The Get on with the Game (GOWTG) programme was launched at the beginning of the 2008/09 season and is the Premier League's response to The Football Association's wider Respect agenda.
GOWTG focuses on limiting unacceptable behaviour within the game, especially towards Match Officials, but it is also about building positive working relationships between players, coaches and managers and referees from Professional Game Match Officials (PGMO). GOWTG has been a success, with the number of cautions awarded for dissent being reduced by just under half since its introduction.
That has largely been achieved by following the principle of building relationships. To introduce the aims of the campaign at the start of each season, the chairmen, manager and captains of each Premier League Club sign a charter of commitment to the objectives of the campaign.
But the element of GOWTG that has been most successful is the process of the Club captains exchanging the teamsheets with the referee an hour before kick-off. This has created unprecedented, meaningful dialogue between the match officials and the captains, allowing specific issues to be discussed in a calm, rational manner away from the heat of the action, and with captains strongly encouraged to raise any questions and engage in a discussion with the Match Officials.
Other elements that make up part of the programme include a GOWTG flag being introduced prior to each match as well as a fair play handshake between all players and Match Officials involved in a match.
GOWTG was reaffirmed at the 2011/12 Barclays Premier League Season Launch event with the support of the League Managers Association, the Professional Footballers' Association, The FA and PGMO. Following consultation with the PGMO the Premier League agreed that the next stage of the GOWTG programme should focus on player behaviour with particular emphasis on the following:
- Visibly disrespectful behaviour towards Match Officials
- Players turning their backs on referees
- Players surrounding Match Officials
- Respect shown by Managers towards Match Officials, specifically behaviour in the technical area and post-match confrontation
Speaking at the 2011/12 Season Launch Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore reiterated his support for the programme saying: "Following a fantastic 2010/11 Barclays Premier League season we go into 2011/12 with a lot to be optimistic about. Last season we saw goals galore, twists and turns at both ends of the table, and stadia packed with passionate fans.
"We want more of the same, but with that popularity and reach come certain responsibilities. We have spent the summer discussing with the players, managers and match officials how we can best tackle the elements of unacceptable behaviour we highlighted last March - visibly disrespectful behaviour, mass confrontation and the like.
"West Bromwich Albion manager Roy Hodgson also threw his weight behind GOWTG: "The Barclays Premier League, and English football as a whole, has a lot to be proud of and I include the match officials in that. It's important that we keep working with them so the players can concentrate on producing quality football. That's what we all want to see - competitive matches played in the right spirit."
Premier League referees are to also helping bring to life aspects of the Social and Emotional Aspect of Learning (SEAL) curriculum for children, teachers and parents. A new website kids.getonwiththegame.com uses lessons learnt on the pitch in the Barclays Premier League to address children's behavioural issues, educating and engaging children on a range of social and emotional issues both in football and everyday life.
Each football themed module consists of a general introduction, a variety of learning activities, and a conclusion plenary. The site aims to convey the same Get On With The Game message that is delivered every weekend at Premier League grounds: by getting on with each other and getting on with the referee, players are free to get on with enjoying the game.