Ten-minute sin bins to be introduced across grassroots football for the new season

Yellow cards will be used to send players in lower leagues to the sin bin. Credit: FA

Ten-minute sin bins are to be introduced across grassroots football from the start of this season.

Referees at lower levels of the game will be given the discretion to send abusive players from the pitch to cool off on the sidelines, similar to how rugby union deals with issues of dissent.

The Football Association, game's governing body, said sin bins will apply to all levels of grassroots football, including youth, veterans and disability.

The move follows a two-season trial covering 135,000 matches, across 31 local leagues, with 25 of them said to have seen an overall reduction in dissent as a result - and 84% of referees, 77% of managers and coaches, and 72% of players were in favour of it being brought in permanently.

Mark Bullingham, Chief Commercial & Football Development Officer at the FA, said: "The introduction of sin bins is a positive step for grassroots football.

"They empower referees to issue punishment for dissent offences which will be served immediately.

"Dissent can either be by word or action and is an expression of disagreement with a referee’s decision-making.

"It is an entirely unnecessary and ugly part of football, and our pilot phase showed that sin bins encourage players to be aware of their own actions and act as a greater deterrent to repeat offensive behaviour, which will improve the game for everyone involved."

The FA move mirrors sin-binning in rugby union, as Australia's Michael Hooper was given 10 minutes last Autumn. Credit: PA

The number of referees quitting the game because of the levels of verbal - and physical - abuse has rocketed in recent years.

Some have been assaulted on the pitch, threatened with violence after the game or had threats made to their families.

  • How will sin bins work?

Sin bins will be indicated by the referee showing a yellow card and clearly pointing with both arms to the side lines.

This will result in a ten-minute dismissal from the pitch during which time the player is not allowed to be substituted or involved in the game in any way, so the team is temporarily down to 10 players.

A second sin-binning for the same player in a match will result in the offending player being dismissed for a further 10 minutes - and, similar to a second yellow card for foul play, that player cannot come back on.

However, in a key difference, once that time has lapsed, his or her team will be able to make a substitution (if they have any left to make), so the team will not be down permanently to 10 players.

Unlike cautions, which will continue to be issued for unsporting behaviour and foul play, players will not be required to pay the £10 administration fee for temporary dismissals.

County FAs will offer training to referees while all participating club secretaries and players will receive a guide.

Lower league refs will be offered training in the new system. Credit: PA
  • What do players, coaches and referees make of it?

The coach

"Sin bins can only be a success as it reiterates the importance of self-discipline for the good of the team," said Dean Garlick, manager, Bexley United in the Orpington & Bromley Division One.

"Putting an individual in the sin bin for dissent, rather than giving a yellow card, has a much greater effect as it makes them consider the impact it’s having on their teammates."

The player

“I initially thought it was going to be a nightmare and that players would be in the sin bin every week," said Mason Newman, Great Shelford, Kershaw Premier League.

"But players quickly got used to it and, as the season went on, everybody respected the rules more and players have learnt not to react in a disrespectful way towards officials and others on and around the pitch.”

The FA believes sin bins will reduce dissent on the field. Credit: PA

The referee

“I haven’t had any issues when putting players into the sin bin and the respect from players and managers towards the referee has certainly increased," Liberatore di Cesare, Kent County League, Southern Counties East FL, Inner London County Schools FA.

"When in the sin bin players tend to realise they’ve let their team down and it improves their behaviour for future matches.”

The chairman

"It seems like a good move to me," said Narbeh Minassian, chairman of Homenetmen FC, in the Chiswick and District Sunday League.

"We've been told before that referees have refused to officiate games because of the amount of abuse they get, so I welcome any step that could give them a bit more protection.

"This definitely won't be an overnight fix but hopefully players and coaches will be tougher on their own teammates when they see dissent."