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Dave Deacon

Referee Shortage Directive

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A statement from the Cornwall FA sent to all club secretaries today and is of more relevance to clubs playing on Saturdays.

 

The following MUST be followed by all leagues.

 

 

27th September 2019

 

Referee Shortage – Statement on behalf of Cornwall FA Football Management Board – Leagues Working Group

Due to the shortage of referees in the County, particularly on a Saturday, an emergency meeting of the Cornwall FA Football Management Board Leagues working group was called to discuss the short, medium and long terms implications, as well as the reasons for the current shortage.

 

Player/manager/spectator behaviour and abuse to referees was identified as a major reason for the shortage, additional social factors were also to blame. These, and other issues are being looked at by the Cornwall FA, particularly the new Referee Development Officer Lee Swabey. We will be seeking feedback from Leagues, Clubs and referees and looking at how we can recruit and retain referees moving forward.

 

In Cornwall we are fortunate to have a referee appointment officer, Paul Murphy. However, it has been common practice that if Paul is unable to appoint a referee to a game then that game is re-scheduled for a later date. This practice is against the Standard Code of Rules (Rule 23b).

 

All games where a referee is not appointed by Paul Murphy must be played as per the above rule, with the clubs agreeing on a referee, said referee shall be covered by the Club' insurance, and shall, for that Competition Match, have the full powers, status and authority of a registered referee. No games should be postponed because a referee is not appointed. It is simply not possible with the current situation for this rule not to be enforced.

 

Should teams fail to mutually agree a referee then both teams should be charged with failing to fulfil a fixture with the game being declared void and not re-arranged. Should a team put forward a referee and this is not accepted by the opposition, the team refusing to play should be charged for failing to fulfil a fixture and the game should be awarded to the opposition.

 

We expect all leagues to enforce these rules, failure to do so may result in action being taken against that league under FA Rule E1 (b) Failed to comply with the Rules and Regulations of The Football Association.

 

Some important additional points to note

           With this new guidance and games not being postponed due to no referee being appointed, if a referee does become available at short notice they can now be appointed.

           If for any reason a referee withdraws from a game Paul will not re-appoint from a fixture taking place in a lower division, the teams in that game will be required to mutually agree a referee.

           Paul will endeavour to ensure that all leagues are equally dealt with and it will not always be the same leagues/teams not having a referee appointed. The South West Peninsula League and St Piran League, as members of the National League System, will retain priority though.

           Should a game be postponed by a league due to no referee being appointed, when the game is re-scheduled a referee will not be appointed.

           These changes will not affect games which have already been postponed due to no referee being appointed.

 

If you have any questions in relation to this please contact Cornwall FA Governance Manager Richard Pallot 01208 262983 richard.pallot@cornwallfa.com  

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Speaking as a league official but not on behalf of the league, I feel particularly annoyed that this decision has been taken  - part way through the season -  with virtually immediate effect – and apparently with the backing of all the League Representatives on the Cornwall FA.

 On a wider point, I have always thought it absurd that the very organisation that should be promoting the game found it ok in the first place to come up with a rule that stops teams actually playing the game and ruins the competitive league structure – something that they wouldn’t dream of doing at a higher level.  We all know that it is only the likes of the Trelawny & Duchy Leagues that will really be affected and the FA couldn’t care less about us providing we register lots of players. The FA certainly didn’t worry about the knock on effect of creating a new league in the county.

I am very grateful to Richard Pallot and all at Cornwall FA who for several seasons now have taken a common sense approach to the application of this mandatory rule. The County allowed the Duchy League to amend Rule 23B slightly with the inclusion of the words ‘shall endeavour’ – to agree upon a referee.   I am sure this was done in the knowledge that between the League and Paul Murphy the games would get covered eventually without too much bother and this has indeed been the case.

This rule amendment remains in place but I am fully aware that in the FA’s eyes it would be considered invalid if challenged.

Having looked at Fulltime on Friday evening it is clear that the major problem is in the west of the county, about half of the Trelawny League matches had no appointed official compared to just three games in the Duchy.  I fully understand that Cornwall FA could not possibly insist that just the Trelawny League enforce this rule.

