Update Number 5

16th August 2017

Hi everyone

Not too long before the season kicks off now. As we are now through the majority of registrations and organising teams, fixtures are out and some of you have started your pre season friendlies, its time for me to re-energise our Respect success of last season.

As many of you know we won the National Respect League of the Year, this is not just youth football. Consequently what we did last season was seen as a success by the FA, but not only the FA, yourselves, through the surveys, feedback and workshops we ran also said lets keep this going, and keep it going we will.

Over the coming weeks we will be drip feeding out more information of Match Day Respect (we can no longer call this a respect pilot, as its now adopted by the FA). That said its worthy of a few points to note on the few changes we are making:-

  1. Pitch Marshalls will now be called Respect Marshalls
  2. The Respect Marshalls are now compulsory at all ages
  3. We will be distributing on Collection night small cards with the main points of Match Day respect highlighted to be handed to all Managers and Parents.

In addition Frank is working on obtaining more respect vests, in particular for the U7 new teams, along with other new sides. He will be letting you know how to obtain these and the process in due course.

We are working hard with designing a better induction process for referees to get them better positioned in working with Respect Marshalls, but that said please can all clubs ask their Respect Marshalls to approach and welcome the child referees to games, just talk to each other.

One final point that we will elaborate on is that Managers and Coaches are being asked to stand in one area only, as per best practice guidance. Do not position 3 or 4 coaches around the ground, and do not march up and down the line, tracking the linesman. This is poor coaching practice and also leads to disrespect, more on that soon.

Our respect section of the website has been updated please find all resources there for download.


Below is also a link to the FA Play your Part guide for youth football


Please cascade this note to everyone in your club.


Graham Ekins

SYL Chairman

Update Number 4

2nd December 2017

Hi everyone
Over the last few weeks I have again been out across a number of Grounds from Mitcham Park, down through Abbey Rangers, and over to CB Hounslow and Whitton Wanderers. The overall impression is that the environments feel friendly and the Kids are enjoying themselves.

The Football
Whilst I can bang on about the Pilot, and a bit of that later, the Football that is played is the reason for all of this. Since the season started we have held Festival events for U7’s and 2 for U8’s, one being today, the U9’s , U10’s and U11’s have all completed their first small comps, introducing the competitive element to the children gradually.

The older age groups are progressing steadily through cups and leagues, all in all good progress, few problems and everyone just getting on with having fun on a Sunday. A huge pat on the back for all the club’s and organisers who make this happen week in and week out.

When I do travel out to the grounds I try to have a chat with the referees and how they feel about things, so far 100% of all the referees, particularly the younger ones have said, that because we have the visible Pitch Marshalls, that they do feel as though someone is their to help them if it starts to go a bit wrong, they all seem confident and perhaps will have good games more often than note.

My Visit to Mitcham was also to meet up with Nick Robinson from the FA’s Sanction Pilot Committee, to have a look at how the Pilot was progressing. We spoke with Matt Westlake one of our Senior referees who conveyed to Nick how he felt that this was a real step forward in providing a supportive environment for referees to learn their skill. He just wished it had been there when he was younger.

To further support this, the following is an email received at the county from a parent of one of our young referees.
To: Tim Lawrence (Surrey FA Referee Manager)
Subject: RE: RE Oliver ******** CRC

Hi Tim

I just wanted to give some feedback re the SYL pilot scheme  from my son Oliver who is 16 and has been reffing for 2 seasons now.

Oliver looks young for his age and when he started I think some people  thought he was an easy target to put pressure on his decisions. We had got to a point in the first year where we had to stay with him in case of confrontation.  He had to put in a complaint in one case.  This had put him off reffing older age groups and knocked his confidence.

Oliver has now reffed with the new pilot scheme in place and could really see the difference it made to the whole game.  There were a few “oh refs”  but only as expected in any game. I think this is a great scheme and really hope it will role out to all leagues as soon as possible.

Kind regards


I can have as many reports and conversations as I like, maybe people tell me what I want to hear, but unsolicited email, such as above, do give me the confidence we are heading in the right direction.
Good Practice and Reminders
A few bits that we have come across that we need to fix:-

• Linesman acting as Pitch Marshalls – absolutely not, this is not permitted, if there is no Pitch Marshall for whatever lukewarm reason, then it falls to the manager. I cannot now see the reluctance for people to don the High Vis Vest, please encourage people
• The no standing behind oppo linesman seems to be in the main adhered to, but please keep reminding people.
• Referee reporting still not at a good enough level, I will be having a purge again on this – REFEREES please ensure you match report every game, this scheme is here for all to participate in, which includes yourselves.

Other News
Surrey Youth League Web Site – We are in the process of having a New Website, a few finishing touches and it will be live soon. I am keen to see if anyone would like to join the committee with the sole purpose of keeping the new site up to date and perhaps have a few idea’s on making the content even better. David Lomax and myself have lots to do, so another pair of committed hands would be great.

I think we have got off to a good start with the pilot, there will always be issues and we will have the odd bad game, but when we have asked every club to deal with a respect breach then you have done so, no questions, no excuses just been dealt with. This ownership is truly brilliant – Thank You.

Around Christmas time I will get a couple of surveys out for you all to ponder and let us know your thoughts on the first few months, keep your eyes peeled.
My job takes me to Europe and I speak with many of my colleagues about the “Madness” I find myself in, well just the other day I was sent a photograph of an “A” Board – In Hungarian, maybe the whole football community has got fed up with this nonsense and we are all joining together.
Lets have a great last month before Christmas, go out there on a Sunday and just enjoy yourselves, but above all make sure the children and those young referees enjoy themselves.

Graham Ekins
SYL Chairman

Update Number 3

28th October 2017

Time for a further update on the Pilot progress to date. A number of the committee have been out and about across 20 grounds and clubs over the recent weeks. Its been great to see the barriers up, the “A” boards out and the Pitch Marshalls very visible.

Not one of us have observed any poor behaviour just great enjoyment and kids having fun. Indeed I have seen one or two fiercely contested matches, with the odd “Oh Ref” but nothing that crosses the line, just passion which is what we all want to see.

Referee feedback.
Whilst we have had the inevitable reports of poor behaviour I have received several reports from referees stating how they feel most sides are really trying to improve the touchline behaviour.
If we continue to receive reports such as these then maybe we are going in the right direction.

Respect Breach Issues
Respect Breaches towards clubs have totalled around 16 at the moment. The trend over the last 3 weeks havs not been Spectators ,but managers getting disrespectful towards the referees during and in particular after the games, generally when a team has lost! As a reminder below are the key aspects from a Managers code of conduct:-

• Show respect to others involved in the game including match officials, opposition   players, coaches, managers, officials and   spectators
• Adhere to the laws and spirit of the game
• Promote Fair Play and high standards of behaviour
• Always respect the match official’s decision
• Never enter the field of play without the referee’s permission
• Never engage in public criticism of the match officials
• Never engage in, or tolerate, offensive, insulting or abusive language or behaviour

Please remember that many of the referees are children themselves under the age of 18, adults berating children could be straying in to area’s Child safe guarding.

County Misconduct Cases
It is only in the last 2/3 weeks that cases from the early weeks have been concluded and or progressed at the county level. So far the county has suspended people, fined them and several clubs have now been charged with failing to control spectators.
In addition one charge is out for a manager who asked a referee not to put in a caution, please don’t ask referees not to do what they are mandated to do by the FA. If referees report this to the county FA then charges to managers will follow. Please respect the referees decision to caution.

Cases with the county are currently up on last season at this time, mainly because the reporting mechanisms are better and the referees are now adopting a firmer stance towards abuse.

I cannot speak highly enough of all of the clubs that have received who have taken action with members of their club upon receiving a respect breach from the league.
Action over the last month has included verbal warnings, manager suspensions and spectator suspensions. To date we have not had a repeat offence from any individual team.

Referees and Respect
We are very conscious that respect needs to go both ways, and we have had two reports of where referees used inappropriate language in a game. The County FA are dealing with these situations and the referee’s being investigated.
In addition I want to emphasise how you report referee standards of performance. It is NOT for pitch marshals to report the standards of referees performance on a match card. This is handled as per the referee performance reporting process as clearly written down on page 7 of the handbook. It tells you about marks and what to do and who to send the report to. Pitch Marshall reports complaining about referees will not be dealt with, please follow the process by emailing a report to Alan Wiggins the Referees secretary.

Referee Attire
One aspect that I have observed and has been alerted to me is the attire that some referees wear, mainly the younger referees. Socks down to ankles, jogging bottoms, sweatshirts etc,etc – not something that will attract respect. Some referees are in their early weeks and it will take time for referee attire to arrive, but 5 weeks is too long to wait.

If clubs observe referees who have been appointed by the league / club as QUALIFIED referees (Not Volunteer Dads), not wearing suitable gear then please let myself and or alan wiggins know.

