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Sadly this will be the first Villa v Newcastle match I have missed in a very long time, but I'm working.

From what I've seen this season Villa are a hard working team who can score goals particularly through Benteke and they have a tough uncompromising manager. Problem is they can't defend set pieces.

Given that we are practically clueless at all forms of set pieces I don't see this as much as a problem for Villa in this match.

Big guessing game is what will be the starting line up for this match.

I'm thinking that Pardew as cautious and negative as ever will maybe go for three of our five new players to start, being Debuchy, Yanga-Mbiwa and Sissoko. So a likely team being:
Debuchy     Yanga-Mbiwa   Coloccini   Santon
         Anita           Cabaye         Sissoko
Marveaux                                      Gutierrez

Team looks much stronger than of late though you have to say very light in the striker department. A bit of a worry I would say.

Boosted by our five new signings though previously I hadn't heard of any of them. Might take a while for them to bed in and Villa are not as bad as their results would have you believe, they just can't defend

Aston Villa 2 Newcastle 2


This is probably the Olympic equivalent of Sir Chris Hoy getting off his bike and kicking a paralympic rider to the ground for being too slow.

It's quite ridiculous, why has Hazard tackled the ball boy to get the ball off him and then kicks him to get him off it.

Then the knock on fighting amongst the players and the red card.

This has got to be the most ridiculous incident now being broadcast across the world as a major event.

The football itself is no longer getting the headlines, it's become a soap opera based around a loosely competitive competition which has become anything but fair and sporting.

Here is the video of the "assault" which could also be labelled Ballboy makes a meal of it after tussle with Hazard:

With only a light dusting of snow in Newcastle overnight the game is certain to go ahead.

The fact that Newcastle have beaten Reading on all previous 7 occasions we have played them at home is off set by the fact that we have only won 3 matches of the 17 we have had since Pardew signed his eight year contract and Reading have won 2 of their last 3 matches. However Reading do have the worst away record in all four divisions having just gained 2 draws from away matches so far and have lost their last 6 away matches.

Injured players are beginning to wind their way back with Cabaye likely to start this week and Steven Taylor likely to be on the bench.

Having Stephen Taylor back alongside Coloccini will make a great difference to our defence if we can just keep him fit for the rest of the season.

Shola Ameobi is back too though I think Pardew will stick to his plan of playing Cisse up front as the lone striker.

After rumours of dressing room divisions over the handling of Demba Ba this season one hopes we will build on last weeks fighting draw at Norwich with a convincing win here. Likely team here which is beginning to look much stronger :

Debuchy      Williamson    Coloccini     Santon
            Perch       Cabaye          Anita
Marveaux                                       Gutierrez


Well we have Shola back, a close tense affair, but a win for me :

Newcastle 2 Reading 1

Chris Hughton gets another chance to get one over on Newcastle though you feel he is above that sort of thing and just desperately needs the points to secure Norwich's status.

We have players too'ing and fro'ing:

Tiote is off to Africa Cup, Shola is not going to Africa Cup but is suspended after his disorders at Brighton, looks like Perch could be out injured.

Coloccini and Cisse are back as well as new signing right back Debuchy, lets hope he settles in quickly.

After the Brighton performance it's hard to see who deserves to be picked for this match.

So likely team for a long journey down to East Anglia assuming Perch is not fit:

Debuchy    Williamson   Collocini    Santon
Obertan      Anita    Bigimirani        Marveaux 
                 Sammi Ameobi


Norwich are doing ok under Chris Hughton, well better than we are anyway:

Norwich 2 Newcastle 1


Well this would not happen in Rugby would it. The Video ref could review this in two seconds and disallow the goal.

However in football the poor referee and his assistants missed the incident and with no technical back up to call on had the FA Cup match between Mansfield Town and Liverpool decided by a blatant handball from the cheating Luis Saurez.

Views from a reader say it all :

colin washington (Newsfrom Washington)3 hours ago

This is absolutely disgusting when a game is won by a cheat. Do not the FA care about fair play ? they seem to care more about rubbish racial abuse than the game they supposed to run and regulate. I can only assume they don't watch any football and don't give two hoots about fair results, if they condone cheating this is not the game for them to regulate and they are not the idiots we want to see in control. Time for resignations.

Thought this was an interesting read.

