Shotley Rose secretary slams Suffolk FA

ONE of the longest-serving administrators in local football thinks it is time to stand up for players against the Big Brother attitude of the Suffolk Football Association.

ONE of the longest-serving administrators in local football thinks it is time to stand up for players against the Big Brother attitude of the Suffolk Football Association.

Paul Card, who has been connected with football for 40 years and secretary of Licensed Trades League Shotley Rose since 1974, says that today's players have a bad deal.

He blames the attitude of people who make decisions within the Football Association and calls for referees to be given more discretionary powers.

"If we don't watch out all the fun will be taken out of the game," said Card today. "One of Shotley Rose's most respected players has given up this season following the treatment he received at a personal hearing. Plenty more will follow."

Card's condemnation is such that he knows he is risking a disciplinary charge from the Suffolk FA.

"But we are in the 21st century, and I feel so strongly that I have to speak out," he said.

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The Rose reserve side has just survived a folding-up scare because of difficulties in finding enough players, and Card says the situation is such that many local clubs are now struggling to survive.

"People in high office within the Suffolk FA are remunerated very well for their work," continued Card. "I feel they should show more discretion towards clubs and the volunteers doing work free of charge.

"How much longer are we going to tolerate the ridiculous suspensions that are being handed out? A player pushes another in the back – and gets suspended for 35 days, which taking into account Saturday and Sunday games adds up to around ten matches.

"Another player swears at the referee and also gets 35 days. Technically the referee was right to show red in both cases but neither offence did anybody any harm. They resulted in no one having to take time off work because of injury.

"What makes it worse is that personal hearings are such a sham. They are manned mainly be ex-referees and it is a case of referees being judge and jury.

"Why not have ex-players on commissions who are still in touch with the modern game?

"At a personal hearing I went too recently it was obvious from the evidence he gave that the referee did not see the incident concerned. He did not lie and he was not cheating but he was not relating the incident the way that it happened.

"Yet the commission backed his version and a player was banned 35 days and had his fine increased to take into account the hearing.

"Every time I have offered my opinions to county officials I have been told that disciplinary matters within the Suffolk FA are a closed shop."

Card says that he appreciates referees have a hard enough job and he has no desire to criticise them.

"We have had two excellent officials this season," he said. "But they are put under far too much pressure. The laws change, and the interpretation of the laws, change far too often.

"And why cannot referees be given powers to use their common sense? A little discretion would go a long, long way."

To make his case on this point, Card picks out the law that states that a player must be shown a red card if he handles the ball on the goal line.

"This is nine times out of ten a reflex action. There is no malice intended. Yet the player concerned is sent off and gets fined and banned.

"You query the point to the referee and he says that he has no option than to show red because it is stated in the laws of the game.

"This is rubbish. The laws also state that a player should be sent off if he uses foul language. If referees did not use discretion over this most games wouldn't finish as most players would be off the field."

Card's answer to a hand ball offence on the line is to keep the offender on the pitch but award a penalty with no goalkeeper in position.

"It might sound daft but it would work," added Card. "The handball offence is not ungentlemanly and it is not unsporting. It is just a reflex action, yet gets punished too severely. Give the other team a goal and carry on.

"I have no sympathy with violent players or those who make over the top tackles. And someone who verbally abuses a referee or opponent also deserves severe punishment.

"But the situation is weighed so top heavy at the moment it is ruining the game for myself and for many local players."

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