Saturday League clubs will be forced to take up the whistle if a referee can’t be found for games as part of a new ruling that has been introduced.
Rule 13b has been implemented by the Saturday League, meaning if a referee can’t be found in future clubs must take charge of the games themselves or they’ll be charged with failure to fulfil a fixture.
League secretary John Orrah said: “This rule has never been enforced, but now it has to be.
“Due to dwindling referee numbers and an ageing referee population in the area, we’re getting to the point where the fixture backlog at the end of the season could be a nightmare.
“It wasn’t an easy decision, but we only have 15 active refs in Scarborough, we lose the younger ones to promotion and the older guys sometimes struggle with work commitments.
“We’re going to run a course for clubs in December, where they'll be able to
learn the basics of refereeing and managing a game.”
While North Riding County FA referee development officer Ross Joyce admits it’s down to each league if they enforce the rule or not, he admits the Scarborough Saturday League are following suit with their neighbouring leagues.
“It’s down to each league, but in fairness this is a rule that is adopted by most of the leagues in our area,” Joyce said.
“We do need people to come forward and referee, but in perspective, we appoint referees for well over 90% of games across the area.”
Although a lower percentage than the neighbouring Teesside and York leagues, 97.5% of Saturday League fixtures had an appointed referee during the 2015/16 season.
Joyce added: “Out of 447 games in the league last season, 436 had an appointed referee, so only 11 games didn’t get an official.
“I suppose the league are trying to prevent a backlog of fixtures at the end of the season by using this rule.”
Joyce will be working closely with Orrah and the Saturday League to ensure there are referee courses in the area.
The rule won’t be brought into effect by the Sunday League.
Chairman Mark Plumpton said: “We’re not going to be using this rule in the Sunday League.
“It has to be said that we have less fixtures than the Saturday League though, so it’s easier to manage any potential backlog.”
The Scarborough & District Referees Association will have a guest speaker at their meeting this evening.
Aaron Bannister will be giving a talk at the event, which starts at 7.30pm.
There’ll be an interactive presentation of match incidents at semi-pro level.
All members old and new are welcome at the meeting at the Working Mens Club on Westborough.