The Toolstation Western League podcasters might have hung up their microphones for another season, but they’ve shared with The Journal a transcript from episode 39, which featured an interview with Martin Cassidy, the CEO of the RefSupport, an independent charity set up to represent the best interests of match officials. In this first extract, Podcast presenter, Ian Nockolds, starts by asking Martin to explain the work he and his does charity does:

MC: It's great to be back on again, so thank you for the invite. Yeah, we are the first registered charity that supports referees independently from the FA. Lots of people laugh and say, 'Oh my God, what do you need a referee charity for?' Normally the people that say it are the ones that we're looking out at because they just think that referees are fair game for way too long. 

The game is being spoilt by people who just think they can say what they want on social media, say what they want during the game. And you know, the loudest voice and the squeakiest wheel have got all the oil. 

So, we've made a conscious decision - there's four trustees that, we all talk about what we're going to do strategise-wise. We do many, many things away from social media, we're not just a twitter account, and we do a lot of support with referees who don't want to go public with the challenges they've faced. 

We made a concerted effort to start going back at clubs on social media, individual people on social media, and we've had pops at county FAs, we've had pops at the FA. We've got a really positive relationship with the FA now, which, historically, we haven't. It took - you know, they were really defensive when we started going, and we were stuck in this sort of nowhere land for a while where referees were thinking, 'do I engage with them? Because they're always giving the FA loads.' And then we had people who were coming to us saying, 'Well, you say this on social media, because the FA haven't done this, and this has happened to me.' So, we realised very quickly that we could help clubs, referees, county FAs get their messages out, we're the biggest social media platform for referees. 

On Twitter, we've just got over 17,000; the FA's own referee account for the whole country has only got 18,000, and they've been going six years longer than us. So, we know there's people out there who are interested in messages that we're doing for various reasons. Some are interested to have a pop back at us, and some are interested because they like what we do, and it's turned into a really positive organisation with regards to helping others. 

We do the kit bank, where we support referees at grassroots level, we do mediation when referees get in trouble for either not doing the report right or getting in trouble themselves with social media posts. And we also help clubs, clubs come to us and say, 'I've had this report and I believe the Match Official was lying, can you give us some evidence', so we do a lot of that. 

So, there's a lot of stuff that goes on underneath the profile of social media for what we're doing, and we're really proud of our connection with the Western League. All the trustees have all come through with the Western League. 

Janie Frampton, one of the first women to get to higher levels, same time as Wendy Toms that you might remember; she’s our Chair. I came through the Western League, the whole lot, I've done refereeing, line and coaching. 

Dave Brammer, who everyone knows about, he's a board member, and Richard Melinn who used to be the fixtures secretary for the Western League. We've got a real fondness and affiliation with the Western League. And of course, I'll always say this, the Western League were fundamental in changing World football law when they came and supported our body cam trial. 

We do a lot, it isn't just the Twitter account, we obviously want to reach out to clubs. We go to clubs, when we did the managers forum. We've done a few of them where managers get invited to come up on stage with us, a few referees, invite anyone we want; referees, fans, players, and we all have a discussion about what we want from a matchday experience, from a referee and player point of view. We haven't done any post-Covid but we will do some, and it'd just be great to get that engagement going where most people involved in football will watch a game that they're not associated with. 90 percent of the time, they'll get right. So, I always found that interesting. And I think what we'd love to do with the Western League is do situations where we've got video clips, and we can talk about video clips, why it was a red, why it wasn't a red, why it was a penalty, and why not. And I just think that'd be a really good education piece. 

Next week, Ian and Martin discuss the big issues that RefSupport has been campaigning on over the last season. The full interview with Martin can be found online at

Listen to the full podcast below: