Match-based discipline - your questions answered

Last month on Club Website we brought you an interview with Mark Ives, the FA's Disciplinary Manager.

The interview marked the introduction of new match-based disciplinary measures introduced to all open-age football in England this season.

A number of you came back with your comments on the new system and we're pleased to report that, straight from the horse's mouth, Mark Ives himself has addressed your points directly.

Your comments and Mark's replies can be found below.  If you have any further queries please feel free to add further comments and, don't forget, you can email any queries direct to the FA themselves at


Martin Ball: An excellent system and hopefully it will work. My only comment in relation to the question about mistaken identity is that there should never be a problem with a Caution or a Sending Off – if the wrong player is punished due to ‘mistaken identity’, all their club needs to do is advise the local FA of the correct player who should have been punished

Mark Ives: I did not cover mistaken identity in my interview but the issue is simply addressed.  If there is a case of mistaken identity – the Club can submit a claim for mistaken identity that does not need video evidence.  The Club needs to confirm who committed the offence and that person needs to conform it was them.  It then goes to a commission (paper based only) to decide if the offence gets transferred to the correct person.


Shuggie: Would love to see this rolled out over the whole country not just in England, including at all 11 aside games from youth level upwards. I know of a player at U17 level in the WLAYFC league in Scotland who was cautioned in may and didnt receive his match bans until two months later which meant he missed the start of the new season. Ref said he kicked an opponent where video evidence could have proved that he stood on the players foot as they both came of the park after the tackle.

Mark Ives: I will pass the comments on to the SFA.


Julian Cope (referee): Just two quick questions… re: “Recognised matches to which suspensions apply include all league games, league cups, FA competitions and the Senior County Cup that the team plays in.”

1. Does this apply also to pre-season friendlies where a league secretary or club secretary has obtained the services of a registered referee?

Mark Ives: If a player gets sent off in a friendly, the offence will attract match based suspension.  The matches that can be used to “serve the suspension” are those listed.

2. What about County Cup matches below Senior level, e.g. Junior County Cup etc.?

Mark Ives: It is the Senior County Cup of the parent county that the team plays in which is not necessarily “The Senior Cup”.


R. H. Swan: System good. However instructions on procedure if no correspondence from County FA should be made clearer, and I suggest:  “It is your responsibility to report all offences, cautions, dismissals, and totting up of bookings————–”, rather than the ambiguous “lack of paper work is no excuse”.

Mark Ives: Fair comment.  The lack of paperwork statement is in relation to the referee not submitting his/her report and this being no form of defence.

Secondly I feel the time for notifying a player of his suspension, and then for remitting any money should be returned to fourteen days. The Secretary of any club with more than one side who might have a bad weekend is put in an almost impossible position when having to do all this in one week.

Mark Ives: We have in the last few weeks returned the response time for cautions to 14 days.  The difficulty for send offs is that if there is a delay in getting the report out to the Clubs – the reply time may be after the suspension has started.  We then open ourselves up for criticism on a reply by date being later than the suspension date.  We are however looking at the difficulty over payments  by Clubs.  The other issue important to me is to minimise the administration and burden on the volunteers that run the Clubs.  We do have a number of options which are being discussed in the coming weeks that may assist.

Thirdly. Is any disciplinary action taken against a referee who fails to report such incidents?

Mark Ives: If a referee deliberately fails to submit a report they are charged either under FA regulations if it was a one off incident.  For more serious and deliberate acts of failing to report an incident after action has been taken – the referee would be charged for a breach of FA Rule E3 – improper conduct.


Vincent Taylor: Good ideas. The standard of refereeing must be monitored as well.

Mark Ives: Clubs have the ability to report on the standard of refereeing through the League.  Some think this is a pointless exercise because they do not see any direct action. Issues are however picked up, “when reported” through the correct channels and assistance/assessments given to referees.


Andrew Clemens: The new discipline procedures are good apart from the fact that the appeal process for cards of any sort have been removed. If there is a case of mistaken identity for example, you can only appeal with video evidence. This is fine in the professional game but clubs at Sunday League Level do not have the facilities to do this, unless they record all of their games (I know one club who does). Once again it seems that this particular side of things favours the big boys and leaves the smaller clubs without a leg to stand on!

Mark Ives: Mistaken Identity does not need DVD/Video evidence

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