The Memories & Spirit of the Game, as only Ken Aston could teach it...
Enjoy, your journey here on...
Andrew Castiglione
Founder of Ken Aston Referee Society

Hit Counter
Part 1. B-ench Laws’.

Part 2. E-xtra Hidden Details.

Part 3. N-uisance Factor.

Part 4. C-ommon Sense.

Part 5. H-ow to Assist.

This page refers particularly to matches played in stadium...
with a designated seated area for technical staff and substitutes.


1a. The Technical Area details as shown in the Laws of Associated Football are as follows:

Law 3 Decision 2.

A team official may convey tactical instructions to the players during the match and must return to his position immediately after giving these instructions. All team officials must remain within the confines of the technical area, where such an area is provided and they must behave in a responsible manner.

Different team officials during the match provided the person returns to his or her position after giving these instructions and behaves in a responsible manner may give tactical instructions.

Technical areas may vary between stadium, for example in their size or location. The following notes are issued for general guidance.

- The technical area extends 1 m (1 yd) on either side of the designated seated area and extends forwards up to a distance of 1 m (1 yd) from the touchline.

- It is recommended that markings are used to define this area.

- The number of persons permitted to occupy the technical area is defined by the competition rules.

- The occupants of the technical area are identified before the beginning of the match in accordance with the competition rules.

- Only one person at a time is authorized to convey tactical instructions and they must return to their position immediately after giving these instruction.

- The coach and other officials must remain within the confines of the technical area except in special circumstances, for example, a physiotherapist or doctor entering the field of play, with the referee’s permission, to assess an injured player.

- The coach and other occupants of the technical area must behave in a responsible manner.


The following details can also relate to grounds where there is no specifically marked ‘Technical Area’.

2a. Although competition rules should state exactly who is allowed in the ‘Technical Area’, invariably they don’t - and you will have to use your common sense. Luckily, most ‘Benches’ can only ‘just about’ contain the substitutes and a manager.

2b. Again, use your common sense if there are no markings to define the ‘Technical Area’.

2c. A Referee - from the moment they step onto the field of play before the start of a game, to the end of the game, including any half time or extra-time intervals - can Red/Yellow card a substitute. They can also report - at any time - misconduct committed by a Club Official, who can then be instructed (under the Referees' Powers, Law 5) to leave the ‘dug-out’ to an area away from the touch-line and the near vicinity of the field of play. If a person responsible for treating the needs of the players is disciplined, they may be allowed to stay within the ‘Technical Area’ - to administer any treatment during the game.

2d. It can sometimes be very difficult to identify whether a person within the ‘Technical Area’ is an official or just a supporter. Be polite when enquiring.

2e. The Referee can make the ‘Fourth Official’ responsible for ‘looking after’ the ‘Bench’, this could include the management of substitutions throughout the game, and controlling and bringing to the Referee’s attention any misconduct emanating from the ‘Bench’. If the Referee wishes to make the Fourth Official’ responsible for the ‘Bench’, then they should inform the substitutes and officials of this decision. This then allows the Assistant Referee on that side of the field of play to concentrate fully on the game and allows for greater observation and control of the ‘Bench’ area by the Fourth Official. The Fourth Official assists the Referee at all times. He must indicate to the Referee if a wrong player is cautioned because of mistaken identity or when a player is not sent off having been seen to be given a second caution or when violent conduct occurs out of the view of the referee and Assistant Referees. This increases the authority of the Fourth Official and allows him to take action in situations not concerned with actual play. The Referee, however, retains the authority to decide on all points connected with play.

2f. Tell the ‘Bench’ to let you (the Assistant Referee) know when a substitution is required. Raise and hold your flag above your head, when the ball goes out of play, to attract the Referee’s attention. The outgoing player must be off the field of play before the substitute can enter at the halfway line. Ensure that you have a list of the nominated substitutes before the game commences. Make a note of the ongoing substitutes names and numbers.


The Referee should brief their Assistant Referees on how to manage the ‘Bench’.

Referees Instructions could contain the following:

3a. "Ignore the usual banter from the ‘Bench’ but bring to my attention any very bad language such as usage of the ‘F’ & ‘C’ words particularly directed at the Referee, Assistant Referee or players, clearly aimed at destroying the game or inciting the players. Remember exactly what was said. Attract my attention at the next stoppage in play, by raising your flag and stepping onto the field of play. I will then consult with you away from others. If I need to approach the ‘Bench’ we will do so together. You will stand alongside me, facing the field of play with your back to the ‘Bench’, keeping an eye on the players on the field of play. I will do all the talking, but listen for any reaction which may need to be mentioned in any report."

3b. "You (the Assistant Referee) can control the person(s) giving instruction to players; but this must only be one person at a time, who must then return to their position after giving any instruction."

3c. "Do not get distracted by looking towards the ‘Bench’- wait until there is a natural stoppage in play. Be absolutely certain who is involved in any misconduct - and exactly what was said or done if you wish to consult me. I (the Referee) can give a general warning or may report any serious ‘Bench’ misconduct if you (the Assistant Referee) are unable to see exactly who the culprit is."

3d. A Club is responsible for its spectators and should take action to ensure their good behavior. On no account should the Referee or the Assistant Referee approach or react to spectators directly. Use the Club officials or at the very least - the team captain to resolve any problems. The ‘Assistant Referee’ will need to learn how to switch-off completely from the ‘crowd (and sometimes the ‘Bench’, to enable full concentration to be given to the game itself; this can be difficult.


4a. It's up to the individual Referee, as to which touchline his Assistant Referees run. There is nothing in the Laws to stipulate otherwise.

The Referee will normally run a diagonal from one corner flag to the other, diagonally across the field of play during the game. The Assistant Referees will be asked to run respective touchlines, depending on which diagonal the Referee runs during a game.

Most Referees like to keep their Assistant Referees patrolling the same touchline in both halves of the game. But some Referees ask their Assistant Referees to swap touchlines in the second half, and some have been known on the odd occasion to make their Assistant Referees run the far end of the same touchline that they patrolled in the first half. The general method is to keep Assistants on the same touchline throughout the game - the senior Assistant normally takes the 'Bench' side (because he is more experienced in dealing with unruly 'bench' occupants.)

Some points for the Referee to consider before deciding which touchline his Assistants should run are:

Look for the 'geography' of the respective 'Benches' during the pre-match pitch inspection. Is the technical area marked? Are the 'dug-outs' near to each other? Are they big enough to contain the permitted occupants - if not, where will the occupants stand? Are they allowed to stand? Is one bigger than the other and better equipped thus giving an advantage to one team? Will the Assistant Referee run past the 'benches' on his allocated touchline or near enough to control and keep an eye on them?

4b. Be courteous at all times to both substitutes and officials (and the crowd), even in the face of extreme provocation. A polite: -

"Hello, everything OK? - Let me know when you want a sub. On",

Will allow you the first chance to use your man-management skills in making a first impression before things start to go wrong. Do not create any ill feeling or conflict by trying to be officious or petty with 'Bench' officials.

4c. Treat any proper enquiries from the ‘Bench’ in a polite way - but be firm when the queries become heated or vigorous.

Beware of constant requests for... "How much time left lino !"

You could also ‘glower’ at any perpetrator, or inform the occupants that you have reached the end of your tolerance, and will bring to the Referee’s attention, any further trouble. Tell them that the Laws of the Game state that they must behave in a responsible manner, this also refers to officials and substitutes congregating around the field of play when there is no recognized ‘Bench’.

4d. You can usually ignore most of the usual ‘Bench’ banter, but you ignore ALL comments at your peril. Don’t ignore challenges to your authority because they can destroy a game. Try and stamp down on bad behavior as soon as you can, by acting firmly with any culprit. This will prevent any escalation. Do not tolerate threats of any kind - bring these to the attention of the Referee as soon as you can.

