Fife Flyers have fallen foul of a new crackdown on social media criticism.
The club was one of four to be fined after the Elite League introduced new penalties in a bid to cut the negative comments about match referees and DOPS – the Department of Player Safety, which handles all disciplinary matters.
Flyers were fined £100 – one of a quartet punished ‘‘for incidents involving them or their staff’’ in October and November.
Any second misdemeanour will result in a £1000 fine, and a third transgression would cost the club £5000.
The crackdown follows a number of critical tweets, and re-tweets from various clubs and players, and the new fines have been launched with immediate effect.
They can be imposed on players, coaches and club officials who make improper comments regarding referees, linesmen or DOPS.
The league said this season has seen ‘‘a significant increase’’ in club officials using social media and post match interviews to make ‘‘unfair comments and insinuations’’ about referees and linesmen.
Tony Smith, chairman, said it had to stop.
He said: “Enough is enough. Right now ,as a league, we are tearing each other, our officials and our league to pieces.
‘‘Our DOPS system is being ridiculed by the very group which set it up. How ludicrous is it that we are trying to destroy everything we have worked so hard to create?’’
He said the league’s board could not allow the criticism to continue, and added: ‘‘The Elite League has come a long way in the last five years and we are asking our officials to keep up with the ever increasing standards. Mistakes will happen ... but we also have to understand that without the referees and linesmen then we don’t have a game. We have to treat them with more respect.’’
He warned clubs which criticised officials that they would be hit in the pocket.
“If you want to put yourself out there it is going to cost you money’’ he said.
‘‘ These days £100 is nothing,and people will think about it and push the button and say ‘so what’, but, believe me, do it again you get a £1000 fine and if you do it again after that you will face a £5000 fine, which is serious money.
“We can’t accept the behaviour that has gone over the last six weeks and we will stamp it out. My message to everyone is cut it out and let’s get on with the hockey.”
Any club, coach, player or club employee found to be bringing the league into disrepute with comments about officials in the media or on social media, this includes retweeting things posted by others, will face action from the Elite League.
The first four fines went to Fife Flyers (£100), Cardiff (£200), Sheffield Steelers (£300), Nottingham Panthers (£200).