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By ESPN Staff

FA gag managers over pre-match ref baiting

Managers will be banned from making comments about a referee before the match under rule changes announced by the Football Association.

Any manager who makes derogatory remarks about a match official before a game will face disciplinary action.

The FA will also toughen up on the harassment of match officials by players.

In relation to comments about referees, the FA said in a statement: "Clubs are being advised that any media comments by managers, players or any other club officials relating to appointed match officials prior to a fixture will no longer be allowed - such pre-match comments will be deemed improper and dealt with accordingly.

"Post-match comments in relation to match officials and incidents are still permitted provided they are not personal in their nature, imply bias or attack the integrity of the officials in charge of the match, or in any other respect bring the game into disrepute.''

Last season, Everton boss David Moyes questioned Mike Riley's appointment as referee for the FA Cup semi-final with Manchester United, saying it had been suggested to him that the official was a United supporter.

After the game, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said Moyes' remarks may have influenced Riley in a crucial decision when Danny Welbeck appeared to have been fouled in the area by Phil Jagielka. No spot-kick was awarded, and Everton went on to win a penalty shoot-out.

Riley has since been appointed as the new Premier League referees' chief.

Under other rule changes, clubs can now be charged if three or more players surround the referee in a "confrontational manner''. Previously the charge required officials to report "harassment or intimidation'' by three or more players.

Meanwhile, managers and coaches who are reported for misconduct in the technical area will now be subject to a fast-track disciplinary system taking three or four weeks - much quicker than previously when such cases could drag on for months.

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