THE Football Association has announced that temporary dismissals will be introduced across all levels of grass roots football in Northumberland this season.

Better known as sin bins, which have been the norm in rugby for years, they will see players dismissed for 10 minutes in adult football, and for shorter periods in youth matches.

Referees will use the new rule as a sanction for dissent, in a move which the FA hopes will reduce verbal outbursts, and discourage players from contesting referees’ decisions.

An FA statement said: “We piloted sin bins during the 2017/18 season, and then extended this to a total of 31 leagues throughout the 2018/19 season as part of the FA’s commitment to improve the matchday experience for all.

“After gathering positive feedback from players, referees and coaches, sin bins will now be rolled out across all leagues at grassroots level in a bid to increase participation and to continue improving match day experiences.”

Local referee Peter Fletcher, who is chairman of the Hexham Branch of the Northumberland Referees’ Association, said the change will bring back memories of a previous era. John Pickworth used sin bins during his matches in the 1980s and 1990s, when officials had more freedom to use their own discretion.

“It was very much a different era then,” said Peter. “John Pickworth introduced it 20 or 30 years ago, and I think it worked well.

“It was all about calming down a player who perhaps became a bit hot under the collar. Sending them to the sidelines temporarily would calm down a player, who could return to the action in a different frame of mind. It will be interesting to see how it works out this season.”

There will be other rule changes this season, with attacking players no longer able to stand very close to, or even join, a defensive wall for free kicks, on grounds that there is no tactical justification for doing so.

In some handball situations, free kicks will be awarded even if the handball was accidental, even in cases when a player falls and his hand or arm come into contact with the ball. Peter was keen to remind footballers who require glasses that they can obtain specialist eyewear.

He explained: “For safety reasons, players haven’t been able to wear glasses on the field of play.

“But you can get sports glasses and I think they are a worthy investment for anyone who needs them.”

The next meeting of the Hexham branch of the Northumberland Referees’ Association will take place on Monday, September 16, at the County Hotel in Hexham.