Updated: Friday, 17th November 2017 @ 12:59pm

INTERVIEW: Manchester Respect League hit back at FA '12 rules' claims critics

INTERVIEW: Manchester Respect League hit back at FA '12 rules' claims critics

| By Max Chesterton

Reports that the FA will use Manchester junior football leagues to pioneer a new ‘12 rules’ scheme are false.

The news has come after several media outlets including The Mirror and The Manchester Evening News, reported that the FA is set to roll out a new set of rules that include the banning of slide tackling and preventing both parents and coaches from shouting from the side-lines.

Rumours arose after this image was posted on social media, receiving hundreds of shares from beleaguered football fans angered by the alleged alterations in grassroots football.

However, it transpires that the rules actually originate from the old website of Manchester based junior football league – Respect League.

The image was posted on their website over four years ago as a guideline for how teams and coaches should conduct themselves on and off the pitch in their innovative youth football league.

And whilst Respect League still adheres to the ‘12 rules’ principles, including outlawing slide tackling and maintaining the retreat line from goal kicks, other elements such as referees awarding marks to players, coaches and spectators from both teams, are no longer enforced.

Over the last two days, Twitter users have taken to the platform to criticise the fundamentals that the Respect League is built upon, particularly over the concept of having mixed teams and banning slide tackling.

Today a spokesperson for Respect League spoke to MM about the backlash they have received over the inventive concepts which the league is based upon.

The spokesperson said: “I have played football for all my life, I used to play with someone who played for England and people that have been putting these comments out there think we are idiots.

“You don’t have to play in our league. We are just trying to put some guidelines in there. We don’t have people monitoring every single step.”

The prohibition of slide tackling has been seen as a particular source of discontent, but Respect League believes this form of tackling is not needed in the junior game.

The spokesperson said: “If you saw a kid at 7 or 8 years old and a bit of a clumsy challenge goes in, you get parents and coaches up in arms.

"We are just trying to cut that out and keep kids on their feet and learn the basics before they go recklessly challenging with slide tackles.”

He added that slide tackling is allowed for players at Under 14 level and that most games are played on a 3G surface, making sliding challenges a further safety hazard.

And whilst many have rushed to condemn the league’s principles, nobody has commended the league for its new avant-garde tournament structure that it has developed – named the ‘circle league’.

Teams are divided into a group of four, which is divided into a league that resembles a pie chart. They then play three games, after which the two top sides move clockwise in the circle and the bottom sides move anti-clockwise, which is continued.

The Respect League spokesperson said: “Rather than having junior teams that are sat in the league for a year either winning too easily or being beaten too easily, this way filters teams quite quickly, so that your games are more interesting.

“There is all this good stuff that we are doing that nobody is seeing. That is more ground breaking.”

Furthermore, while competitiveness is not encouraged, Respect League pointed out that one of the league’s sides, Broughton Community Juniors U14s, were able to lift the Manchester FA Boys Youth Cup last year, showing the strength of their league.

The Respect League – which won the 2014 FA Community Awards League of the Year – was established in 2011 as a way of promoting fair play on and off the pitch, with an initial 28 teams competing at under 7s and under 8s level.

Despite its critics, the popularity of the league is increasingly growing with over 230 teams now competing, as well as including a futsal league.

For more information on Respect League, check out their website: http://respectleague.co.uk/

Image courtesy of JC.Winkler via Flickr, with thanks.