Published: 11:37, 16 October 2020
| Updated: 11:38, 16 October 2020
Uncontrollable behaviour from managers, parents and spectators is threatening the future well-being of the Kent Youth League.
The league’s chief executive Ken Brooke has issued a forthright warning to clubs ahead of this weekend’s matches that they must improve their behaviour.
He cites a referee withdrawing from a game this weekend after he feared for his own safety, managers and coaches’ behaviour more akin to ‘boxing’ and players breaking opponents’ noses or spitting.
In a bid to cut out the bad behaviour, the league has warned they will shut down for a week or two – for all clubs - to make their message clear.
Mr Brooke wrote on Twitter: “A few requests please which I would ask you to share.
“Two out of the last three weeks I have had to deal with a number of quite serious issues that this League will not tolerate - so please be aware of what will happen.
“If we see a repeat of poor behaviour we will be closing down the League for a week, maybe two weeks, without notice to clubs - grossly unfair to those who do things properly but there has to be a collective to do things positively.
“Spectators - please support our match officials - a senior official is not taking a game this weekend because he felt for his own safety after a game - and social distancing rules were breached.
“Managers and coaches - you are responsible for your parents and spectators on the day of the game. You will from Sunday be held totally responsible for their behaviour - and as coaches please support our officials - they are not the enemy.
“Every time a manager or coach oversteps the mark and gets reported your defence is always it was the referee’s fault - referees will make mistakes and so will you and your players.
“We have had a number of coaches and managers literally placing their heads together like rutting antelopes - and your days in this league are numbered when your cases have been dealt with by County - take up boxing please.
“As a manager and coach you are someone that your players will look up to - please like the majority be proud of that position - and stop goading each other - thank you.
“Players - putting your opponents in hospital by breaking their nose or similar - spitting - are all criminal offences - not acceptable in this League - and let’s get back to showing respect for the game and this league - thank you.”
The league, established in 1981 by the late Colin Boswell, put on around 90 matches around Kent at youth age groups.
It is widely regarded as one of the best run leagues at their level of grassroots football and Mr Brooke is keen that their reputation is not tarnished.
He added: “My team work tirelessly to bring you football every week - we deal with 500 emails a week and 90 games every Sunday.
“We are all fed up with the number of growing incidents each week - if they leave - the league shuts - simple but avoidable.
“Let’s make this Sunday a no-incident Sunday please. I will not continue to be part of this league and sour the memory of Mr Boswell who would be so angry about recent events if poor behaviour continues - 6000 of you follow us (on Twitter), help us to get back on track.
“Finally, I am a committed football fan. I have been a manager in this league so I know every part of what you all feel. I know the majority want what I want - competitive football and sportsmanship - it’s over to you. THANK YOU.”
The move has been met with massive support on social media.
Folkestone Invicta Youth tweeted: “Great to see the Kent Youth League making a stand against a small minority and we whole heartedly support this effort.”
Luke Conlaud wrote: “You don't have to like refs if you don't want to but respect the job they do and let them actually do their job properly because without them there is NO football at any level of the game. Mistakes happen, learning from them and doing your best during the game is what counts.”
K Sports under-13s replied: “Let’s hope everyone will follow this, please remember that this is grassroots football and ultimately it’s the kids that will suffer as a result of a small minority. Let’s have a good weekend of football as you never know how long it will last in this current climate.”