01 August 2017

FA chiefs warn Premier League clubs to stop using their match officials as ‘punching bags’ or face punishment

FA CHIEFS have launched a crackdown on Premier League bosses screaming into the face of fourth officials.

They claim there has been a rise over the past year in managers taking out their frustrations by using assistant referees as “human punchbags”.

Arsene Wenger was in trouble after an altercation with Anthony Taylor last season
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Arsene Wenger has been known for his run-ins with match officials
Not known clear with picture desk

Arsene Wenger served a four-match ban for shoving touchline official Anthony Taylor during Arsenal’s streaky win over Burnley last season.

Now FA chiefs have told top level bosses to keep their traps shut and let the officials get on with the job of holding up the digital board indicating substitutions or time added on.

They have also set up a committee to discuss setting a minimum distance between technical areas to stop warring bosses confronting each other.

Some stadiums like the powder-keg set-up at Stamford Bridge are a breeding ground for trading insults between technical areas.

FA chiefs are trying to find a way to diffuse tension between rival staff.

They have also beefed up their drug testing procedure ahead of the new season.

Arsene Wenger was sent to the stands after his outburst during Arsenal’s clash with Burnley
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Their new campaign, backed by millions of pounds in FA investment, means every Premier League player can expect to be tested at some stage of the season.

The number of tests will increase from 3,000 last season to 5,000 as part of their new wide-ranging measures.

Although the FA do not believe performance-enhancing drugs are a huge problem in top-level English football, they have one of the most sophisticated systems in the world.

Most of their drug tests are targeted at Premier League players, with a specific brief to focus on individuals showing abnormal blood or urine results.

Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte have to be separated by the fourth official at Stamford Bridge
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There were only four cases of performance-enhancing drugs last season, but the FA are determined to uphold the highest standards of sporting integrity.

That will also extend to on-field matters as they prepare for retrospective punishment for divers to be introduced this weekend.

Although the charge sheet will say “successful deception of a match official”, the new rule is aimed purely at the sport’s cheats.

The FA will only charge players if they believe there is clear and overwhelming evidence a player conned a referee to obtain an advantage.

The distance between technical areas at Stamford Bridge has been singled out as a problem
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A three-man panel, comprising an ex-player, manager and referee, will be asked independently for their verdict before the FA decide on a charge.

It must be unanimous and will result in an automatic two-match ban unless the player makes representations.

The system has already been trialled successfully in Scotland, with most players now accepting the punishment of a ban if they are charged.

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