Sin bins will be introduced to all senior football at step five and below from the start of next season - which will mean a hasty learning of the new rules for a number of clubs in our area.
The FA has given the thumbs up for referees to temporarily dismiss players for 10-minute periods for dissent, following successful trials.
While foul and abusive language can still see players receive straight red cards, lesser crimes, such as kicking the ball away, could lead to a player being sent to his side’s technical area until allowed to return by the match official.
“The major premise for the change is to promote respect and improve the experience for all participants with poor discipline being dealt with on the day,” explained Michael Brader, Lincolnshire FA’s Referee Development Officer.
“There were 73,500 cautions for dissent in the 2016-7 season and the leagues that have trialed this new law have seen a reduction of 38 per cent in such offences.”
While being temporarily dismissed doesn’t carry the £10 administration fee that comes with a regular booking, any player sin binned twice cannot continue in the game, but can be replaced if their side has an available substitute to use.
If a player receives two sin binnings and a caution, however, they will leave the game and cannot be replaced
But one rule worth noting in cup competitions is that any player who is still temporarily dismissed at the end of a contest is allowed to take part in a penalty shootout.
The new rules will affect teams in the United Counties League, such as Boston Town, as well as clubs competing in the Lincolnshire League and Boston and District Saturday League.
“It is a misconception that it is to protect, in particular, young referees,” Mr Brader added. “It is true that referees do cite one of the main reasons for leaving the game to be poor player behaviour, but that is just as prominent in experienced referees.
“I believe the Boston and District Saturday League to be one of the best in the country and every game currently receives a referee.
“But even so, last season incidents occurred which were a catalyst to officials hanging up the whistle.
“What is less quantifiable is how many players and managers walk away from the game as a result of poor standards of behaviour.”
Boston Town boss Gary Edgley was among the many people welcoming a move to support referees.
However, he believes that, as with many new rules, there could be early teething problems.
“As a manager I don’t want my players going round abusing referees because it doesn’t achieve anything,” he told The Standard.
“If our players get sent off or booked for foul and abusive language then we fine them the same amount as the FA, so they get it twice.
“That’s fair because I don’t believe in it. It’s a tough enough job for the referees as it is and I don’t want my players getting on at them.
“But saying that, as a manager I’ve been guilty of doing it as well. But the difference is that if I get in trouble we don’t go down to 10 men.
“I think it will need a full season to see how it’s worked out. Referees and players will need time to get used to the rule and how it works.
“My biggest fear is that, while refs are still learning it, the rules could be manipulated by some clubs in difficult games.”
Wyberton manager Joe Greswell echoed Edgley’s sentiments.
“I can see why the FA are bringing it in,” he said. “They’re under pressure to help protect the officials and, without them, there’s no game.
“You see at the highest level how players crowd around a ref and I can imagine it can be quite intimidating.
“If I’m a young ref, I wouldn’t fancy it. It’s been tried in other leagues and it’s obviously working its way up the ladder. It’s coming in and we have to get use to it.”
Greswell admitted the new rules will take some getting used to.
If a goalkeeper is sin binned then an outfield player must take his place, the stopper only allowed to return after the ball is out of play, unlike teammates in other positions.
Another aspect of the new rule sees managers - with their role as the most senior member of a club on the bench - shouldering the punishment for any dissent from the dug-out.
Greswell added: “If the ref hears something he doesn’t like from the technical area but doesn’t know who said it, he books the most senior member on the bench.
“The goalkeeper’s sin bin could cause a lot of problems, playing an outfield player in goal for 10 minutes could be costly.
“Through no fault of the refs themselves I can see it affecting games and maybe titles.
“I’m sure there will be a few managers blaming this new rule on games they lose but I will be certainly making a point to my lads to respect the officials or risk losing points and trophies.
“Overall the game is changing and whoever adapts quickest will get plenty of joy next season.”
Last season the Boston League used a total of 61 referees across its four divisions and cup contests.
Chairman Roger Gell is welcoming the changes.
“As a league we are in favour of it,” he said.
“We support the Football Association’s Respect project. Hopefully, this can help improve discipline in the league.
“It allows the referees to instill justice at the time and I’m sure this will lead to more respect from teams.
“The referees in our league show excellent commitment to refereeing matches. We used 61 last year and we have an excellent referee selector in Terry Knott, who ensures we have games covered.
“At the end of the day, the referees should be involved in football for enjoyment, as much as everyone else.”