The Sin Bin Din

Sin bin or naughty boy step, either way – it’s coming As the end of the 2018/19 season approaches, already clubs up and down the country are looking at preparation and logistics for next season. Budgets need to be set, grounds need an MOT, players need sourcing and so on. Clubs aren’t the only people getting ready though, as Leagues are starting to get their preparations ready to pave the way for an easy summer of transition.

Now normally that would involve admin for new teams, getting all clubs up to speed with the processes required and ensuring that all houses are in order from a club, refereeing and FA perspectives are met. Next season though will see a big change that is already getting people talking – Sin-Bins! Now let’s be honest, it has been touted for a while and discussed at all levels. Even the Premier League have talked about them for more than a decade but from next season all Step five and Step Six clubs will be taking part in the wider implementation trials of Sin Bins.

The trials have taken place at Step Seven over the course of this season and the feedback from the officials and clubs at that level to The FA has apparently been positive, hence the raising of the system into the semi-pro ranks.

The “temporary dismissal” criteria is varied, at a recent referees meeting this card (image attached) was given to officials to explain the reasons for being able to send someone the sin-bin. The sin-bin in reality will likely be the players technical area, so it’s unlikely that we will see sales of smoking shelters increase rapidly around England, however that is to be ratified shortly.  The dismissal time is being touted as 9 minutes, which could be key in a high stakes game. The player can’t be substituted during the sin-bin time either so that potential loophole has been closed early on.

Thirty One leagues from across the country at Step 7 and below of the National League System – including male, female, adult, youth, Saturday and Sunday leagues – took part and resulted in the following:

  •  25 leagues showed an overall reduction in dissent
  •  38% reduction in dissent across all leagues
  •  72% of players wanted to continue with the scheme
  •  77% of managers and/or coaches wanted to continue with the scheme
  •  84% of referees wanted to continue with the scheme


The key points of sin-bins are to act as deterrents and when you look at the stats above, it does seem to have a positive effect on a number of aspects of the game. Whether it will work higher up, time will tell, but unlike VAR this is something that could in theory be implemented across the game at all levels.

I touch on VAR there, that’s a whole different debate in itself, but when you look at changes to the game, even going back generations from Goalkeepers not being able to pick the ball up from a back-pass, multiple substitutions and active/inactive for offside, all of which could be brought in across the board. I can’t see VAR being brought into Stone Dominoes in a couple of seasons time? Game Rule and technology changes are ok, but where there is a clear split over how far it can go,
an idea should really be potted.

Sin-bins will certainly continue to provoke debate, but in the long term this is something that will likely catch on. Let’s see  what happens but either way, next season is shaping up to be a different ball game. We’ll be here to find out I guess.  We will debate this on the Podcast shortly.