I just do not see why this had to be done at such short notice. Surely it would have been more acceptable to have selected a future date, say January 1st, to give the leagues chance to rethink fixtures, cups whatever.

I do also worry what affect this will have on the full time role of the appointments officer and of course the financial implications for clubs who I’m sure will not be keen to be paying for a full season’s appointments if they are not getting them. This is certainly not Paul Murphy’s fault, he is not charged with recruiting referees just appointing those he has available which he has done very well for the Duchy League.

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Looking at the situation in Trelawny, I don’t think Cornwall FA had any choice but to issue the directive that they have. It is, and always has been a mandatory rule in SCOR, although it is worded in a way that be interpreted one of two ways.

I think Cornwall FA have had to act now and the reason why is simple. Including today, almost 70 games would have been officiated in the Trelawny League by a volunteer referee already - we aren’t even out of September yet. There is just no way that these games could be replayed through the season. If we continued to allow our own versions of the rule to stay in place - including the cancellation of games due to poor weather which will certainly affect us, hundreds of games will need rescheduling. The league simply doesn’t have enough dates to fixture these Game sin which of course, become ordered games in April and May. Some teams would be playing every other day throughout the period of light evenings come next year just to try and squeeze the games in.

 

I hate the rule. I have made no secret about that but I also understand why the stance that has been taken, has been taken. Already we have received complaints from teams in our League, annoyed because the Duchy League and other leagues have been postponing games due to no appointed official, when we have been telling them that the league must get the games played. You can see why they would be annoyed. There has to be uniformity.

I am putting a change in to the FA to include the words “at League discretion” in this ruling for next season. At least then if leagues have the ability to postpone fixtures and have them replayed at a later date, they can. But even with those words included, I don’t think even the Trelawny League would have used discretion this season judging by the number of referees we’ve lost. 

Ive stopped playing again for a bit now to try and help this crisis, I’m just hoping that more people, particularly in the West try and do their bit.

I’ve already decided that if I get any grief or (any forms of) a lack of respect when I step on a field to officiate, I will not officiate the teams responsible again. I will also consider just walking off the field mid game if it starts me off to much, as much as that is frowned upon by my colleagues across the County. Until Referees stop being abused, disrespected and in some cases, harassed, this situation will not change. We have a problem and we all need to work together to fix it!

 

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The situation in the east is no where near as bad and so our clubs wont think it fair that they suffer just to provide 'uniformity' .

As i stated, i understand that the ruling must apply to all leagues but our suffering is not going to help yours.

I don't think there is a chance in hell that the FA will accept 'at League discretion' - i hope i am wrong.

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Out of interest, does the ‘ordered’ period ensure games are played in any other circumstances? 

I always knew it meant you HAD to find a volunteer during this period but; if the SCOR state that you MUST find a volunteer throughout the whole season then the ordered period seems to be an odd inclusion. It basically doubles up on an existing rule. Unless of course it covers more than just a no referee situation.

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I don’t see what this will do to benefit the county? Surly just playing games for the sake of playing them, teams are not getting treated fairly at all by the governing body here but are instead told to just rollover and get on with it or else! 

Could clubs just get someone qualified (or not even) and just use them every week and not pay any upfront fee to the county? Said referee doesn’t even have to charge the club or teams and would save the club hundreds of pounds a season?! 

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With no disrespect to anyone, I think most players would prefer to have a game of football than go shopping because there's no official referee available. The FA regard every League below Step 7 as "Recreational" and I believe they regard this as an area where the enjoyment of playing out-weighs the necessity of always having an appointed referee! 

The general consensus from those who have played in games without a qualified referee seems to be that there have been few problems with the refs or the players!

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15 minutes ago, John Mead said:

With no disrespect to anyone, I think most players would prefer to have a game of football than go shopping because there's no official referee available. The FA regard every League below Step 7 as "Recreational" and I believe they regard this as an area where the enjoyment of playing out-weighs the necessity of always having an appointed referee! 

