Oldham's Sunday league soccer refs' violence protest

Fourteen football referees in Oldham's Sunday league are refusing to officiate, saying they fear for their safety on the pitch.

The referees are protesting, after three players banned for abusive behaviour were allowed to play again.

League officials said most matches were going ahead and said the referees had over-reacted.

Former referees' secretary, Eddie Aspin, said the officials had had enough of violent and abusive players.

The league has drafted in replacement officials from elsewhere.

League Chairman Jack Bamford said: "It's blown out of proportion to be truthful.

"This year we've tried to help by trying to stop certain players but on appeal they were let back into the league - they're not that bad, the lads.

"The referees had a meeting and we weren't there to put our side and they have taken this stance."

But Mr Aspin said: "Some of the players were already on a final warning and they've let them back in on another final warning.

"The referees have taken a stance saying, 'We're not happy these players have been done for behaviour and assaults on referees and we're not putting up with it any more'."

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