Newcastle actually have 3 players in the Premier League top 10 Joey Barton, Duncan Ferguson and Nikos Dabizas.

also shows that actually the number of red cards given despite the recent fuss has been pretty consistent over the last 5 years i.e. has not risen at all despite various so called referee clampdowns.

Who gets the most red cards in the Premier League?
The combative attitude of football players in the English Premier League has cultivated a reputation for physicality and roughness that fascinates and repulses the watching public in equal measure. This article will name and shame the players who have received the most red cards in Premier League history.

Videos and statistics will be provided for each player in the top 10 (where available). Unlike other lists, the number of appearances made by the players is taken into consideration. The important measure in this list is `red cards per game' or red card rate. Only players with more than 5 red cards in the Premier League are included.

Referees brandish a little over 60 red cards in 380 matches every Premier League season (see table below). That is about one red card every six games. With 22 players on the pitch, football players should expect to be sent off every 132 appearances (1/132). Unfortunately, some fall a long way short of this standard, collecting red cards that affect results, cause injury, and destroy the sporting spirit that makes the beautiful game the spectacle it is.

Total Red Cards: Premier League
Red Cards (2 Yellow)
Straight Red Cards
With about 60 red cards handed out every season, the average football player receives a red card every 132 matches. As we shall see, many players fail to meet this standard.

10. Joey Barton
Red Cards: 5
Appearances: 227
Red Card Rate: 1 / 45 (1 red card every 45 appearances)
Joey Barton is possibly the most hated football player of all time. His red cards rarely come from genuine attempts to get the ball, or even reckless attempts to knock someone off the ball. Barton lashes out at players off the ball. He is a thug who should never be allowed on a football pitch.

Don Hutchison
9. Don Hutchison
Red Cards: 5
Appearances: 220
Red Card Rate: 1 / 44
Don Hutchison's Premier League career lasted from 1992 until 2005. He wasn't a particularly dirty player, but in his own words, he did "get stuck in". Don't let that fool you though, he was sacked from West Ham in 1996 for getting his genitals out in front of a camera during an infamous drunken incident.

8. Patrick Vieira
Red Cards: 8
Appearances: 307
Red Card Rate: 1 / 38
Patrick Vieira was a midfield enforcer for Arsenal between 1996 and 2005. He returned for Manchester City in the 2010-11 season. Vieira's size and his willingness to get stuck into the tackle resulted in him being sent off 8 times. He also had numerous spats with Roy Keane (see video).

7. Duncan Ferguson
Red Cards: 8
Appearances: 269
Red Card Rate: 1 / 34
Much like Joey Barton, Duncan Ferguson was a true thug. He terrorized defenders between 1994 and 2006. Many of his fouls came from horrendous, injury causing tackles, or off the ball incidents. In the video he can be seen headbutting another player.

6. Franck Queudrue
Red Cards: 6
Appearances: 195
Red Card Rate: 1 / 33
Franck Queudrue's Premier League career lasted from 2001 to 2010, playing for Middlesborough, Fulham and Birmingham. During the 2002-2003 season he received 3 red cards for reckless challenges. On a lighter note, he scored one of the best own goals ever during his time in the French League (see video).

5. Vinnie Jones
Red Cards: 6
Appearances: 184
Red Card Rate: 1 / 31
Vinnie Jones' Premier League career lasted from 1992-1998. Before the Premier League emerged, he had already been sent off 6 times, bringing his career total to 12. He holds the record for the quickest ever yellow card, at 3 seconds. After retiring from football, Vinnie brought his hard-man persona to the silver screen.

Nikos Dabizas
Source: BBC
4. Nikos Dabizas
Red Cards: 5
Appearances: 148
Red Card Rate: 1 / 30
Nikos Dabizas played for Newcastle and Leicester between 1998 and 2005. Not a particularly aggressive player, Dabizas had a penchant for handling the ball, resulting in at least two of his red cards. In one match, Dabizas was sent off after less than 4 minutes for a handball offense.

3. Lee Cattermole
Red Cards: 6
Appearances: 174
Red Card Rate: 1 / 29
Lee Cattermole is the master of dirty challenges. With 6 red cards by the age of 24, he stands to become the most red carded player in history (the record is 8). Remarkably, 5 of those red cards came in the space of 72 appearances for Sunderland. He even received a red card after the final whistle of a match in 2012 for confronting the referee.

