Kicking off over swearing ‘snoopers’

FOOTBALL clubs have questioned a new scheme by league bosses to clamp down on swearing at grounds by using “secret shoppers” at games.

The Northern League will next season send mystery guests into grounds to check on the language of players and managers during games.

The campaign aims to prevent families watching from the sidelines from being exposed to offensive language.

The worst offending clubs could be named and shamed, but those who behave could be in for financial rewards.

Some clubs in the league have questioned the use of snoopers.

John Stubbs, secretary of Horden Colliery Welfare AFC, believes the big Premier League clubs should lead by example.

He said: “I think the intention is right, but I don’t think it will work in practice.

“There is a problem with referees that allow foul and abusive language.

“It is right to bring swearing to the forefront, but it should be led by the FA.

“You hear in the Premier League people swearing at referees if they can’t sort it out at the top what chance have we got at the bottom?

“Already a number of clubs have voiced concern about it at the recent league AGM.

“But it is important that we attract people into the grounds.”

Graham Craggs, secretary and treasurer of Billingham Synthonia thinks the scheme will succeed if clubs back it.

He said: “For many years the Northern League has tried to lead the way in trying to eradicate swearing which is a problem.

“If you can get rid of the problem of swearing it makes it a nicer place to go and watch football.

“Clubs have got to take responsibility for the players.”

But Peter Martin, vice chairman of Billingham Town, said in his experience swearing was not a major problem at grounds.

He said: “Most of the clubs have been cutting down on it for a few years.

“We are trying to make the game more family-orientated.

“It is a game where tension builds up and if players play bad they can lose it for a couple of minutes.

“But over the years I think we have only had a problem with one opposition manager.”

League chairman, Mike Amos, said: “If you go to a Premier League game with 50,000 people there and players and the management are effing and blinding you can’t hear it.

“But if you are at a game with 100 people in the ground you can hear.”

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