Mikel Arteta
The FA is keen to cut down on the negative comments aimed at referees by managers. David Klein/Reuters

Referees and match officials have come under immense scrutiny this season in the Premier League with many being critical of their decision-making, especially the managers.

Now the Football Association (FA) is ready to crack down on the managers who direct negativity towards referees in post-match interviews.

A recent meeting saw the FA and Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOL) inform the Premier League and EFL that tougher sanctions await managers who disrespect referees, with touchline bans and fines a real possibility for them.

The Premier League has been looking to improve the conduct of players and managers as the start of the campaign saw there be a clamp down on intimidating and argumentative behaviour. This is because referees were instructed to award at least one yellow card in any instance where two or more players approached them in an aggressive manner.

Also, to limit the hostility from the coaches on the touchline, a new rule was implemented this season so that only one person from a team's coaching set-up can be at the front of the touchline. This avoids more than one person directing dissent or abuse towards an official.

The punishments for managers have now extended to post-match interviews due to a recent outburst by Arsenal boss, Mikel Arteta. The Spaniard came under the microscope for his scathing criticism towards referee, Stuart Attwell, and the VAR officials when his side lost 1-0 to Newcastle United after a controversial goal by Anthony Gordon was awarded.

In his post-match interview with Sky Sports, Arteta did not hold back in what he thought of the officiating. He stated: "It's a disgrace. That's how I feel and that's how everybody feels. You cannot imagine the amount of messages we've got saying this cannot continue. It's embarrassing."

A day after Arteta's controversial comments, Arsenal released a statement strongly backing their manager's post-match thoughts. The statement read: "Arsenal Football Club wholeheartedly supports Mikel Arteta's post-match comments after yet more unacceptable refereeing and VAR errors."

The statement went on to say: "PGMOL urgently needs to address the standard of officiating and focus on action which moves us all on from retrospective analysis, attempted explanations and apologies."

Whilst Arsenal avoided any sort of punishment for supporting its manager's views and its criticism of the officiating, Arteta himself was charged by the FA with misconduct. A potential touchline ban or fine awaits the Spaniard once the FA comes to a decision.

The Arsenal and Arteta situation alerted many to feel that the criticism of referees had crossed the line, with Sky Sports pundit and former Manchester United player, Gary Neville, labelling Arsenal's statement defending Arteta as "really poor" and "quite dangerous".

Brighton boss, Roberto De Zerbi has also been very critical of the officiating in the Premier League as he recently commented: "I am honest and clear. I don't like 80 per cent of England's referees. It's not a new thing. I don't like them. I don't like their behaviour on the pitch."

However, De Zerbi had avoided any punishment from the FA for his comments and escaped with just a warning.

To improve officiating, ex-Premier League referee and current PGMOL chief, Howard Webb, met with current referees at a recent summit to advise them on certain officiating scenarios. Webb pointed out that VAR should intervene in scenarios where a soft penalty is awarded by the referee and challenge the original on-field decision.

Webb also mentioned that the referees should consistently book players or managers whenever they waive an imaginary card and ask for an opponent to be carded. This rule was put in at the start of the season, with Liverpool's Alexis Mac Allister receiving a booking for this on the opening weekend of the season, but the rule has not been regularly followed since.

A concerning trend this season which Webb is keen to cut out is the amount of dissent dished out by players as well as managers in the Premier League – with already 88 yellow cards awarded because of it.

The most cautioned due to dissent this season with three bookings each are Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag, Fulham boss, Marco Silva, Chelsea striker, Nicolas Jackson, Newcastle midfielder, Sean Longstaff and West Ham United midfielder, Lucas Paqueta.

Evidently, the FA and PGMOL believe the bad treatment of referees by managers and players has reached a boiling point and now is the time for stricter rules to be put in place in order to avoid increased hostility to referees and match officials.