standards, and The FA will apply stronger supplementary disciplinary action.
Captains are expected to take responsibility for their teammates encouraging them to play fairly and show respect towards the match officials and their decisions.
Where match officials are confronted, surrounded or their personal space invaded by multiple players, at least one player will receive a card. The FA could also take further action against the club.
New measures will include:
· A new technical area code of conduct to require managers, coaches and other club staff members to behave in a responsible manner.
· Increased financial penalties for serious and repeat offenders.
· Academy scholars to undertake refereeing courses to improve players’ education into officiating.
For details of all the measures included within the charter, CLICK HERE.
For the grassroots game, The FA has announced new regulations from the start of the 2023/24 season, including point deductions for teams whose players or coaches commit repeated offences of serious misconduct.
The trial of bodycams for referees will continue into the 2023/24 season, while a new code of conduct will be introduced to set behavioural expectations and embed usage.
Further details on the new point deductions in the grassroots game for the 2023/24 season can be viewed HERE.
To challenge the totally unacceptable presence of football tragedy abuse, for season 2023/24, regulation changes and tough new measures have been introduced which will see people who are found to have committed offences face stadium bans and potential criminal prosecution.
The issue is focused on offensive chanting, gesturing and displaying offensive messages based on football-related tragedies, which causes significant distress to the victims’ families, survivors and affected-club supporters. Football authorities, supporter groups and law enforcement organisations, including the police and CPS, have united to crack down on fans who participate in this vile form of abuse.
In addition to bans and criminal sanctions, a range of in-stadium, in-classroom and online resources will be rolled out under the ‘Love Football Protect the Game’ banner, to educate adults and children alike about the hurt tragedy chanting causes. Ground regulations have also been updated to incorporate references to tragedy chanting.
The game will also continue its efforts to combat dangerous, illegal and unwelcome behaviour off the pitch, be it in the stands or online. Last season a host of new measures were introduced by authorities which saw enhanced sanctions applied for people identified entering the pitch, using pyros, taking drugs to games, throwing objects or for discriminatory abuse.
RESTORATIVE JUSTICE PILOT SCHEME
To support the rehabilitation of those identified as having engaged in negative matchday behaviour, a new pilot scheme is now in development phase which will refer young people to a restorative justice education programme that will seek to inform and educate about the impact of their behaviour on others.
The scheme is being run by the Premier League, EFL, Premier League Community Fund and the EFL Trust with support from local police forces and will be trialled at ten clubs across the Premier League, Championship, League One and League Two.
Mark Bullingham, Chief Executive of the FA, said: "Football has the power to unite and inspire all those that play and watch the game. However, sometimes, this can be negatively impacted by a small minority of players, coaches and fans.
Our collective approach is to reset this behaviour on the pitch and from the side-lines, whilst giving our referees the respect and protection that they deserve. We are also determined to address the rise in unacceptable behaviour from the stands. Incidents such as dangerous conduct, discrimination, and chanting about football-related tragedies have no place in our game – and can lead to football bans and potential criminal action. Passion, emotion and excitement are fundamental to football, however this must be shown in the right way. Everyone can play their part, so that together we can create a safe and enjoyable environment for all."
Trevor Birch, Chief Executive of the EFL, said: "Players and managers are looked up to and whether on the pitch, on the touchline or in the stands, we all have a role to play in protecting our game and making it an enjoyable place for all to enjoy the matchday.
"With over 22 million attending EFL games last season, vibrant, lively stadiums and contests on the pitch make our game so great, but there is a line, and we must all do our bit to check, challenge and address behaviour that crosses the line. These measures build on the work of last season, and I hope they improve the matchday experience yet further in what is promising to be another memorable season."