The general consensus from those who have played in games without a qualified referee seems to be that there have been few problems with the refs or the players!

No issues? 

I think @Billy Davies and @B16NAF will disagree...

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32 minutes ago, John Mead said:

With no disrespect to anyone, I think most players would prefer to have a game of football than go shopping because there's no official referee available. The FA regard every League below Step 7 as "Recreational" and I believe they regard this as an area where the enjoyment of playing out-weighs the necessity of always having an appointed referee! 

The general consensus from those who have played in games without a qualified referee seems to be that there have been few problems with the refs or the players!

Can we please stop saying that players would rather play than go ‘shopping’

Theres a shed load of other things that people do now

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39 minutes ago, Titus Bramble said:

No issues? 

I think @Billy Davies and @B16NAF will disagree...

"Few problems" is not the same as "No issues"!

From what I read on here, there are a few problems every week - even when appointed refs are in charge.

20 minutes ago, St Darren said:

Can we please stop saying that players would rather play than go ‘shopping’

There's a shed load of other things that people do now

Just used it as an example; I realise there's more to life than football and shopping!

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I’m quite happy for a game to go ahead with a volunteer ref, provided it’s safe - and on that note I’m curious, with the winter weather approaching, about who rules if a pitch is playable when no official referee is available to make the call? (Apologies if I should already know the answer to this!). What if one side’s volunteer ref say it’s not playable but the opposition offer a volunteer referee who says it is? 

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Clubs should get a local currently registered referee in to inspect pitch and make a decision on state of ground .

It does not have to be your appointed match referee ( if you have one ) who may live a long way from ground .

 

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11 minutes ago, zebedee said:

Clubs should get a local currently registered referee in to inspect pitch and make a decision on state of ground .

It does not have to be your appointed match referee ( if you have one ) who may live a long way from ground .

 

‘Should’, ‘could’ or ‘must’?

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10 minutes ago, zebedee said:

Must 

Ok, so the only refs who can cancel a game on safety grounds are qualified refs. If you can’t find one, or none can get to the ground to inspect, the game must go ahead regardless of safety. Please note I’m being devils advocate here, not trying to be clever or critical! But it does seem like an accident/argument waiting to happen, the idea of unqualified refs refereeing in potentially dangerous conditions to avoid their team being accused of being unwilling to fulfill a fixture.

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I made a comment to the CCFA a few weeks ago that maybe they need to think about some workshops that up to two club representatives attend in which some guidance is given on LOAF and how to officiate where to position themselves nothing over detailed but at least something! Those club representatives are then the ones called on to officiate rather then ‘billy’ the 18 year old who runs the line each week and gets on with about 10 minutes to go when his side are 8 nil up......billy is obviously my imaginary friend but you get the drift 😉

this problem isn’t going to go away unfortunately and whilst Paul Murphy works miracles turning water into wine he’s going to run out of even water soon so this is going to become a more regular issue that the leagues and County might need to figure out how to address

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42 minutes ago, zebedee said:

Clubs must get this done in morning if there is any doubt with pitch to save away team travelling ....not a 30 mins before kick off .

A bit of common sense required here guys .

Definitely agree with all that - but will be interesting to see if it actually happens when winter rolls around  and if clubs trust each other over the process if no official ref is available for the inspection. I just thought that if refs continue to be as rare as they are at the moment there will be no guarantee that they will be available for official pitch inspections for games they are not involved with.

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2 hours ago, Mr M said:

I’m quite happy for a game to go ahead with a volunteer ref, provided it’s safe - and on that note I’m curious, with the winter weather approaching, about who rules if a pitch is playable when no official referee is available to make the call? (Apologies if I should already know the answer to this!). What if one side’s volunteer ref say it’s not playable but the opposition offer a volunteer referee who says it is? 

and what about abandoning games when the weather comes in like today? Where do clubs stand with insurance when no officials are present?

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Not sure what the answer is but this directive may mean that leagues are decided by which Club is prepared to cheat most. If both teams have a bare eleven must they grab the nearest granny and sit her on the centre circle?

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56 minutes ago, Pitty said:

I made a comment to the CCFA a few weeks ago that maybe they need to think about some workshops that up to two club representatives attend in which some guidance is given on LOAF and how to officiate where to position themselves nothing over detailed but at least something! Those club representatives are then the ones called on to officiate rather then ‘billy’ the 18 year old who runs the line each week and gets on with about 10 minutes to go when his side are 8 nil up......billy is obviously my imaginary friend but you get the drift 😉

 

Hopefully this will be organised soon.

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I see the logic in the directive,but it hinges on a club having a representative available and able to officiate. Some club struggle for volunteers to help out with general club duties let alone adding officiating, albeit on an emergency basis to the list.

Also alot of volunteers are shall we say extremely loyal.to their clubs but their best days are behind them and unable physically to officiate.

I reffed a friendly between Godolphin and Mousehole a couple of seasons ago, both benches were loaded and plenty of club officials about, but I was the only one willing to do it and I was only there to watch.

I'm not sure what the solution is, but agree with the above health and safety issues, there seems to be some grey areas, and not sure what would happen if a game went ahead in dangerous (legally subjective) conditions and a player got seriously injured.

We are all responsible for the problem players (I was no angel) managers(also no angel) and refs (I've seen plenty of inconsistent and obnoxious ones).

Maybe the FA need to look at what incentives there are to becoming a ref, as I'm not sure there are any at the moment apart from for the love of the game.

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Being a qualified ref who runs the line most weeks what about this scenario. We went to mullion yesterday in the st. Pirans league both teams agreed to play with mullions secretary. If I had agreed to referee would we have been fined because we did not have a qualified assistant ? By the way we had a ref. Assigned thanks to great work by Paul murphy

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43 minutes ago, Postman Pat said:

Being a qualified ref who runs the line most weeks what about this scenario. We went to mullion yesterday in the st. Pirans league both teams agreed to play with mullions secretary. If I had agreed to referee would we have been fined because we did not have a qualified assistant ? By the way we had a ref. Assigned thanks to great work by Paul murphy

Funny old world...you couldn't make that up...lmfao🤣

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2 hours ago, Postman Pat said:

Being a qualified ref who runs the line most weeks what about this scenario. We went to mullion yesterday in the st. Pirans league both teams agreed to play with mullions secretary. If I had agreed to referee would we have been fined because we did not have a qualified assistant ? By the way we had a ref. Assigned thanks to great work by Paul murphy

Surely that would be down to the league using a bit of common sense?

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3 hours ago, Postman Pat said:

Being a qualified ref who runs the line most weeks what about this scenario. We went to mullion yesterday in the st. Pirans league both teams agreed to play with mullions secretary. If I had agreed to referee would we have been fined because we did not have a qualified assistant ? By the way we had a ref. Assigned thanks to great work by Paul murphy

1 hour ago, Dave Bartlam said:

Surely that would be down to the league using a bit of common sense?

1 hour ago, Dave Deacon said:

Exactly! What would the league decide in this situation Steve Carpenter?

Whilst not solely my decision I personally would not even be thinking about a fine under these circumstances.  A charge would have to be raised but with the mitigating circumstances I'm as sure as I can be that the fine would be waived.

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If linemen are usually subs/players from both sides qualified refs often use their experience to help with big decisions. If there is no qualified official at the match, then the levels of frustation from players could conceivably rise when things are missed etc. This could then, in the long term, lead to less refs in future due to the level of abuse borne of that frustration. Not ideal, but as this is one of the reasons cited as why less people are inclined to get qualified, it seems a rather short sighted solution.

Also, if every club was able to provide a referee into the pool (as I believe they were meant to a while ago) there should be a surplus . As a club who got a committee member qualified as a ref, I propose clubs who have done similar be afforded preference when referees are allocated. I think this could act as an incentive for clubs who haven't already, to actively help with the problem of too few refs. Just a thought. I may be missing something ofcourse. . 

