James Barnett's jail sentence for attacking referee welcomed by FA

The Football Association has said it is delighted with a one-year jail sentence given to a player who headbutted a referee.

James Barnett, 25, from West Drayton, also repeatedly kicked the referee at a six-a-side match in Berkshire in July.

An FA spokesman said: "This sends out a strong message that assaults on referees will not be tolerated."

The 27-year-old referee suffered cuts and bruises to his face and body and needed surgery to have teeth removed.

Barnett launched the attack at the game in Bracknell on 2 July after he was given a red card following an argument over the colour of the referee's top.

The FA said its Respect programme had contributed to the decline of serious assaults on match officials over the past few years.

'Mindless and violent'

"In isolated cases such as this, the FA will look to exclude individuals from playing again," the FA spokesperson added.

Craig Davies, from Pitch Invasion, an FA-backed group which organised the game at which the referee was attacked, said of the sentence: "It shows that football is not a place for violent and aggressive behaviour."

He added: "The referee is back working in the six-a-side league and we shall continue giving him, and all the other match officials, the support they need to ensure that games are played in a safe and enjoyable environment."

Barnett admitted a charge of causing actual bodily harm and was jailed at Reading Crown Court on 26 October.

After the sentencing, PC Ashley Todd said: "I hope it shows how mindless and violent assaults such as this will not go unpunished and are taken very seriously by both the police and courts.

"Barnett took out his frustration by carrying out an unprovoked and reckless assault on the victim, which could have easily been more serious."

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