Matches abandoned following serious assaults on refs

Daily Echo:

HAMPSHIRE Football Association officials have vowed to use the full extent of their powers to punish offenders who seriously assaulted two referees over the weekend.

Mike Misselbrook, who is also the Hampshire FA's fitness coordinator, was punched in the face by a player during a Drew Smith Veterans League match between Hare & Hounds and QK Southampton at Riverside Park on Saturday.

David Bott, of Chandler's Ford, was then headbutted to the ground by a spectator in a City of Southampton Sunday League game between TC Woodman and Mall Marlands, at the Sports Centre, Bassett.

Both matches were immediately abandoned as a result of the shocking incidents.

Hampshire FA chief executive Neil Cassar said he was shocked and disappointed. "The incidents of this weekend in Southampton have been particularly bad for county football," he said.

"Any assault, whether it be verbal or physical, on a match official has no place in the game and we will deal with any offenders by implementing the highest punishments available to us.

"This behaviour must stop - and stop now.

"After the positive of opening the new offices last week we have been brought back to earth by the incidents of Saturday and Sunday.

"When we are going out trying to recruit new referees, incidents like these don't paint a good picture.

"But they are isolated incidents and they are not the norm."

Misselbrook was assaulted for the first time in his 34-year career, by a Hare and Hounds player, after issuing a red card.

However, the 52-year-old was back on the pitch with his whistle the following day and is thought to be keen to continue refereeing, as long as another similar incident does not occur.

Bott, who is just 22, was left with a bloodied mouth after being attacked by one of the TC Woodman spectators.

The club has been suspended from playing until they identify the fan concerned to the Hampshire FA.

Cassar added: "We are not sure if that person is involved with the running of the club, so we have asked the club to identify the individual concerned.

"We have put that club under suspension until they have identified that person."

The Daily Echo understands that, if found guilty, each offender will be facing permanent bans with no review allowed for at least five years.

However, if the TC Woodman spectator is not an officer or player, the most the Hampshire FA is likely to be able to do is charge the club with misconduct.

Cassar added they were in touch with Misselbrook and Bott and would give them any help they require.

"We have made contact with the two referees and they are obviously shaken up by the incidents," he said.

"We will be in regular contact with the officials to ensure they are both okay and have got the support they need."

A Hampshire Police spokesman confirmed the second incident had been reported to them, although they had no record of Saturday's.

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