A Sunday football league boss has been forced to step in to back up referees and by calling on players and officials to stop giving them abuse.
Peterlee and District Sunday League secretary Bob Anderson has called for more discipline from players and club officials.
Mr Anderson, who runs Peterlee Acre Rigg Social Club, said that the people who represent the 37 teams from across the three divisions need to “get on with the game”.
Abuse has led to one referee resigning, with Mr Anderson calling for calm.
He said: “We have the best set of referees in the county and we don’t want to lose any of them.
“It is only a small minority of people who are causing concern, but it will have to stop or these people and their clubs will be put out of the league.
“I know that people can get frustrated, but at the end of the day the referees are there to get a game going.
“If it was not for the referees we wouldn’t have a league to play in so people just need to get on with the game.”
After reports of abuse towards referees and one official deciding to resign from the league, there has been a stern message from the committee that it needs to stop.
Anderson knows that the majority of teams never cause any problems and are a pleasure to have representing the league – but there are the few who are causing problems.
He added: “We have a referee scoring system on the team sheet so teams need to start using that and then it can be discussed further.
“People do not need to be getting on the referee’s back after the game because they aren’t going to change their mind.
“Lets get back to being a league that referees want to be a part of and that I am proud to say we are one of the best organisations in the area.”
It comes after the Northern League recruited “secret shoppers” to clampdown on swearing at matches.