Referee reporting has improved over the recent weeks, nearly up to 90% in three age groups and around 60% in the other competitive leagues, some of this is because its volunteer Dads who have not been educated by clubs on how to do so.
Pitch Marshall reports are also heading in the right direction.

In a few weeks I have to submit an interim report on the Pilot of what has happened to date, I will be out with our FA Liaison Officer on 6th November to see how the pilot is progressing.
Following on from this I will be coming to all clubs and members of the league on your thoughts to date via a survey. There will be two surveys, one specifically towards clubs, and another that will allow anyone, managers, players, spectators to also submit their views anonymously if they so wish.
These surveys around the New Year time frame will then form a basis to have a further workshop with the clubs to work out where the Pilot is , pro’s con’s and whether we recommend to proceed with all, part or none of it.
Lets not lose sight of what we are trying to do, make the Sunday mornings pleasant for everyone, raise our standards and try to keep the referees in the game.
Go enjoy those Sunday Mornings.

Graham Ekins
SYL Chairman

Update Number 2

28th September 2017

Hi everyone

I will continue to publish these reports every 2 or 3 weeks. Hence I feel that’s it right 3 weeks into the season to inform everyone of how the Pilot is further evolving.

Accolades and Applause
As part of these reports I want to praise everyone that are embracing the pilot. Firstly I want to highlight that all of what we do is for the children, its so pleasing when I get the following story about a young man showing fantastic sportsmanship and making the life of a referee so much easier.

“My name is Sati Dhillon I am the manage Whitton Wanderers Panthers U12

I just wanted to draw your attention and chairman’s to something that all parents, players and managers can learn about the respect campaign.

We had cup game against Kingstonian Colts u12 at the weekend, it was a fantastic game both teams playing really well and the scores level at 1 – 1. Then with 15 mins left of the game Kingstonian Colts are awarded a penalty by ref. Which could clearly be seen, was not a penalty.

No one said said anything and this young boy by name of Alex Jacobs got up and said to the ref that no one touched him for the penalty. Making the ref change he’s decision and the game ended 1-1. What great courage and honesty from this young lad, This is what the respect campaign is all about.

With all the bad press there has been about people miss behaving, it would be great if this young lad got some great positive press and recognised for being so honest.

I thought it would be Worth a share!”

I don’t think I need to say any more than the description of the courage and sportsmanship displayed by Alex, just brilliant, well done young man your team mates and family should be proud of you, all part of respect for the game.

When I started this Pilot with all the views gathered at workshops and surveys, I still had some nagging doubts as to whether clubs would take ownership. I cannot be more pleased that the following clubs have taken action to educate the few that have digressed so far.

A big thank you to date to Kew Park Rangers, Esher, Worcester Park, Ewell Saxons, Met Police and SCR colts. Whilst the League needed to inform them that some members of their clubs had digressed, they followed our guidance and implemented their own Club Codes Conduct and issued a range of actions from verbal warnings, through educational video’s, reminders to teams of their conduct and a couple of suspensions. These clubs have demonstrated they are embracing the pilot and doing their very best to clean up the touchline. If I had children looking for a club to play at, knowing that a club has codes of conduct that are meaningful and used when necessary, is a big plus, well done to all of you, please be proud.

Respect Breach Issues
As mentioned previously over the first 3 weeks we have around 6 Respect Breaches, but also a number of reports that are misconduct reports sent to the FA. The FA themselves are dealing with cases and have issued Charge Notices to 4 clubs that I know off.

Pilot Conformity – Mandatory or Not
I need to be very clear about a couple of area’s. The Pilot is mandatory part the League for all Teams at all ages, this means that the Pilot to improve respect and deliver a great environment for children on a Sunday morning applies to EVERYONE. It is in our rules, please read Rule 2(H) in the handbook.

To be clear Pitch Marshalls from U11 – U15 are mandatory, every other age group we are encouraging everyone to have one, and many are, and many are finding the benefit.

No standing behind the linesman, this is best practice for EVERY age group, I expect everyone to adopt this, why? Because of the 6 Respect Breaches and 4 misconduct, over 50% have involved opposition spectators standing behind Linesman and causing problems. There is no need for anyone to go against this, if you don’t tell your spectators to do this then shame on you. There is no need for anyone to say they didn’t know, every manager and pitch marshall should know this by now, just make it happen. I will not be pleased that if this week I have another one of these incidents, save yourself time by not having to deal with respect breaches or misconduct charges by allowing spectators to do this, just madness.

