London – English football intends to start punishing managers who behave badly on the sidelines as severely as players on the field, the Football Association (FA) said on Tuesday.
In the coming season, referees will be able to show red and yellow cards to coaching staff in England's top professional competitions, with the exception of the Premier League, as part of a pilot project based on the FA's existing "technical area code of conduct".
In the top flight, managers will not be shown cards but receive verbal warnings.
Like cards for players, the warnings will be totted up and could lead to match bans.
What the FA calls "stage one warnings" will be issued for inappropriate language or gestures "which are an obvious show of dissent or an attempt to influence the decisions of the match officials". These include kicking or throwing water bottles or clothing, sarcastic clapping or waving imaginary cards.
Managers who receive four warnings will be banned for one match, eight warnings will result in a two-match ban, 12 warnings will bring a three-match ban and 16 will lead to a misconduct charge.
Unlike cards for players, the warnings will not, in most cases, be wiped out after a fixed number of games.
Shaun Harvey, the chief executive of the English Football League which runs the three divisions below the Premier League, said on Tuesday that rules for behaviour in the dugout or technical area are not new, but the idea is to make the disciplinary procedure clearer to fans.
Referees have long been able to banish badly-behaved managers, but now a red card will make clear what is happening.
"We thought it should add to the clarity and hopefully better behaviour in the technical areas," said Harvey.
Harvey said that the referee can, if necessary, caution a team's entire coaching staff.
"This is not about creating a drama. It is about making sure behaviour doesn't decline further."