Date: 20th July 2016 at 4:45pm
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Well it has been a summer of change for the Premier League and English Football League.

With discussions about substitute numbers, changes to the rulebook already enacted in the quest for greater consistency from the men in charge of 90 minutes and even changes to the Football League Trophy and the introduction of Under 21 Development Teams.

Well the changes haven’t ended there as today plans to reduce ‘intolerable behaviour’ by players and managers towards the match day officials have been announced.

In a joint statement by the authorities, the Premier League, Football League and Football Association said that poor conduct on the field of play has reached ‘unacceptable levels’ and starting from this season onwards, red cards will be shown to players who ‘confront’ match officials to use offensive language or gestures towards them.

Citing the fact that no player in the Premier League over the last five years had been sent off for dissent…well isn’t that down to the referees to draw the line?

You see it week in and week out, some players seemingly get away with murder to the referees – chasing them, harassing them and so on – and nothing happens, then some poor bugger wins the ball in a fair tackle and looks at them wrong and it’s a yellow card.

These new rules are only going to be useful and have the desired effect IF the referees actually use the power they have, and don’t differentiate between players and teams when making those decisions.

Premier League Chairman Richard Scudamore put on his stating the obvious hat and explained that there had been concern ‘for some time’ that some players were regularly ‘overstepping the mark’ and somebody somewhere has now had a lightbulb moment.

‘It is our collective position that these types of behaviour should no longer be tolerated. Things happen in the heat of the moment during fast and highly competitive football. We still want to see the passion fans enjoy and demand, but players and managers have to be aware there are lines that should not be crossed.’

In the plans, these are listed as the offences warranting a yellow card:

Visibly disrespectful behaviour to any match official;

An aggressive response to decisions;

Confronting an official face to face;

Running towards an official to contest a decision;

Offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures towards match officials;

Physical contact with any match official in a non-aggressive manner;

A yellow card for at least one player when two or more from a team surround a match official.

There are also new red card offences stipulated:

If a player confronts match officials and uses offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures towards them;

Physical contact with match officials in an aggressive or confrontational manner.

As you can imagine, reaction to this has largely been popular amongst the pundits with many commenting it would only take the referees a few matchdays to get the point across before players and managers took heed…but the same was said about dissent and surrounding officials a few years back, and the referees continued to allow it to happen.

The same was said about simulation, and you can still watch a single highlights show of a weekend and referees can’t make their minds up – often giving two wildly contradictory decisions in the space of 45 minutes.

Of course the role model aspect of the modern game has to be factored in, and making these new plans should be applauded but the question is will these new rules be followed or will they quickly fall by the wayside when a referee bottles it with a big name player or at a key moment of the game?

Football League Chief Executive Shaun Harvey was confident they would be, as he spoke about the difference between these rules and existing ones.

‘Our domestic football has traditionally been admired for its excitement and sense of fair play. However, there are rising concerns amongst supporters, clubs and the football authorities about declining standards of on-field behaviour by some players and managers. This season will see the introduction of a second group of full-time referees, who will primarily oversee matches in the Championship, so it is therefore a good time for the EFL, in conjunction with the Premier League and FA, to ensure that match officials have the full support of the football authorities to apply the relevant laws in the interests of the game. To be clear, this is not designed to be just another ‘Fair Play` initiative in order to encourage better conduct by players and managers, this is a clear set of instructions from the football authorities to referees to take action against certain behaviour that we will not tolerate in our matches.’

The proof will be in the pudding.