4e. There are a lot of genuine, responsible good-humored officials who are prepared to work with us and not against us. These will give you no trouble, and can sometimes add to the enjoyment of the game, so try to remember that it is not all doom and gloom - keep your sense of humor...........


5a. The Referee will require all the help they can get when dealing with any 'Bench' trouble. The Assistant Referee needs to be observant and absolutely certain who is involved and what has been said or done during periods of trouble from the ‘Bench’. Any mistakes in identifying the culprit, could affect both the Referee and Assistant Referees’ ability to control the rest of the game. The Referee should not ‘hide’ if an Assistant Referee colleague is having difficulty with any persons' within the ‘Bench’ area - or ground, including spectators. The Assistant Referee cannot act on his own and must allow the Referee to personally deal with any misconduct as the Referee deems fit.

5b. The Referee and Assistant Referee will need to consult each other away from prying ears before any action is taken. When action has to be taken on the say-so of the Assistant Referee - it must be done as a team, with both officials approaching the ‘Bench’ together. The Referee is responsible for any necessary disciplinary action or warnings; the Assistant Referee should remain quiet and act as an observer. Removing any awkward official from the ‘dug-out’ into the stand may be sufficient to stop further trouble.

5c. If there is absolutely nothing happening in a game, it is very easy for the Assistant Referee to lose concentration on the field of play, and start ‘poking their nose’ into the ‘dug-out. DON’T go looking for trouble, because if you do, you’ll certainly find it on the ‘Bench’. The last thing a Referee wants is to get involved with the ‘Bench’. Don’t invite conversation or respond to alleviate any boredom.

5d. The Assistant Referee needs to develop a good rapport with the occupants of the ‘Technical Area’ without letting any conversation distract him from the main task of knowing exactly what is happening on the field of play.

5e. Assistant Referee’s must completely ignore any ‘wind-up’ comments about the Referee’s decisions on the field of play; the best response is to carry on as if nothing is being said - unless of course the comments are foul mouthed.

Questions and Answer:

Question 1: What is the actual rule for managers standing outside the zone in front of the technical area dugouts? I have seen managers stand outside this area, yet the 4th official seemed to not really do anything about it. One manager actually stood a few yards ON the pitch, but this was during a substitution.
So, is there actually any punishment for managers coming out of their area (I assume they can be sent from the touchline), and can they stand on the field of play, as long as the ball is dead?

Answer 1: The Law states that one team official at a time may convey tactical instructions to the players during the match and must return to his position after doing so. All team officials must remain within the confines of the technical area, where such an area is provided and they must behave in a responsible manner.

Different team officials during the match provided the person returns to his or her position after giving these instructions and behaves in a responsible manner may give tactical instructions. The occupants must stay within the technical area, except in special circumstances, for example, a trainer entering the field of play to administer treatment to a player (with the Referee’s permission).

Punishing minor infringements can actually escalate problems. Football is an emotive game and passions will run high. The Referee has the power to remove any occupant if the occupant’s behavior warrants it. They must behave themselves in a responsible manner. The Fourth Official is responsible for informing the Referee when the occupants misbehave – but a great deal of man-management is required on the Fourth Official’s part to pacify irate managers etc.

The number of persons permitted to occupy the technical area is defined by the competition rules. But as with life, a modicum of common sense is applied when dealing with the technical area. This is a very difficult part of the Referee’s responsibility. It must be said, that when problems arise, the occupants create them. It is those occupants who have a responsibility to behave themselves, and when they misbehave, it is they who are a total disgrace. So let’s not blame the Referee for such behavior, or for using his man-management skills for dealing with infringements. We are talking about grown men here, who would not dream of behaving like this in the street or elsewhere in public. If they did, they would be locked up!

+-+ BACK TO TOP +-+
Page updated on... Tuesday, August 26, 2014 @ 01:00:42 -0700 AM-GMT
+- Webmaster -+