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23 hours ago, Pitty said:

I made a comment to the CCFA a few weeks ago that maybe they need to think about some workshops that up to two club representatives attend in which some guidance is given on LOAF and how to officiate where to position themselves nothing over detailed but at least something! Those club representatives are then the ones called on to officiate rather then ‘billy’ the 18 year old who runs the line each week and gets on with about 10 minutes to go when his side are 8 nil up......billy is obviously my imaginary friend but you get the drift 😉

this problem isn’t going to go away unfortunately and whilst Paul Murphy works miracles turning water into wine he’s going to run out of even water soon so this is going to become a more regular issue that the leagues and County might need to figure out how to address

I agree Pitty, I have  on a Saturday  morning  inspected  3 local pitches, in my own time and at no cost to the clubs, to ensure  that  the league requirements  are met  before calling  a game off. I would  not like to be a "volunteer" referee  having to make the  decision at the last minute.  Also why should a clubs insurance  have to cover someone  who is doing a favour?  Lunatics  and Asylum  springs to mind.

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At West this season we have offered a ref in two fixtures (Dan inch) and accepted a ref from another club (gwinear) both did great jobs. Dan has also reffed and helped a couple of other teams out this season too. refs stepping in are fine providing they are consistent we have been fortunate to experience this. Agree with consensus that when clubs are fortunate enough to not be rained off, actually have a side, have marked the pitch etc... they want to play. Other refs we have had this season, adam batchelor was brilliant, dean kitley was brilliant, and Tony Reynolds who missed one big decision for me but love the fact he sin binned two of our players for how they spoke to him on the whole a good ref. 

You can’t tackle everything at once.  And there are lots of issues in football. Trelawny were always going to feels it a little bit with an extra senior league forming that takes preference. Referees can be expensive and with that comes an expectation. NO REF deserves to be shouted at, sworn at and in the heat of the moment despite being a good guy I’ve done it when disagreeing. Always shake the refs hand after and offer them to come back after the game. 

The refs do have protection in terms of the use of there cards and the bins that were introduced. In my eyes 3 things could help this. 

 

1) I talk with clubs regarding conduct again 

2) a refresher with refs around there use of sin bins and cars ... the comment of not reporting a ref cos they can’t be bothered works both ways with refs and cards 👀

3) including on the referees course training or awareness around self resilience. I’m sure this is included at top level. 

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9 hours ago, paulo bestiniho said:

At West this season we have offered a ref in two fixtures (Dan inch) and accepted a ref from another club (gwinear) both did great jobs. Dan has also reffed and helped a couple of other teams out this season too. refs stepping in are fine providing they are consistent we have been fortunate to experience this. Agree with consensus that when clubs are fortunate enough to not be rained off, actually have a side, have marked the pitch etc... they want to play. Other refs we have had this season, adam batchelor was brilliant, dean kitley was brilliant, and Tony Reynolds who missed one big decision for me but love the fact he sin binned two of our players for how they spoke to him on the whole a good ref. 

You can’t tackle everything at once.  And there are lots of issues in football. Trelawny were always going to feels it a little bit with an extra senior league forming that takes preference. Referees can be expensive and with that comes an expectation. NO REF deserves to be shouted at, sworn at and in the heat of the moment despite being a good guy I’ve done it when disagreeing. Always shake the refs hand after and offer them to come back after the game. 

The refs do have protection in terms of the use of there cards and the bins that were introduced. In my eyes 3 things could help this. 

 

1) I talk with clubs regarding conduct again 

2) a refresher with refs around there use of sin bins and cars ... the comment of not reporting a ref cos they can’t be bothered works both ways with refs and cards 👀

3) including on the referees course training or awareness around self resilience. I’m sure this is included at top level. 

Self-resilience is included, but this is something that develops over time!

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Surely if a side gets a reputation for being disrespectful or aggressive to referees then they should go to the bottom of the list when short of officials. Went to Ernie Mills funeral today and we were told when he was manager, he stood in front of the team before the game and told the players don’t argue with the ref. or I will take you off. 

