THE hunt to find the next generation of football referees starts at Abingdon United FC on October 15 (7.45pm).

The North Berks branch of the Referees’ Association are inviting all potential match officials to attend an open evening where they can discover what is involved.

Qualified referees will be on hand to field questions about the course and exam.

Abingdon-based Football League referee Graham Scott, who will host the event, said: “Anyone who is interested in becoming a referee will be made welcome.

“That includes youngsters aged 14 or above, women and people from minority ethnic backgrounds, who are currently under-represented.”

Those who take up the challenge and qualify as referees will be offered one-to-one support during their first season through a bespoke mentorship scheme.

NBRA member David Hutchinson, who was the referee when Arsenal beat Liverpool 2-0 at Anfield to clinch the 1989 Football League title, now acts as adviser to RA members who encounter problems in their matches. Hutchinson said: “Ask players why they do not take up refereeing and most will tell you that it is because of the level of abuse involved.

“My aim is to ensure that the minority who do not show respect to the referee are held to account.”