05/06/2012 07:38 BST

'Secret Shoppers' To Spy On Swearing Football Officials And Players

One of the world's oldest football leagues is to introduce "secret shoppers" to spy on officials and players who swear during games, its chairman said.

The Northern League, formed in 1889, could then name and shame the worst offending clubs and provide financial bonuses for those who keep it clean.

The league, which has 46 clubs from Alnwick, Northumberland, to Northallerton in North Yorkshire, has led a number of high-profile campaigns against swearing, which is contrary to the laws of the game, and which puts off families from watching.

Next season the league will send mystery guests or secret shoppers to monitor games - despite the opposition of certain members opposed to "snooping" going on at matches.

swearing football

Jose Mourinho, the then Chelsea manager, offering a slightly unfriendly hand gesture

League chairman Mike Amos said: "If you go to a Premier League game with 50,000 people there and the players and management are effing and blinding, you can't hear it, and so in a sense, it doesn't matter.

"But if you are at a game with 100 people in the ground, you can hear.

"There are still people in 2012 who do not like swearing, and it can be heard all over the ground.

"People say to me 'it's a passionate game' and it is, but it is also a disciplined game."

Mr Amos said the laws of football allow a referee to send off a player or manager who uses offensive language, but few do.

Match officials may be wary of being marked down by clubs if they tackle the issue - meaning referees would struggle to get promotion through the leagues.

Mr Amos, who has been league chairman for 16 years, said the FA could stamp out the issue if they took a stand, but it seemed reluctant to do so.

A previous attempt to tackle swearing by introducing a zero tolerance policy failed to win the governing body's backing, after it was initially praised by the FA.

"All of us who go to the footie have heard tirades of foul-mouthed abuse directed at referees and officials and the officials have run away," he said.

"That's how bad it has got.

"We are not going to persuade the referees to act without the FA's backing, so we have to persuade the clubs and their personnel not to do it."

League bosses already know the worst offending clubs and the chairman said those with managers who swear from the technical area also had a problem with players using bad language.

"If the managers are disciplined, then the players tend to be," he said.

The Northern League has announced a £200,000 sponsorship deal with the dehumidifier manufacturer Ebac, which may allow bosses to reward the best behaved clubs.

Mr Amos said: "We have to get it through to the managers that the crowd is a few feet behind them when they are in the technical area.

"If they are swearing like that on a main street on a Friday night they would be arrested, so what makes it acceptable at a ground?"