Frank Leboeuf
2. Frank Leboeuf
Red Cards: 5
Appearances: 144
Red Card Rate: 1 / 29
Frank Leboeuf was a notoriously slow central defender who played for Chelsea between 1996 and 2001. When players got past him, his usual reaction was to chop them down from behind. What's more, on at least two occasions he was sent off for stamping on his victim's ankle.

1. John Hartson
Red Cards: 6
Appearances: 156
Red Card Rate: 1 / 26
Between 1995 and 2001 John Hartson left a trail of destruction in the Premier League. After being sent off in 1997, Hartson accused the referee of being "a homer". In 1998 he was red carded for striking another player, and was sent off again 7 matches later. In 1999 he was red carded for elbowing another player. In 1999 and 2000, Hartson was sent off twice for using foul and abusive language towards referees.

Off the field, he was given a conditional discharge for breaking a basket outside of a pub. Most shocking of all, he kicked a team-mate in the face during a training session (see video). For this incident he was fined 20 thousand pounds and banned for 3 matches. He has also had bust-ups with managers, Bruce Rioch and Bobby Gould. Despite all this, his reputation appears to be largely undamaged, and he regularly appears as a TV pundit.

Notable Red Card Recipients
An obvious omission from this list is Roy Keane. However, Keane's 7 red cards were received in 366 appearances giving him a red card rate of 1/52. Other notable absentees are Alan Smith (1/48), Martin Keown (1/54), Dennis Wise (1/56), and Lee Bowyer (1/79).

As well as Lee Cattermole, there are some players who are moving swiftly up the red card rankings. One familiar name is Mario Balotelli, who has 3 red cards from just 49 appearances (1/16). With two more red cards, Balotelli will undoubtedly enter this list at number one. Another familiar name is Ryan Shawcross, who currently has a red card rate of 1/47.

It is worth naming and shaming the players who ruin our enjoyment of the beautiful game. So thanks for reading and watching this stats and video compilation for the `top 10 most red cards' in the Premier League!

Footballing Resources
Statbunker - Football statistics
Data from this source was used to calculate red card rates. :: All about football
Data from this source was used to calculate the total number of red cards given by referees.

Kevin-Prince Boateng says he will walk off the pitch again if he is racially abused, regardless of which match it is. 

UEFA opened the door for this by their lenient treatment of the disgraceful scenes after the racial abuse and fighting the England players had to put up with in their Under 21 Championship play off in Serbia. 

AC Milan's former midfielder Gennaro Gattuso has controversially downplayed the incident.
'I've lived 5km away from Busto Arsizio for years and that area is full of foreigners. There are no racists in Busto.
'What happened yesterday was the fault of a group of imbeciles. How many times have there been boos against white players in the past? It's happened to me to but I didn't give it any importance.
'Boateng certainly felt he was offended but I continue to not see it as racism. It just seems to be the latest episode of collective idiocy from a minority.
'If we are convinced that there is a racism problem then strong decisions need to be made. I, however, continue to believe that Italy is not a racist country.'

Graham Taylor's view is of benefit to protect the players:
'The racist abuse should be reported to the match officials by the player and team captain, and then the crowd warned if the racist abuse continues the match will be abandoned.
'If the abuse does continue then the officials should abandon the game. The warning will also be an opportunity for responsible fans to influence those who are perpetrating the abuse.'

Well you can't have players walking off because they don't like what the fans are doing. We all know where that will lead when a team is losing a match.

The only solution is tough penalties and tough stewarding of matches.

What a sorry mess this is.

Boateng: I will storm off during Champions League game if I'm racially abused again
PUBLISHED: 17:53, 4 January 2013 | UPDATED: 18:09, 4 January 2013
Comments (0)
Kevin-Prince Boateng insists he will walk off the pitch during a Champions League match if he is racially abused again.
The AC Milan midfielder led his team-mates from the field on Thursday after black players were subjected to racist abuse during a friendly at fourth division side Pro Patria.
The former Tottenham and Portsmouth forward kicked the ball into the crowd after 26 minutes of the goalless match in Busto Arsizio, 20 miles north-west of Milan, then took off his shirt and marched off the field with the rest of his team.
One 20-year-old fan was charged by police after admitting involvement in the chants, and five more have been identified.
Scroll down for video

