Encouraging stats for Respect.

Progress continues to be made in the Football Association's Respect programme with recorded improvements in on-field behaviour and recruitment of referees.

A few recent high-profile incidents in the Premier League have led some critics to suggest the initiative is failing to deliver but latest figures suggest positive changes are taking place.

As of the start February, six-monthly statistics show cautions for dissent are down in nine of the 15 senior leagues and divisions of the Premier League, Football League and National League system.

That reflects the trend over previous seasons where, overall across the Premier League and Football League, dissent has fallen by 16% since 2008/09.

The number of misconduct charges issued for incidents such as surrounding a match official or technical area offences also fell in comparison.

Referee recruitment continues to increase with figures for the end of December 2012 showing a 2% increase (27,063) in qualified referees from the previous year (26,526) and there are now 6,000 more referees than four years ago.

And in the FA's annual grassroots survey, 56% of respondents (up from 40% the previous year) reported their experience of the game had improved as a result of measures introduced through the Respect programme.

Further expansion has seen the launch last month of the Respect Rewards Scheme, in which leagues can win prizes like a celebrity speaker appearance, VIP hospitality at an England international or staging a league cup final at the new national football centre St George's Park.

In youth football the FA have provided a 50% subsidy to support leagues and clubs in purchasing pitch-side barriers and spent 87,000 on the scheme, while a new online coaching course will be launched next month bringing together elements of Respect and player development.

Source: PA