Earlier this season I asked Northants County Football Association to explain their decision to suspend a prominent local football manager for several matches.
The reply, when it eventually came, was a denial of my request because, and I quote. ‘Due to GDPR we are unable to disclose this information.’
At this paper we used to get sent full details by the county FAs of every punishment dished out in local football. We’d publish them all because, let’s face it, everyone is interested in who gets in trouble and in any case naming and shaming should be a deterrent to future bad behaviour.
Sadly this opinion is no longer shared by those who run football at a local level, but if they think they are protecting football’s image by hiding the incidents of bad behaviour they actually punish they are grossly mistaken.
Using data protection laws to conceal information is a bogus excuse anyway. The English FA themselves publish details of their juiciest hearings as in the recent case involving sacked Posh bad boy Josh Yorwerth.
Do you think we will ever find out what was said and by whom in last Sunday morning’s latest case of appalling behaviour at an under 11 game? Of course we won’t.
Yes, and you did read that right, a match involving 10 and 11 year-olds was halted early because a moody player who, after committing a cautionable offence, refused to give his name to the 16 year-old referee who then sent him off, which in turn sparked a mini-pitch invasion, apparently by four Deeping United FC coaches, causing a visibly upset official to walk from the pitch.
That’s one of the most depressing sentences I’ve written in this column and yet I’m not surprised it happened. It wouldn’t have surprised anyone who regularly spends part of their weekends attending junior/youth football when the enjoyment of the majority is often ruined by the behaviour of a minority.
I have no doubt that players and coaches are influenced by what they see in professional football.
And referees are the easiest and most obvious targets of those looking for an excuse for a poor performance and a poor result.
Every week I get an e-mail from the Peterborough & District Youth League seeking referees as there is a shortage. I wonder why?
Virtually every junior/youth club I’ve visited this season have behaved impeccably, but one horrible incident is one too many so I would agree with many readers who suggest....
1) Name and shame everyone proven to have misbehaved. I’d start with the moody 11 year-old and his coaches.
2) Making abuse from parents a reportable offence and start hitting clubs in the pocket. They would then have an incentive to halt the abuse.
3) Introduce silent touchlines at the youngest age groups with coaches only permitted to speak positively. Surely at 11 years old enjoyment should come above winning medals and cups?
Let me know any other introductions you would make to improve behaviour on and off the pitch, either by leaving a message at the bottom of this column or by e-mail to email@example.com, or to @PTAlanSwann on Twitter.
I’m not confident much will change though, including the behaviour of obssessed adults.