Fury: Kevin-Prince Boateng (right) gestures to the crowd before walking off after being racially abused

選 don稚 care what game it is - a friendly, Italian league or Champions League match -- I would walk off again,' Boateng told CNN.
選知 sad and angry that I知 the one that has to take action. All the people who support me would support me in a big game. Players like Rio Ferdinand and Patrick Vieira have supported me and I just want to say thank you.
選f it happens again I知 not going to play anymore. The referee said: 泥on稚 worry but I said I do worry, it痴 not very nice.
選 was angry and I was sad, but it all came together and I said I don稚 want to play anymore. There were so many negative emotions that came up with me.
選知 surprised we池e still hearing these things in 2013. It痴 not the first time in my life that I致e heard these things, but I知 25 now and I致e had enough of this.
The match was abandoned as Milan decided to send out a 壮trong signal after Boateng and three other black players M達aye Niang, Urby Emanuelson and former Portsmouth midfielder Sulley Muntari were subjected to monkey chants from a section of the crowd, who continued their abuse despite being told to stop by the stadium announcer.

Final straw: Boateng admitted he had endured enough racist abuse and wanted to make a stand
Meanwhile, AC Milan's president Silvio Berlusconi has claimed his players will always walk off the pitch in future in protest at racist abuse - but PFA chief Gordon Taylor insists it should be the referee who abandons the match.
Berlusconi has congratulated Kevin-Prince Boateng after he who walked off the pitch yesterday during a friendly against Italian fourth-tier side Pro Patria, followed by his team-mates, after several players were racially abused.
Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, said the onus should not be on players to take such drastic action.
He said: 'The racist abuse should be reported to the match officials by the player and team captain, and then the crowd warned if the racist abuse continues the match will be abandoned.
'If the abuse does continue then the officials should abandon the game. The warning will also be an opportunity for responsible fans to influence those who are perpetrating the abuse.'
Boateng, the Ghana international who previously played for Portsmouth and Tottenham, has been widely praised for his action in the 26th minute of Milan's match against fourth-tier side Pro Patria.

Game over: Boateng and Sulley Muntari (below) eaves the changing rooms as he walks past Pro Patria players

Berlusconi has made it clear that Milan are prepared to take similar action in any other game, including European matches.
He said in a statement: 'I called Kevin-Prince Boateng a little while ago and I congratulated him for his reaction against the disgraceful episode of racism that took place in the stadium of Pro Patria in Busto Arsizio.
'I am very happy by Milan's reaction and be assured that in all games where we experience episodes of this kind, Milan will leave the field.'
That could put Milan at loggerheads with FIFA and UEFA, who have previously warned against players taking such action.
FIFA would not comment directly on the Boateng incident but a spokesman said in a competitive match the referee would report the incident and then the disciplinary committee of the competition's organisers would make a decision.
The spokesman said: 'It would be for the referee to report and the disciplinary committee would have to look into it.'

I'd do it again! Boateng insists he would leave the field in a Champions League clash
Italy has long had a problem with racist abuse from fans but Milan's former midfielder Gennaro Gattuso, now playing in Switzerland with Sion, has controversially downplayed the incident.
The former Rangers player told the Corriere della Sera: 'I've lived 5km away from Busto Arsizio for years and that area is full of foreigners. There are no racists in Busto.
'What happened yesterday was the fault of a group of imbeciles. How many times have there been boos against white players in the past? It's happened to me to but I didn't give it any importance.
'Boateng certainly felt he was offended but I continue to not see it as racism. It just seems to be the latest episode of collective idiocy from a minority.
'If we are convinced that there is a racism problem then strong decisions need to be made. I, however, continue to believe that Italy is not a racist country.'

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As one of the readers said, he needs a brain scan if he thinks joining Newcastle is a good idea  :)

But a serious question here, why would he choose to come to Newcastle when he is a French international. In fact he sounds very excited about it:

Debuchy said: 'It is great to become a Newcastle United player. After many great years at Lille I felt I was ready for a new challenge, and cannot wait to play for such a big club in the best league in the world.
'I hope I can bring something fresh to the team and help us get up to the highest possible position in the Premier League this season. 'I will give everything for this club.

