The Peterborough & District Football League have reacted to the abandoment of a Division Two game on Saturday (December 10) by issuing a strongly-worded letter to member clubs.
The match between Tydd St Mary and Pinchbeck United Reserves was abandoned at half-time after a Pinchbeck player reportedly struck the match referee.
The incident is now the subject of a police investigation.
The Peterborough League has suffered from a referee shortage this season.
Chairman Clive Wilson has now penned the following letter.
It reads: ‘Dear All,
As you are all aware, this season has seen particularly low coverage of officials on games across the Peterborough & District Football League, due to various reasons. This letter is to highlight what we are trying to do to battle this situation, and to point out some ways that clubs can help us in this dealing with this issue.
We at the league, are currently in the process of meeting with all the Referee Development Officers at each of the County FAs that the PDFL covers, to try and work out a way to get more people involved in refereeing, and to combat the issues that are currently being faced, by trying to promote the league in a positive, safe environment in which younger referees can learn their trade and progress higher. However, in order for us to do this, we need clubs to realise that some things just don’t help the situation regarding match officials.
This season alone, we have lost several officials for various reasons, but some, more worryingly, have commented that they are leaving the game, due to abuse they are regularly receiving. This includes a young 18 year-old referee, who, previously enjoyed his officiating, but this season has found the levels of abuse too much and has decided that he no longer wants to be involved in the game.
There has also this weekend, been an alleged assault on a match official at a Peterborough & District League game, which the league are appalled to hear about and is currently being dealt with by the respective County FA.
Events like these do not in the slightest help with the retention and recruitment of referees in the local area. People will read and hear about events that have happened locally and may change their mind about refereeing senior football on a Saturday afternoon.
This weekend, we had nine games that weren’t covered by a qualified match official, due to various reasons, which is the lowest in a while. As a league, whilst actively working with County FAs to increase the participation of officials, we are attempting to recruit officials by currently offering a 50% bursary to help towards to costs of a referee course for members who wish to start officiating on the Peterborough Youth League, Peterborough & District league and The United Counties League. We will also be actively promoting courses in the New Year in the local areas. If you wish to find out more about the bursary, or would like to declare your interest in attending a referee course, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can we remind all clubs that the referee is only human and could be your father, brother, cousin, sister, mother, aunt or uncle, and to someone actually is. Referees do not go out on a weekly basis to be abused and insulted for 90 minutes. Believe it or not, referees feel the effects of what goes on during games and it can affect them in the long term, more than people realise. Would you accept going to work each day and being shouted at, abused and insulted?
Please can you circulate this to all of the players in your teams, to ensure that they can understand why we are short of officials this year, and maybe highlight to them there are courses running if they are interested in becoming a match official.
If you have any questions or comments about what has been mentioned, please do get in touch with us.
Peterborough & District Football League.