'Managers and players must understand responsibility': Neale Barry's view on referee survey results
As part of Support The Ref week, Neale Barry attempts to give his explanation of our survey findings
Last Updated: 20/03/18 6:10am
The FA's head of refereeing Neale Barry gives his verdict on the eye-catching findings from our referee's survey.
Lack of respect for referees at elite level is encouraging poor behaviour within the grassroots game, and managers' criticisms are a problem, according to a survey gathered by SSN and The FA.
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The survey, completed by 2,905 grassroots officials as part of Sky Sports' Support The Ref week, found that 91 per cent believe the apparent lack of respect for their colleagues in the elite game is a "big or fairly big problem" for grassroots refs and the behaviour towards them.
Parents' criticism was also discussed, as well as the pathway from grassroots to the top of the game in officiating, so we had Barry give his immediate thoughts on the findings...
91% - feel lack of respect for referees at elite level is encouraging poor behaviour in the grassroots game
Barry: I don't think this is a surprising answer. We need to try and get them to understand at the highest level that they have a responsibility for the image of the game. It does impact grassroots football.
So all of us need to work together to ensure that managers and players at the top level understand the image of the game, understand their responsibility, and try to ensure that their behaviour is as good as it can be, so that grassroots referees don't get the same from grassroots players.
76% - feel managers criticising referees is a big/fairly big problem
Barry: I'm not sure there is a complete solution. When I started refereeing 45 years ago, I was hearing managers, players and media criticising referees exactly the same as I do now.
I don't think you're ever going to eliminate it, but you just have to try and get people to understand they have a responsibility to the image of the game.
When you think of the managers, players and refs, they all start in grassroots football. Every single one of them.
Support The Ref week
Sky Sports will once again be focusing on the role of the officials in football in our Support The Ref week
78% - feel parents criticising referees is a big/fairly big problem
Barry: Again, when I started refereeing the game at 14, I was getting abuse from parents the same as they're getting now. But we still need to try and get people to understand their responsibility to the image of the game.
I think if you showed some of the parents a clip of their behaviour, particularly in youth football, they'd be embarrassed.
But when you look at youth football now, there is a much better overall environment for young referees.
53% - disagree that there is a clear pathway from being a grassroots referee to the PGMOL
Barry: There is a very, very clear pathway. Once a referee begins at a Level 7, and comes onto the promotion pathway, it is very clear through to the PGMOL.
There are very set criteria for those referees through the system, and I must say we have some excellent referees coming through. The future in refereeing is very bright.
Follow the debate all week on SSN and on our digital platforms at www.skysports.com/supporttheref
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