Sussex football referee hits out at the introduction of sin bins

Referee Rody Zambrano books Dani Alves as Argentina's Sergio Aguero watches on. Picture courtesy of Getty Images
Referee Rody Zambrano books Dani Alves as Argentina's Sergio Aguero watches on. Picture courtesy of Getty Images

A Sussex referee has hit out at the decision to introduce sin-bins for players in Junior and Intermediate football for the upcoming season.

Sin-bins have been introduced as a punishment for dissent after trialing the rule in recent years, but Horsham-based referee John Wilkins is concerned that it will ultimately be detrimental to the game.

In a letter condemning the FA’s decision, he wrote: “Don’t be surprised if football referees this season and beyond pack up officiating in Junior and Intermediate football.

“After a few seasons of some leagues being used for the trial of ‘sin-bins’, it has now been promoted to all leagues. Referees already have enough on their plate without additional responsibilities.”

Wilkins, who has been refereeing in local football leagues since 1982, went on to explain some of the reasons why he thinks the decision to implement sin-bins will harm the game and make a referee’s job considerably tougher.

He continued: “Sin bins are for dissent, but there are no financial penalties unlike the traditional yellow/red cards. And in my opinion, you will need a fourth official to implement this properly.

"But this rule has been introduced without any foresight of the implications being considered.In Junior and Intermediate football, you are lucky to have a club linesman or woman to help you.

“Picture the scene. A referee whom daren’t take his/her eye off the game through both teams being at each other’s throats will have the unwanted distraction of managers bawling at him/her to allow the sin-binned player back on the pitch. Then he/she will have to keep a record of the time the offender(s) have been off the field.

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“Also in this type of football, teams can have short teams of seven or eight players due to unavailability. Supposing one/two players of the same team are sin-binned, technically they have not got a legitimate number of players on the pitch to continue with the game.

"What does the referee do? Abandon the match through lack of numbers? Or do we have a tea-break until their time off the pitch has expired?”

Wilkins also highlighted his concerns over the mentality of referees and encouraged his colleagues to stick to traditions, avoiding ‘another case of soft justice’.

He said: “Sadly, most referees scoff when you highlight the problems that will arise. Unfortunately, this country is riddled with referees who have not got the intellect or the strength of character to reject this new instruction.

“Good, sensible referees will continue with the yellow/red cards for they involve financial punishments for the offender. The sin-bin is just another case of soft justice.”

The newest rule will undoubtedly take some getting used to, but Wilkins is evidently unimpressed at the decision to implement it, and now all referees must adapt going forward with an FA decision that will split opinion.

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