Excellent disciplinary record rewarded...THE SADDLERS have won the 2013/14 FA Respect & Fair Play Award for League One.
We join Liverpool, Burnley and Exeter City as the other divisional winners of this award, which recognises fair play.
Receiving just 36 yellow cards in League games last season and five red cards, we also committed the fewest fouls – 368.
Saddlers' Chief Executive, Stefan Gamble, was at Wembley ahead of the Community Shield to pick up the award on behalf of the club and he will be presenting it to manager, Dean Smith, ahead of Saturday's opening home League game of the season against Bradford City.
The FA’s Respect Programme continues to go from strength-to-strength at all levels of the game, with last season’s disciplinary figures showing more improvement across England.
Cautions for dissent were down by 20 per cent and misconduct was reduced by a further 10 per cent at all steps of affiliated football, right through the Premier League, Football League, FA National Game System and County FA leagues.
And as well as awards for Premier League clubs Liverpool and Burnley, there will be a number of winners from across the game recognised in the Respect and Fair Play Awards ceremony, which takes place at Wembley before The FA Community Shield next month.
Cautions for dissent and misconduct were down at all levels of the game in 2013/14.
With over 550 nominations for the awards, The FA are keen to reward those who have immersed themselves in the Respect Programme and recognise the contribution that so many people, leagues and clubs have made to football in this country.
"Respect is the collective responsibility of everyone involved in football to create a fair, safe and enjoyable environment in which the game can take place," said Respect manager, Dermot Collins. "Launched in 2008, the Respect Programme has raised awareness of appropriate behaviour both on and off the pitch for players, coaches and spectators alike."
Activity from 1150 leagues is included in the new discipline figures, featuring 117,000 teams and an estimated 1.4m fixtures for the campaign.
And in comparing last season’s numbers with those from 2008/09 - the first season of the Respect Programme - they suggest Respect has made an encouraging difference:
• All cautions are down by four per cent [from 354,855 to 341,874].
• All dissent cautions are down by 20 per cent [from 106,568 to 86,032].
• The percentage of dissent cautions to all cautions has fallen from 30 per cent to 25 per cent.
• All dismissals are down by 13 per cent [from 54,268 to 47,604].
• All misconduct charges in relation to team officials or spectators are down by 10 per cent [from 19,938 to 17,969].
The Respect campaign has been particularly successful in the grassroots game and in youth football.
In addition, 112 FA grassroots leagues submit Respect Marks at the end of each game and during last season 148,000 reports were submitted, with the average mark for behaviour out of five being 4.6. The average mark for enjoyment out of five was 4.4.
In terms of match officials, England now has 28,204 registered referees - up from around 23,000 in 2008 - and the coverage of fixtures has improved considerably, as has their enjoyment of games.
Youth football in England has also been improved with the introduction of designated spectator areas, Respect training for coaches, codes of conduct, pitch side marshals, parent briefings and visual Respect signage.
The FA Respect & Fair Play Award Winners, 2013/14:
Premier League Fair Play: Liverpool
Football League Championship Fair Play: Burnley
Football League One Fair Play: Walsall
Football League Two Fair Play: Exeter City
National League System (Leagues Steps 1-4): Northern Premier League
National League System (Leagues Steps 5-7): Kent County Football League (Kent County FA)
National League System (Clubs Steps 1-4): Skelmersdale United FC (Liverpool County FA)
Grassroots Leagues: Onyx Team Wear Grantham Football League (Lincolnshire County FA) and East Lancashire Football Alliance (Commended) (Lancashire County FA)
Grassroots Clubs: Longfleet Youth FC (Dorset County FA) and Layton Juniors FC (FA)
County FA Award: Derbyshire County FA
Respect Peoples Award: AFC Bournemouth and Jackie Smith (Kent County FA)
Bobby Moore Respect Individual Award: Peter Madley, Bengeo Tigers FC (Hertfordshire County FA)
Women’s League Award: Herefordshire Girls League (Herefordshire County FA)