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Question Number: 32148

Law 6 - The Other Match Oficials 1/7/2018

RE: Under 19

Chris Johnson of Bishops Stortford, Herts England asks...

Hi ya Chaps

Just read your excellent article online about officiating youth football.

I have a question I'd hope that you can help with.

Can the linesman be on the pitch when running the line?

The reason I ask is, I've just come back from a youth football game and the linesman (a parent - yes you know what parents are like :0 ) was running the line at least 5 yards inside the touchline on the pitch, clearly this put off the attacking wide players - when the ref was politely asked at half-time is this okay, he said it was.

I can only see this as unsettling for the attacking team (they are youth players after all) I think there must be an FA rule stating the linesman must be off the pitch when running the line - but can't find it, any help on this one buddy.

All the best & thanks in advance.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Chris
While it is not spelt out exactly in the Laws an assistant referee should not be on the field of play. The only persons entitled to be on the field of play are the players and referee. No one else.
There are only a number of times when it is acceptable for an AR to enter on to the FOP such as enforcing 10 yards at a free kick in the ARs vicinity and also to help the referee deal with misconduct. At all other times ARs must be off the FOP
Now in this case it was a CAR, a club assistant referee who helps the referee. Many do not have the specific training that ARs would have. However the referee should be instructing them not to come on to the FOP in any circumstance. I am somewhat surprised that the referee said it was okay? Now there are times when an AR might run over the line on the FOP such as avoiding poor ground conditions over the sideline or trying to avoid a spectator, player warming up etc. It certainly though should not be done when it is likely to interfere with players on the field.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Chris,
the AR is to remain off the FOP as much as possible but this is only possible if the touchlines remain CLEAR of spectators to allow them not to be crowded into the field.

I recall doing high school matches with over a thousand spectators who would actually move out into the field when play reversed itself so they could watch and constantly be interfering with the ARS. I had to request a police/security presence to hold a 5 meter separation from the touchline to adequately allow ARS to do their job. Stadiums with bleachers and technical areas separate from the spectators really a much better idea.

In situations with spectators on both sides of the field or on only one side facing the teams technical areas I enforce pregame a 5 yard or more separation from any spectator setting up chairs to watch. You have to allow the ARs to function and players to slide out without crashing into stuff or people also keep the touchlines free so the foot stops of balls possibly headed out of play do not get interfered with.

An AR might assist CR by coming into the FOP on occasion but should not be where a ball struck at them would not clear the touchline first but rebound in to stay in play or have a player run into them by accident. I dislike the referee explanation and question the advice. An AR CAN dart in a bit to avoid a collision or a crappy bit of ground but no way do they belong on the FOP except on rare occasions.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Chris,
As mentioned by my colleagues, unless forced onto the field by circumstances (ground conditions or spectators) or in the specific situations where the Laws allow it (dealing with misconduct or enforcing the required distance) an AR should generally remain off the pitch.

Certainly they should not be routinely taking a patrol path that would have them 5 yards inside the field where they would run the risk of interfering with play.

While the Laws of the Game (which incidentally, are issued by the IFAB, not the FA) do not contain anything written specifically about the AR's position in relation to the touchline, there is an illustration on page 175 of the 2017-18 edition showing the patrol path for the AR's as being from the end line to the half-way line and entirely outside the field of play. This is followed by a series of diagrams showing the recommended position for an AR for various specific game situations and in all cases, that position is outside the touchline.

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