Founder of Ken Aston Referee Society
|Part 1. B-ench
Part 2. E-xtra
Part 3. N-uisance
Part 4. C-ommon
Part 5. H-ow to
This page refers particularly to
matches played in stadium...
with a designated seated area for technical
staff and substitutes.
Part 1 "BENCH LAWS"
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
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
- 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
Part 2 "EXTRA HIDDEN DETAILS"
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
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.
Part 3 "NUISANCE FACTOR"
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
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
Part 4 "COMMON SENSE"
4a. It's up to the individual Referee, as to which
touchline his Assistant Referees run. There is nothing in the Laws to
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
"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
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
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...........
Part 5 "HOW TO ASSIST"
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
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
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!