Wednesday 21 March 2018 11:42, UK
Red cards for severe dissent would prevent disrespect towards referees, say Craig Bellamy and Ian Wright on The Debate.
As part of Support The Ref week, a study of grassroots refs by Sky Sports News and the FA 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".
The collaboration also discovered that 76 per cent of grassroots refs believe elite managers' criticisms of referees is a big or fairly big problem.
Though dissent has reduced in the Premier League through stricter rules brought in at the beginning of the 2016/17 season, Bellamy feels the authorities can still do more to prevent disrespect.
"I'd like to see referees send them off, and say: 'If you speak to me like this, I will send you off!' And I guarantee, I wouldn't do it again.
"I don't want to miss games, I don't want to let me team down in this way. If they are a lot firmer with it, and actually show reds for lack of respect and severe dissent.
"If they said: 'This is why I've sent them off, this is what he's said to me, and I'm not accepting that', I would agree with it. Even as a player, I would apologise and say he was right to send me off, because I spoke to him in this way, and it is not accepted.
"The referees need to take it upon themselves to say: 'We're not having any more of this, we're going to stop it, if they're not going to behave, and if they speak to me in any way I don't like, off you go!'
"Players wouldn't do it, because they don't want to miss game time."
Former Arsenal striker Wright insists the authorities have the power to implement a tougher stance on dissent, and recognises that disrespect in the top leagues trickle down into grassroots football.
"I totally, totally agree with respecting the referees. I don't like to see them surrounding the referee.
"They've got the power to do it, and they should do it, and it seeps down to grassroots football too. People surround the referees.
"If you're 17, 18, why would you want to be a referee if people are abusing you on a Sunday morning?"
Follow the debate all week on SSN and on our digital platforms at www.skysports.com/supporttheref