His close friend is Yohan Cabaye but that would not be enough to make him choose Newcastle.

Would be interested to know what size contract he is on. I would guess around 」1.5 to 」2 million a year ??

He could probably earn more elsewhere ?

Lets hope he settles into the Premier League quickly !
Newcastle have completed the signing of French defender Mathieu Debuchy from Lille for an undisclosed fee.
The 27-year-old has signed a five-and-a-half year deal at St James Park after passing his medical and agreeing personal terms.
The right back made more than 230 appearances for Lille during a nine-year senior spell at the club, having come up through the youth ranks of his local side.

He has been a regular for Les Dogues over the last few seasons, helping them to a league and cup double in 2011.
The move means he will link up again with former club team-mate, international colleague and close friend Yohan Cabaye.
Debuchy said: 'It is great to become a Newcastle United player. After many great years at Lille I felt I was ready for a new challenge, and cannot wait to play for such a big club in the best league in the world.
'I hope I can bring something fresh to the team and help us get up to the highest possible position in the Premier League this season. 'I will give everything for this club.

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew said: 糎e are absolutely delighted to have finally secured the signature of Mathieu.
'It痴 no secret we致e been trailing him for some time now and to have reached this point fills me with great excitement and anticipation in respect of what he will be able to offer the team.
'At the same time it痴 a huge relief to actually have him with us now.
'He is an established top international player and it is a real coup for this Club that we now have him at St. James Park.
'Mathieu will add real quality to our team, in terms of his ability, character and experience and I am sure he will quickly become a firm favourite among our fans too.'

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Brighton's form has been patchy of late but I really hope they turn it on and dump us out of the FA Cup quickly and leave us to concentrate on our relegation battle.

As Craig said last night, we have a crucial away match at Villa on the Tuesday night following the 4th round of the FA Cup, so we could do without being in that.

A team looking something like this would do me, if anyone could suggest a couple of reserve defenders we could throw in to make up the numbers:

Tavernia          ???        ????           Ferguson
Sammi Ameobi    Abeid    Bigirimani   Amalfitamo 
                  Ranger    Campbell

I'm hoping we field the junior team out here and really hope the kids can beat Brighton and give us a cup run however:

Brighton 3 Newcastle 1

Amazing that lifelong Arsenal fan David Milliband is paid 」125k for 15 days work since February 2011. That's equivalent of 」2.1 million a year, more than some of their players.

I did like this comment from a Mackem fan:

To be fair, despite his many faults, Miliband is a better defender than Brambell & prob less injury prone than Saha
- Paul , London, 01/1/2013 15:33

Sunderland pay Miliband more than Saha! Labour MP earns 」125,000 for 15 days' work
PUBLISHED: 13:07, 1 January 2013 | UPDATED: 13:24, 1 January 2013
Comments (7)
David Miliband is raking in the equivalent of 」42,000 a week from Sunderland, more than the Black Cats' 」40,000-a-week striker Louis Saha.
The former foreign secretary has earned 」125,000 for 15 days work since becoming a director of the Stadium of Light club in February 2011.
That痴 the equivalent of nearly 」42,000 a week, or more than 」2.1million a year.

David Miliband earns the equivalent of 」42,000 a week from Sunderland FC since becoming a director of football last year

This pro-rata figure is higher than defender Titus Bramble's 」30,000-a-week deal and even surpasses that of France international Saha.
In total, the South Shields Labour MP has registered nearly 」1million of outside earnings since the 2010 Labour election.
After losing the Labour leadership to his younger brother Ed, Mr Miliband went on to make 」985,315 from the public speaking circuit and his work as an adviser.
The figure, drawn from the register of MPs interests, includes hospitality, travel and gifts.
But critics have questioned Mr Miliband痴 focus since losing the leadership contest. They say he has become a ghost-like figure at Westminster, attending fewer than half the votes in the Commons chamber and speaking in just 11 debates in one year.
Mr Miliband has found time to attend international summits and embark on speaking engagements.
He has made nearly 」65,000 from the United Arab Emirates ministry of foreign affairs, and nearly 」83,000 from the London Speaker Bureau.
Energy Investment firm VantagePoint Capital Partners has paid Mr Miliband close to 」117,000 for consultancy work.
The money is on top of his MP痴 salary of 」65,000. Mr Miliband痴 earnings dwarf those of his constituents, who averaged just 」19,281 last year.
Sunderland FC appointed Mr  Miliband last February, despite the senior MP being a life-long supporter of Arsenal.

