Sin Bins

Sin Bins

WFA Referee Development Manager, Ollie Williams, explains the new Sin Bin scheme.

What is the purpose of sin bins?

Ultimately, it is to create a better match day experience for players, club officials, spectators and referees as feedback from many people involved in the game is that they do not like seeing or hearing dissent. Players who are sanctioned for dissent will be given the opportunity to improve their behaviour by spending time in the sin bin – leaving their team down by a player for the duration that they are off the field of play.

What is the feedback so far?

Like any form of change, there has been reluctance from many people involved in the game. However, we have found that the majority of clubs and players who are particularly reluctant have a high number of instances of dissent historically, which tells us that they are concerned about missing out on playing time. Ultimately, if players don’t show dissent, they will stay on the pitch and their team will not lose a player for a period of time.

It is also an immediate approach to dealing with players who use dissent instead of a standalone yellow card. Many players have previously been heard to say “yellow card me ref, it’s only £10” – and the view is that time spent on the side-line can have more of an impact in terms of improving behaviour.

What leagues will see the use of sin bins in the 2019/20 season?

Sin bins for dissent will be mandatory at Step 5 and below across the country for 2019/20. This means that all Worcestershire teams playing in the Midland Football League Premier Division and below – including all youth football – will have sin bins for dissent.

What offences are sin bins used for?

Dissent by word or by action – but it is important that everyone understands what dissent is. For example, low level verbal comments or an action such as sarcastically applauding a decision could be seen as dissent.

Let’s be clear; use of insulting, offensive or abusive language/gestures is a straight red card offence – not dissent.

How long does a player spend in the sin bin?

In 90 minute matches, players who are sanctioned for dissent will spend 10 minutes of playing time in the sin bin. In all matches of shorter length, players will spend eight minutes of playing time in the sin bin.

Where is the sin bin located?

The player will be shown a yellow card and the referee will point towards the touchline. The player then leaves the field of play and takes up a position with the team coach and substitutes. There is no designated area , so there is no cost to clubs.

Does this mean more money for Worcestershire FA?

No – players who use dissent but learn from their sin bin sanction and don’t offend again in the same match will be permitted to re-enter the field of play and there will be no fee applied to their sanction (the £10 fee is removed).

However, if a player doesn’t learn from the first sanction and uses dissent for a second time in the same match, they will receive an automatic one match suspension, a £40.00 fee, and their match will also be over as they won’t be permitted to return to the field of play.

It is also used for the continual misconduct of players and still goes towards the player’s record. So a sin bin still counts as one yellow card towards the 5, 10, and 15 totting up process.

What are the results so far?

The first year of the pilot found a 38% reduction in dissent across 31 competitions.

How will referees deal with sin bins?

Referees will be trained to deal with sin bins in a clear and concise manner. Sin bins are not optional. If you are told by a referee that they are choosing not to implement sin bins then that referee should be reported to their County FA who will deal with them. Worcestershire FA referees will be well aware of the potential sanctions for those who do not implement sin bins.

We began educating our referees last season, with visits to every local Referees’ Association, where we provided an overview of the process as well as additional training sessions.

What about the future? - Should we expect to see sin bins used higher up the Pyramid?

IFAB – the body who make the Laws of the Game – have determined national associations can use it for the grassroots level of the game. So The FA only has the authority to use it at those levels. But, if people like what they see and IFAB change their stance on that, you should never rule out it.

What happens now?

With the launch of this new initiative, we are in the process of educating our affiliated leagues, clubs and match officials. Attendance at sessions by club managers and secretaries will be key to the success and understanding of this process as we move forward to next season, as the message will need to reach players.

The following workshops have been organised and are open to clubs, leagues, and match officials:

Monday 3rd June – 6:30pm at University of Worcester, WR2 6AJ.              

Booking must be made online here in advance

Thursday 27th June – 7:00pm at Pershore Town F.C., WR11 1QU.

Booking must be made online here in advance

If you have a genuine question or concern regarding the use of sin bins, you can contact the County FA via e-mail: