MIKE DEAN: Enough is enough. It's time to adopt a hardline approach

  • Lewis Dunk was shown a straight red card for personally abusive language

Premier League players cannot say they weren’t warned.

The lack of respect shown towards referees had been in the news all week, as Mail Sport set the agenda with their campaign against abuse.

Lewis Dunk and his colleagues should have anticipated a no-nonsense approach heading into the weekend’s return of the Premier League. But the Brighton defender clearly crossed the line with Anthony Taylor on Saturday.

You could see the change in Taylor’s facial expression when Dunk was barking in his ear. Dunk tried to offer an apologetic handshake but the damage was already done, to the extent that Taylor decided a second yellow was not enough. He showed a straight red instead.

I’m totally in favour of a hardline approach being taken by our referees. Enough X-rated abuse is aimed at us from the outside world. It shouldn’t be coming from the players on the pitch, too. Debates over decisions are fine. Derogatory insults are not and Taylor, one of the game’s best officials, demonstrated enough is enough when he reached for his top pocket.

mike dean: enough is enough. it's time to adopt a hardline approach

Brighton defender Lewis Dunk was sent off after two bookings for dissent on Saturday

mike dean: enough is enough. it's time to adopt a hardline approach

Dunk got in the face of fourth official Andy Davies after his dismissal at Nottingham Forest

mike dean: enough is enough. it's time to adopt a hardline approach

Mail Sport has launched a campaign to stop the abuse of referees at all levels of the game

I was told on Sunday that I was the last Premier League referee to show a red for dissent — to Lee Cattermole in March 2012. Sunderland had just drawn 1-1 at Newcastle. It was a bad-tempered derby and one which saw Shola Amoeba score the equaliser in stoppage time.

After blowing the full-time whistle, Cattermole bombarded me with insults, none of which I could repeat in a family newspaper. It pushed me to the point where I decided showing red was right, not realising it might take more than a decade for the next one to be produced.

In truth, I don’t miss refereeing, and the aggro you receive as that supposedly wicked man in black is a big reason why.

Premier League players should prepare for firmness from referees for the foreseeable. The PGMOL want to crack down on this behaviour and rightly so, because it feels like the abuse has only worsened as players have forgotten their boundaries.

Something had to change and Taylor led the way this weekend.

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