New scheme to give swearing the boot

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Alnwick Town chairman Tom McKie has backed an initiative to give bad language at football grounds the boot, but understands the views of those who aren’t in favour.

From the beginning of the 2012/13 season, the Northern League is to introduce ‘secret shoppers’ to spot foul-mouthed club representatives and players during games.

It is then proposed to ‘name and shame’ the worst-offending clubs by publishing a swearing ‘league table’.

The move has sparked criticism from some sides in the league, who claim that it is up to referees to monitor language and that the use of secret shoppers is not ‘open and transparent’.

Mr McKie said he is in favour of the scheme, but understands the concerns.

He said: “I am 100 per cent behind it and I hope it works, but at the end of the day, I believe that the buck stops with the referee and linesmen. What can the secret shopper hear that the matchday officials can’t? Surely a yellow or red card would stop it overnight.”

The league advertised for volunteers to monitor swearing at matches, and had more than 100 replies. A select panel has now been drawn up.

Northern League chairman Mike Amos said that it has created a ‘huge amount of interest’ and believes ‘a lot of people will be looking at how this works’.

He added: “We need to make our grounds family-friendly environments. If people swore like that on a main street on a Friday night they would be arrested, so what makes it acceptable at a ground?”