Wages: David Miliband pro rata salary is more than Saha, left, and defender Titus Bramble, right
The club, which made a 」6.2 million loss last year, is at risk of relegation after poor performances.
Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps questioned whether Mr Miliband provided value for money.
He said: 糎ith a fee like that you壇 expect to see David Miliband on the pitch! Per appearance, he痴 on a par with players like Saha. Sunderland should red card this behaviour.
A spokesman for Mr Miliband said: 前utside earnings are submitted to the register of members interests which is rightly available to the  public to view.

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This article in the Daily Mail caused quite a heated response from Premier League followers all pretty united in their view.

Everyone is mightily sick of seeing players and managers haranguing officials.

The answer suggested is simply to follow the Premier League Rugby model:
- only the captain is allowed to talk to the referee
- teams are punished with a ten yard penalty for dissent
- mike up the officials so we can clearly hear what is being said

All sounds very easy, here's the views of a couple of readers:

Agree with Matt from Cardiff, only team captains should be allowed to approach the referee to ask why a decision has been made. Maybe they should also call the referee sir like we had to playing amateur rugby(OK mabe too much!). It's amazing how fast you learned to keep your mouth shut when your team was marched back 10 yards when you spoke before being spoken too. One thing that has really turned me off football in the modern era is the way players like Wayne Rooney hound and snarl at the referee like school ground bullies when they think the ref has made a mistake or they aren't getting the decisions.
- Spooky13, Manchester, United Kingdom, 1/1/2013 13:51

Take a leaf out of Rugby Union - 10 yards for dissent.use the forth official effectively as a video ref - if any confusions 'is there any reason that I can not award the goal!' It's all so simple. The stakes are so much higher in the modern game of football but our controls are farcical and totally out of date. Come on catch up - why are the FA frightened to move forward. It's made rugby exciting for crowds. Goal or no goal!!!
- Steve, Cardiff, 1/1/2013 10:21

EXCLUSIVE: FA tell referees to demand more respect from players and coaches
PUBLISHED: 22:31, 31 December 2012 | UPDATED: 08:48, 1 January 2013
Comments (53)
The FA have fired a New Year warning across football that their ailing Respect campaign must be stepped up.
A communique sent to clubs and referees - seen by Sportsmail - urges: 'Still a great deal of work to do.'
It is significant from the tone that match officials are expected to take a tougher line on dissent, and runs contrary to the leniency shown by referee Mike Dean when Sir Alex Ferguson laid into him and his team of officials on Boxing Day.

Hard line: The FA wants its officials to work closely with club captains to save its ailing Respect campaign

Referees have been reminded to draw captains into the front line of the battle against any shows of disrespect to officials, as they were instructed to do when the initiative started.

Among the set of reinforced guidelines, referees are urged to:
Work with captains even if they are 'some way from an incident'
Use captains in a 'more visible way'
Deal firmly with dissent and 'not move away from it'.

So determined are FA chiefs to improve behaviour that they have even laid down what they call their Fair Play Handshake Protocol - which uses diagrams to show how teams should line-up for the pre-match ceremony.
Handshakes, or the lack of them, have damaged the Respect initiative amid the racism rows involving John Terry and Anton Ferdinand and Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra.

Tirade: Sir Alex Ferguson berated Mike Dean during Manchester United's win over Newcastle

Visible: Referees should not shy away from dealing with dissent on the pitch

The FA have told referees and clubs that since its launch in 2008 Respect has 'generally been accepted very favourably' but that much has to be done to get it 'embedded in everyone's thinking including managers, players and referees'.
Captains such as controversial Chelsea skipper Terry are expected to take a higher profile to help officials 'manage the players and the game effectively'.

John Terry, talking to Mark Halsey. will be expected to take a higher profile role with referees

Terry hasn't always enjoyed a good relationship with officials. Here he is beckoning Sportsmail's Graham Poll before his retirement.
But the onus is mostly on the referees who, say the FA, need to 'play a leading role' to ensure that 'the authority and respect for match officials is reinforced'.
They are also warned not to back away from confrontation but to 'stay and deal with it' by cautioning offenders.

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