One bad headline could set refereeing recruitment back years.
That’s the view of the Peterborough Referees Association chairman Robert Windle, a man who has overseen the qualification and development of over 400 referees in the last two decades.
But the weekend incident which saw experienced referee Phil Hayes reportedly struck by a Pinchbeck United reserve team player in a Peterborough League Division Two match will probably see that number drop.
“Headlines of this nature are not good for local football,” Windle stated. “It will set the recruiting of, and retaining of, referees all the much harder. It could set us back years.
“We have the best referee development scheme for young referees in the country and although this incident was in an adult match, and with an adult referee in charge, prospective new referees may see this and change their mind about taking up the whistle.
“There are hundreds of matches each weekend in the Peterborough and District area in adult and junior football and thousands over a season, and headlines like this are created very rarely.
“We have had some fantastic successes on the referee front over the last six years and hopefully this blip will not overshadow all the good work that has been done, or our achievements.
“There are some great teams with good players and good managers, but unfortunately a small minority fail to respect other players and the match officials.
“It’s terrible for a very well respected referee like Phil to suffer like he did at the weekend and it’s awful that a well-run club like Pinchbeck suffers bad publicity from the actions of a single individual.
“We need to all work together to eradicate the bad apples. Refereeing is a very fulfilling experience and I urge people of all ages to take the course, pass the exam and become involved in local football.”
Windle’s next referee’s course is scheduled for Ferbruary. Details of all his courses are available at www.Northamptonshirefa.com.
Pinchbeck expressed their disgust at the alleged assault on Hayes within hours of the incident. They immediately pulled their reserve team out of the Peterborough League.
The incident is being investigated by local FAs and the police.