 

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I’d be able to ref two games if spaced accordingly. Perhaps clubs should put forward there availability for an early kick off if they’re desperate for a qualified ref. 

Clearly this would be more difficult as cup games will be played this weekend but if clubs want a proper official then kick off times need to be negotiable. 

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On 28/09/2019 at 17:51, le boss said:

and what about abandoning games when the weather comes in like today? Where do clubs stand with insurance when no officials are present?

I think there are a number of insurance issues here. Need to be careful.

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11 minutes ago, Keith B said:

I think there are a number of insurance issues here. Need to be careful.

“All games where a referee is not appointed by Paul Murphy must be played as per the above rule, with the clubs agreeing on a referee, said referee shall be covered by the Club' insurance, and shall, for that Competition Match, have the full powers, status and authority of a registered referee.”

Hopefully the County FA’s phone has been red hot since this came out!

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All Duchy League Clubs should by now have been notified of a Special General Meeting to be held at St Dennis FC on Wednesday October 9th 7.30pm.

The League Management Committee met on Monday evening to consider the implications of the County FA’s directive and to find a practical way forward. The Committee decided that it was too big an issue to deal with without all the clubs being involved – hence the need for an urgent SGM.

As of Monday Sept 30th the League had postponed just three (3) games this season due to the unavailability of referees, although a number of matches had been played with local stand-in officials. This level of postponement would have been perfectly easy to cope with later in the season but nevertheless the County FA insist that the FA Rule WILL be enforced this weekend.

The Committee does not want to have ANY void fixtures or ‘games awarded’ but this will be the case this weekend if the clubs without appointed referees cannot agree upon (or simply cannot get) a local stand-in.  For once I am rather glad that there has been a lot of rain and some grounds may be too wet to play on. Stand-in officials do, of course, have full power to decide whether a pitch is playable or not.

It may sound dramatic but the future of the League could be under threat and it is imperative that the clubs attend the SGM and make their opinions heard. I must stress that the League is NOT responsible for this situation – it is the Cornwall FA enforcing an FA Rule.

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I very deliberately wasn't going to get involved in this discussion but temptation has got the better of me.  A few plain facts.

1.  This is not a new rule.  It has been in place since at least 2002.

2.  It's a mandatory rule.

3.  It has been applied as it is now being in Cornwall across the country where there are referee shortages (i.e. the great majority of areas) for a long time.  Few areas have sufficient referees.

4.  Cornwall FA have allowed leagues to make postponements due to the lack of a referee as the situation was manageable.

5.  Referees have been lost a greater rate than clubs over recent years.

6.  Of the referees registered 3 years ago over 100 are no longer registered and the back-fill rate has been very small despite the best efforts of the leagues and the CCFA. 

7.  It has become clear over the last few weeks that referee numbers this season mean that the situation would no longer be manageable.  Already one league has had @50 games covered by stand in referees and that's 'till the end of September.  Simple sums gives an idea of the scale of the problem if those games had been put off until a referee was available.  And that's before you add in weather postponements.

8.  Cornwall is now having to deal with the harsh reality that great swathes of the country have had to deal with for a long old time.  We may not like it but the problem is here and real.  Grumbling and moaning isn't going to change it but getting inventive, imaginative and positive just may find a way to improve matters.  We have to try.

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On 01/10/2019 at 22:23, TheolderIgetthebetterIwas said:

Nothing below the premiership means anything anymore! 

I'd hate to think you're right older but - I think you may be.

10 hours ago, Columbia said:

But if paid referees won’t  do it how will unpaid volunteers resolve the issue into the medium and long term? Punishing the clubs will not resolve this. Maybe the FA should put more of their billions into grassroots football ️ 

Best suggestion yet !

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Just asking to clarify for info before Duchy SGM next week is it just SWPL that has appointed Assistant Referees (Lino’s) or do all St Pirans games have to have them as well as a Step 7 league? Not seen any St Pirans matches yet so don’t know the answer.... Thanks for any replies! 

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