Police probe after ‘referee punch’ claims

Lytham Town's ground off Ballam Road
Lytham Town's ground off Ballam Road

Police have launched an investigation after a pre-season friendly was abandoned when a player allegedly punched a teenage referee.

Officers were called to Lytham Town’s Ballam Road pitch around 8.15pm on July 28 after reports of an assault.

John Williams

John Williams

The pre-season friendly between Penwortham FC and Lytham Town FC was called off after a player, believed to be from the Penwortham team, was accused of punching the official in the stomach.

The match was abandoned and officers called, with Lancashire police confirming an investigation had been launched into the incident.

Today John Williams, Lytham Town FC secretary, said the game “turned quite nasty” after Penwortham started losing.

He added: “From what I can gather a couple of their (Penwortham FC) players were getting frustrated at losing the game 3-1.

You can’t attack the referee - you just do not allow these things’

“The referee then either booked or sent off one of their players. It turned quite nasty at that stage and the guy hit him in the stomach from what I am told.

“A representative from the league came to see (us) and police did attend. I do not know what is going to happen.

“The game was cancelled. You can’t attack the referee – you just do not allow these things.”

The Football Association (FA) launched its Respect campaign in 2008, aimed at created codes of conduct between clubs, players and officials.

A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: “We are investigating a report of a referee being assaulted during a match between Penwortham FC and Lytham Town FC at Lytham’s ground.

“It is under investigation at this moment. There have been no arrests at this stage. There is an allegation someone was punched in the stomach.”

No-one from Penwortham FC was available for comment.

A spokesman for Lancashire Football Association said they had spoken to the young referee involved after the incident for 30 minutes as part of its own investigation.

He said: “We understand the referee was punched in the stomach. We are conducting a full investigation pending the police’s inquiry.

“Should the allegations be found the perpetrator will be dealt with alongside the FA guidelines.

“The number of incidents where a referee is involved in something like this is tiny in comparison to the number of games played but one such incident is one too many. We investigate every allegation with the utmost seriousness.”