Introducing 10-minute sin bins in football can only benefit the sport as it has done in rugby. Yes there still are decisions around yellow cards that bring debate and even controversy but in the main it's been a plus. Plans to trial sin bins for cynical fouls and dissent in professional football were revealed this week and I think it’s a good idea which will help clamp down on something which we are seeing more and more of at the top level of the game - which then influences football at all levels all the way down to the grass roots.

One thing we are seeing over the past few seasons is a lack of respect. We see it in everyday life and even more so in sport, and in football in particular. Rugby has in recent years been managing to keep on top of it; we’ve seen players banned or fined and the sport has largely been able to deal with dissent and abuse, but those boundaries are being challenged and pushed in rugby too.

Football has been struggling to deal with those issues and when you don’t set a precedent at the top level it filters down through all levels. Football has more influence on society and everyday life than any other sport due to its popularity all over the world. People, including young children, idolise their heroes who they see on TV. If players or managers abuse referees then Joe Public will think it’s OK for them to do the same.

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So bringing in a 10-minute sin bin gives referees an extra tool to deal with cynical play and dissent. When yellow cards were first brought into rugby it increased the need for referees to be consistent because there were more decisions to be made which could have a huge impact on the game. Football - if the sin bin plan is brought in - will have to make sure that there is consistency in decisions. I’ve always thought the aim as a referee is to be consistent for that 80 or 90 minutes. The fact that you might be slightly different to another referee officiating a different game the following week doesn’t really matter - you have to be consistent with your own decision-making.

If anything, I think it will work better in football because it’s a simpler sport than rugby in terms of the laws of the game. If you look at a high tackle in rugby, for example, there are three possible levels of punishment: a penalty, a yellow card or a red card. In football, if someone raises a hand into someone else’s face it’s quite simple, that’s a red card, so the rules are clearer and more ‘black and white’ than they are in rugby. That’s why on the whole I think it’s an idea that will benefit football and even add more excitement to it if one team is temporarily down to 10 men or even nine men - it will add to the drama to see how teams cope with the change in circumstances which is different to losing a player for the rest of the match as we see with a red card.

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But respect of course is a two-way thing. I like to think I always spoke to players whom I refereed with respect, in the way I would want to be spoken to. There has been a debate over the past week after Owen Farrell spoke to referee Luke Pearce in a Gallagher Premiership match and asked him not to be rude to him. It’s difficult to have too much of an opinion on that without knowing the full context of what was said before and in what tone things were said in, but I certainly had players challenge me and speak to me during my career and I like to think I dealt with them in a respectful way.

When I had to penalise players I would never do so with a smile or in a joking manner because at that moment they are in the heat of battle and they might be frustrated or angry with the decision. It’s important to be friendly and respectful as a referee but it’s equally important to have boundaries between yourself and the players. I see some referees today calling players by their first names or even calling them “mate”. I got to know players over the years and I’ve been very good friends with some outside the game but when you’re on the pitch you need that boundary between ref and player, so it’s about getting that respectful balance right.

I think the issue of dissent in rugby has been kept in check since the introduction of the sin bin and of course not forgetting the 10 meters on too, and I think the sin bin can have the same impact in professional football. No matter what you do at the grass roots level, you’re not going to be able to eradicate abuse and dissent until you set the standards at the very top.