Scope of Pilot
To be clear the Pilot is only FA sanctioned for matches played in the Surrey Youth League. It does not apply to County Cup matches in any county. However it doesn’t stop you from having a Pitch Marshall nor indeed asking spectators from standing behind opposition linesman. This could be an issue when playing teams not in the SYL so be careful as to how the message could be received. The league cannot handle incidents as the matches will not be on Prawn Sandwich to report on, nor are they under our jurisdiction.

I cant be more pleased with everyone’s efforts to report on Prawn Sandwich, Pitch Marshalls and Referees, most people have got the hang of it now. Its proving to be invaluable in corroborating reports, marks and incidents. However we do need to improve the numbers of you reporting, its not hard or difficult and takes less than 2 minutes for a no issues report from PM’s, please try.

Quantity & Quality of Referee Reports
As per last report, I still need all the referees to report, especially those appointed by clubs or the league. League rule 13 (J) is very clear that you are obligated to report. Commencing from now we will be chasing referees for their reports if we do not have them by midday Tuesday following the game, should we not have these reports then we are likely to remove referees from carrying out their duties in the League and report them to the FA for breaching their responsibilities as a match official.

All that said the reports we are getting from referees is good, quality might be improved, but they are good enough for ourselves to act upon, or be made aware that misconduct has occurred and been sent to county. Through this we can ensure that county are dealing and nothing is falling through the gaps.

I know one or two clubs out of 130 clubs are reluctantly participating in this Pilot, they are doing the bare minimum to be seen to try and embrace it, I know who they are and I’m watching.

I’m also aware that people are not completely convinced that actions are being taken, I can only point you to my earlier statements, real action is being taken and the FA are also taking action.

I have had so many emails and comments from Clubs and Referees in saying how everyone is trying and little embryo’s of improvement can be seen. Its early days ,but let’s keep going, let’s just get to that point where unacceptable behaviour is immediately clamped down on by everyone, it just has to be socially unacceptable.

Go enjoy those Sunday Mornings.

Graham Ekins
SYL Chairman

Update Number 1

12th September 2017

As promised I will keep you all up to date on the SYL Respect Pilot as we go through the season.

I have to say that yesterday was a moment to be proud of being associated with Youth Football, the feedback from Referees and Pitch Marshalls has been nothing but supportive of the pilot and its aims, and how much easier it will now be to nip the nonsense in the bud, making the Sunday morning football a fantastic place to be, especially for the Children.

Frank and I walked around a couple of grounds and it was very pleasing to see the Pitch Marshalls visible, along with the Respect Signage and “A” Boards on display, a fantastic effort from all clubs.

Respect Breach Issues
We had three teams reported for Respect issues, all are now reported to club secretaries to investigate and deal with.

Disappointingly one involved spectators standing behind an opposition linesman. We all know this is a conflict point and one aspect of the Pilot is to ensure this doesn’t happen, so please make sure we do all we can to not have spectators stand behind opposition linesman.

Prawn Sandwich Technical Issues
Prawn Sandwich stood up well to all the new report forms for refs and Pitch Marshalls. There is one issue regarding submitting reports via mobile phones, it seems to be throwing you out on entering the referee selector, so for now please just use a laptop, desktop or tablet (This may have an issue though)

However the systems work that has gone on allowed us to find the Breaches quickly out of 350 matches and get the notifications to the Clubs promptly.

Quantity of  Referee Reports
We do need to see an improvement in the number of referees inputting result cards, remember that referees are paid to do the job, part of this is to complete relevant match cards. We will shortly be auditing the club appointed qualified refs, along with league appointed refs to ensure reports have been submitted versus matches they have refereed or been appointed to. All Referees in the SYL have to play their part, please ensure club appointed refs are aware they have to report all matches.

Pitch Marshall Reports.
Many of the Pitch Marshalls submitted the nil return reports, it was just so pleasing to read many of the comments applauding the Pilot and saying how well the games went, can you please get the message out that we would like to see all the nil reports and positive comments, I’m not compelling I am just appealing to everyone’s good nature, best practice.

I am convinced that if we all embrace the Pilot the level of disrespect and nonsense will reduce, please try to get Pitch Marshalls for all teams, and please don’t be put of if some teams outside of the U11-U15 compulsory age groups don’t have one, eventually it will be second nature.

Thank you for all your efforts in getting this up and running, no room for complacency, and then Sunday mornings will be even better.

Graham Ekins
SYL Chairman