Role for referees in bid to tackle sectarianism

Scottish grade one referee Craig Thomson
SPL referees will be asked to monitor crowd behaviour at matches

Scottish referees will be asked to help eradicate sectarian behaviour at football matches in the new season.

Scottish Premier League officials will liase with match delegates and the police after each game to discuss any problem chanting.

SPL match delegates will also be asked to focus more on matters off the field in the coming campaign.

The move comes after several meeting between clubs, the police and the football authorities.

"Delegates have always reported unacceptable conduct as part of their process, but we're now asking them to focus much more on that," SPL secretary Ian Blair told BBC Scotland.

"There is also going to be an interaction with the referees.

"In addition to simply looking at bookings and sendings off, there's also going to be comparing of notes on what was heard during the game."

The move is part of a drive to tackle the sectarian issue in football through the Joint Action Group.

Forty action points were recommended earlier this month after numerous meetings chaired by Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond.

Other recommendations included a new national football policing unit, greater use of football banning orders and a single code of conduct for managers, players and fans.

Mr Salmond said he was determined to tackle the problem head on, insisting that if the events of last season were to be repeated it would be "a disaster for our national game."

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