JORDAN: You can't blame managers and players for a headbutt on Sunday

SIMON JORDAN: You can’t blame football’s mafia of managers and players for every headbutt on a Sunday morning

  • Referees in amateur football are carrying out a service to our national sport
  • Creating a better environment at the top can help flow through to grassroots 
  • IAN LADYMAN: I want to take the audio of this stricken referee into every Premier league training ground this week – Listen to the horrible story on IAKO 

There is no doubt that what goes on at the top of the professional game filters down to grassroots levels.

But I’m not sure I see the link between Premier League managers behaving poorly on the touchline and some of the shocking incidents that occur in amateur football.

I listened to Chris Sutton and Ian Ladyman’s latest It’s All Kicking Off podcast and the harrowing accounts of referees being physically attacked and threatened. Jim White and I have heard similar stories on our talkSport show and it’s clearly a serious problem that needs addressing. The question is: how?

Referees in the amateur game are carrying out a public service in our national sport and there undoubtedly should be more value attached to the job they do.

We have a long-standing culture in this country of belittling referees and making them public enemy No 1 when we feel wronged by their decisions.

Managers like Mikel Arteta need to behave better and face accountability for their actions

Recent actions of managers, including Mauricio Pochettino, have set a standard in the game

Mail Sport’s Simon Jordan believes refereeing isn’t currently valued or given its due kudos

Mail Sport has launched a campaign to stop the abuse of referees at all levels of the game

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That leads to an unhealthy cocktail and you end up with a serious lack of appreciation for people who are integral to our national game. The overall conduct of football people — managers and players — needs to improve, no question. They need to be more respectful of authority and acknowledge that authority. That means managers behaving better and facing greater accountability for their behaviour.

Whether we like it or not, people will imitate how managers behave in the same way young players who watch footballers spit, swear and get covered in tattoos will follow their lead.

Of course managers should behave themselves, not just because grassroots imitates what happens at the top, but because it sets the standard and code for how players behave in the professional game.

If managers aren’t disrespectful and aren’t shouting and screaming at referees, behaving in the way certain members of that fraternity have in recent times — I’m looking at you Mikel Arteta and Mauricio Pochettino — then it would contribute to a better impact at grassroots level. But is that touchline behaviour the reason why grassroots football has a discipline issue? Is that why referees are getting headbutted? I’m not so sure. That’s been going on for a long time and I don’t think it’s fair to lay the blame for it on recent incidents.

Managers’ behaviour does not explain why players on a Sunday morning are walking up to referees and punching them in the face. The big problem is that the refereeing profession isn’t valued, respected or given its due kudos. The only people in the game who are really valued are players, managers and owners.

If you create a culture where officials are respected and their authority is recognised — as Howard Webb is trying to achieve — we will be in a better place. As I have alluded to before, there appears to be a resistance to it from the football mafia — players, managers — who don’t like control being seized from them and don’t like being put back in their box.

If we create an environment for referees to thrive at the top of the game, it’s obvious that there will be a better flow through at the bottom and it’s the FA’s responsibility to introduce more support and structure for them into grassroots football.

As things stand, referees are not considered by those in the game to be anything other than a necessary evil for a perceived greater good. When they do show a bit more authority, we get trite comments from people like Pep Guardiola calling for referees to be more humble. What, like you lot are, Pep?

Referee’s chief Howard Webb is attempting to build a culture where officials are respected

Man City boss Pep Guardiola previously suggested referees needed to be more humble

We have a problem with respect in society in general and it manifests itself in football with the excuse that it’s an emotional game. People express their views in this country by climbing over statues and doing precisely what they want.

There’s a sense of entitlement that we can behave however we wish. Some of that is to do with social media and how it empowers people to say what they think but, then they get out in the real world and say it, which has consequences.

The police seemingly let people get away with things because it is convenient for them to do so. All of these things add up to a problem in society. We live in an angry society — but none of this should relate to abusing referees on a Sunday morning, it’s just appalling behaviour.

Managers could undoubtedly behave better — they are off the clock with some of their behaviour — and understand that referees are an asset. But Arteta jumping up and down like a demented jack-in-the-box and Jurgen Klopp getting aerated on the touchline is simply no excuse for poor behaviour lower down the pyramid.

Do we think if we get a reset from managers about their obligations and the consequences of their behaviour that it will help to some extent in creating a better culture for referees over a period of time? Maybe.

Do we suddenly make managers all sweetness and light every time they come near a referee? Does that subsequently mean there will be more respect in the grassroots game? I’m not so sure.

The FA must put bodycams on referees at grassroots and ban offenders from playing the game


We want to hear from refs who have been abused – or parents who have witnessed atrocious behaviour on the touchline

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We are miles away from what it was like 20 years ago. Remember Roy Keane charging at referees when a decision went against Manchester United? Players’ behaviour is far more influential and has a far greater impact than that of managers. A manager jumping up and down in the dugout or wagging his finger at a referee simply isn’t as big an influence as players’ behaviour and their lack of respect towards officials.

So what can the FA do? A start would be to place proper value on our referees. If every component part of football ups its game, we might end up with grassroots referees being happier with their lot. Put bodycams on all of them and ban people from playing and ensure more prosecutions to try and arrest this problem.

Good examples start at the top with people having a modicum of professional respect for referees. If they do, there is a possibility there will be marginal improvements, marginal gains, but it’s not a silver bullet because society’s behaviour is the problem, not simply football.

If we set the highest standards at the top and the message from the FA is there will be consequences for treating officials badly, it will have an effect further down the pyramid.

But will it eradicate it all, will it be a panacea? I’m sorry, I don’t think so.

Be brave, Gareth, flick the switch at the right time 

This England team have the potential to be the best we’ve seen since 1966 — but they’re not yet.

Performances in Euro 2024 qualifying have been commendable but the only thing that matters is tournaments.

The personality of our manager against the quality of our players is the eternal balancing act. All the ingredients are there for a successful side. We’ve got so much offensive quality — Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden as well as dynamism in midfield with Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice. This should be the makings of a world-beating side and anything other than a win at this summer’s Euros should be viewed as a disappointment.

The only reason we won’t win the Euros is if, when the moment comes in the big games, Gareth Southgate (right) doesn’t flick the switch at the right time.

We should take it to whoever the opposition is in every game. For 40 minutes against France at the World Cup, we looked like we could beat any team in the world and that must be the mantra. It will only go wrong if we’re not brave enough — but if we are, this team has everything you’d want and they could just do it.

England have the talent to succeed at the Euros but Gareth Southgate’s must avoid caution

Absurd for clubs to block a ban on ‘related-party loans’ 

What a nonsense it was this week when eight Premier League clubs — Chelsea, Manchester City, Everton, Newcastle, Nottingham Forest, Sheffield United, Wolves and Burnley — voted against a temporary ban on loan deals between teams with the same owners.

It highlights the ridiculousness of the vested interests now controlling our game. If you start using multi-club ownership to get around Financial Fair Play, then we’re heading for a world of pain.

The Premier League are trying to clean up the house with sanctions handed down to teams like Everton and then something like this gets voted through by the clubs. It’s absurd.

The vote means Newcastle will be allowed to loan stars from the Saudi Pro League despite Newcastle’s owners also owning four SPL clubs – Al-Hilal, Al-Ahli, Al-Nassr and Al-Ittihad


It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football.

It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube, Apple Music and Spotify.

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