‘Serious errors’ in County FA’s treatment of abused referee, report finds
By Alex Dibble – @alex_dibble
Thursday, May 17, 2018
An investigation into how the Lancashire FA treated a 15-year-old referee who had been abused during a match has concluded its conduct was ‘inappropriate’ and ‘unnecessary’.
The ‘serious errors’ meant Max Ormesher was failed by the disciplinary process.
An inquiry was launched after talkSPORT revealed he had been threatened with a misconduct charge when he told the County FA he was too nervous to confront his three adult abusers at a disciplinary hearing.
Furthermore, Ormesher’s father Graham, who had witnessed the men target his son, was not invited to give evidence against them, despite offering to on multiple occasions.
A Lancashire FA panel took no action against the coaches of Lostock Hall Under-11s, citing insufficient evidence.
The report into the County FA’s handling of the case, carried out by the FA’s Head of Judicial Services, says greater consideration should have been given to Ormesher’s welfare and the panel should have been more robust in its investigation of his claims.
In addition, concerns have been raised that despite suggesting in statements that they should be allowed to question a referee’s decisions, charges against the men were found not proven.
The report describes this as ‘troubling’ as a different panel may have come to another conclusion.
It was only on the evening before the hearing that Lancashire FA agreed to Ormesher providing evidence via video link, despite his father requesting this weeks beforehand in order to spare his son the trauma of meeting his abusers again.
‘Consideration of alternative arrangements should have been made earlier’, the report finds.
Graham Ormesher told talkSPORT: “Max and I are delighted by the ruling and hopefully the positive changes it is going to bring about.”
Lancashire FA’s Chief Executive at the time the case was made public has since resigned, citing personal reasons.
The interim Chief Executive has met with Max Ormesher to personally apologise.
Graham added, “They have admitted that they didn’t support Max after his qualification and have assured me they are reinstating their mentoring scheme for young referees.”
The FA will now provide training for Lancashire FA on assessing evidence and techniques for questioning young people during disciplinary hearings. Lancashire FA are also reviewing their safeguarding processes.
An ambassador of charity Ref Support UK who intervened on Ormesher’s behalf during the case has since had a misconduct charge by Lancashire FA overturned on appeal.