Football in Bracknell

Opinion: The FA’s new ‘sin bin’ idea feels like an empty gesture

Thoughts from both sides on the proposed sin bin trial

Opinion: The FA’s new ‘sin bin’ idea feels like an empty gesture

Is it just me or does the FA’s new sin bin trial announced this week feel like an empty gesture?

For anyone who hasn’t seen the announcement from Wembley this week, the FA are to trial a sin bin for players receiving a yellow card for dissent lasting 10 minutes in step 7 leagues (in our case the Thames Valley Premier League which Berks County compete in) next season.

I fully understand they are looking at ways to protect referee’s and this should absolutely be applauded – without referee’s there would be no game and I hope our award for ‘Referee of the Season’ in the Bracknell Football Awards is well supported – but I have at least two problems right now with the whole idea.

Who is going to police it?

I have stood in the middle with a whistle when required in the odd match during my Sunday League career and found the whole job overwhelming.

I have admittedly never been on a refereeing course but as someone who likes to think he knows the laws I have stepped in on occasion. There are though SO MANY laws and so many different interpretations to be had so how is one man on his own supposed to monitor ‘off field’ all the while following the match.

We are repeatedly shown the mistakes of professional referees on TV and they have the benefit of being mic’d up to colleagues around the ground so how is a referee with club linesman supposed to police a sin bin? It’s an extra responsibility I’m sure they don’t need.

Why isn’t the trial being run in a major competition?

Absolutely no disrespect to step 7 leagues but by running the trial that far down the football pyramid (and I don’t know if the TVPL are planning on being involved) it feels like the FA are hiding it away from anyone who could have an opinion on it.

Why isn’t it being tested in an environment with actual scrutiny and lessons learned? The League Cup or better still the Championship?

I watched the ‘kick in’ trial where throw ins were replaced by balls launched from the sideline in the ICIS (now Ryman League) in 1990s and that initiative sadly – for those who love a Rory Delap throw – didn’t hang around.

Actually enforce the RESPECT campaign at all levels

I thought the RESPECT campaign when it came in was a good idea, but it seems to have done nothing to improve the game aside from introducing a new pre match handshake.

I would love to see a referee send off a player for dissent. Just a straight red there and then. Don’t stand there and let them hurl abuse – just get rid – I’ve seen it so many times at step five and I believe that would be a far more effective campaign especially if it was a Premier League match along with decent bans for offenders.

While I have written this from the point of view of someone who doesn’t necessarily believe it will make a difference, I’ve not really seen a backlash online toward it so do let me know if you think it will help.

In support of the trial, I have received this message from a referee who has asked to remain anonymous.

They say: “I think it could be a good thing. There is a lack of referees who want to do games, especially on a Sunday morning all because of the aggravation that they get from players.

“If this works it should hopefully encourage referees back. But referees need to be consistent. The hard part is managing it especially if you are on your own on a field where you are asking a player who is already ‘in a bad mood’ to leave the pitch for ten minutes.

“Then you have to remember the time to let him back on etc. How is the player going to react to being off when he comes back on?.

“In general though I’m for it. I hope it does eradicate issues referees already have. I had a goalkeeper all game on my final league game of the season make comments before I eventually cautioned him. If I had this power I may have cautioned him a bit earlier and given him a time out.”

Really interested to hear your thoughts on this. The comment facility is down the page or you can email [email protected] We will publish correspondence so please specify if you would prefer not to be named.


Tom Canning

Tom is the co-editor of FootballinBracknell. He has played at the lowest possible level of football. In real life Tom works for Trinity Mirror. Manager of Binfield Ladies in the Thames Valley Women's League.


  1. […] the scheme was announced in May a referee contacted us anonymously and said: “In general though I’m for it. I hope it does eradicate issues referees […]