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Football Association reveal landmark grassroots refereeing strategy

The FA has announced a new three-year strategy to improve refereeing at grassroots level and inspire the next generation of referees in England.

The plan, which will be known as 'To Grow, Guide and Govern' - and will be deployed from grassroots to elite level - is made up of four key goals, with the overall aim of ensuring "the game is officiated at the highest possible standards and refereeing thrives both now, and in the future."

Those goals are as follows:

  1. Making refereeing an attractive career choice - Halving the time it takes to reach the top levels and providing slicker, easier admin via one system across the game.
  2.  Improving referee experience - Introducing new rewards & recognition and the implementation of behavioural change initiatives, including the trial of bodycams for grassroots referees.
  3.  Making refereeing more inclusive - A commitment to a 50% increase in referees from historically under-represented communities and a 50% increase of female referees
  4. Enhancing referee performance and development - Tripling online resources and training and doubling investment in our development system.

The strategy also "commits to ensuring the safety and continued enjoyment of referees at all levels by reducing abuse and making referees feel truly valued on and off the pitch."

From next season, points deductions are to be introduced in the grassroots game if players or coaches commit repeated offences of serious misconduct. The strategy also states bodycam trials will continue across 2023/24.

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said: "Referees are the lifeblood of our game, so this new strategy is critical to attracting and retaining our match officials. We need to create a safe, inclusive and enjoyable environment for referees at all levels and to offer strong support throughout their career.

"The strategy also outlines our targets and positive action programmes that will further diversify the referee and match official community.

"Critically, we have also halved the time it takes to progress to the top of the game, to increase its attractiveness as a career choice."

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