The FA have announced plans for grassroots leagues to trial their new ‘temporary dismissals’ ahead of the 2017/18 season.
The temporary dismissals will effectively be football’s version of Rugby’s ‘sin bins’, in which players are sent off the field of play for ten minutes before being allowed to re-enter play once that time has elapsed.
Sin bins usually occur when a player dissents against an official.
The FA say that dissent accounts for 24% of all cautions at grassroots level, and the implementation of the ‘temporary dismissals’ will aim to tackle the problem.
They also say their intention is to change the behaviour of players by imposing an immediate sanction on the player. The use of sin bins will be restricted for cautions of dissent only.
The new ruling will be trialled by clubs at Step 7 and below of the National League System – which is effectively the 11th stage in the English football pyramid. It is widely regarded as the top level of grassroots football.
It includes a mixture of Saturday and Sunday, male, female, adult and youth leagues across the country.
Like Rugby, the temporary dismissals will send a player off the field for ten minutes, before he/she would then be allowed to return to the game having served the suspension.
And whilst referees will still be required to report the incident, the sin bin caution will not attract the normal £10 administration fee as cautions for dissent currently do. This helps puts the focus firmly on changing behaviour without impacting on grassroots clubs’ financial situations.
With nominations for leagues now open to implement temporary dismissals next season, over 60 leagues are reportedly in support of it.
Leagues are not compelled to take part and whether they take part in the trial will be at their own discretion.
However, not everyone is sold on the new ruling.
Senior Colchester official Dave Duffett – a referee, assistant referee, fourth official and national game observer for 2,799 matches, having just completed his 43rd season – is worried about how the leagues at grassroots level will be able to implement the new ruling.
He said: “Maybe it would be a better idea for the tests to be held at National League level, where technical areas are available and where a fourth official is used.”
“Thereafter, results of the test could be analysed, prior to feeding it down to the local parks.
“Until the system is tested, it could well result in difficulties with the enforcement and policing of it.”
It remains to be seen whether temporary dismissals will be a success in the English leagues, but with so many grassroots side taking part in the trial, it will certainly be interesting to monitor over the coming season.