The FA have just launched a site to assist people at grassroots level, you can view it here.
It sounds easy to just get eleven people, get a kit and play a match. It’s a little more complicated than that but hopefully this page will help you to gain some idea on how to form a club and make sure it is able to operate correctly. Joining any league you want to may not be an option. The league may have a limit on the amount of teams or you may not satisfy their criteria. The league will probably require you to attend an interview to ascertain whether you are serious and will contribute to their league. You will also need to have a committee in place and, most importantly, players.
This is fairly simple to set up and consists of a Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer as a minimum. You should have a constitution that contains how the committee is appointed and what the rules are for the club Examples can be found below under Club Rules and Codes of Conduct.
Chairman – The Chairman should be an authoritive person who can deal with matters that may affect the club when it comes to your own constitution. They should set a good example and be a good representative for your club. Their main responsibilities are to be familiar with the club constitution and league rules, to Chair club meetings, liaise with your Club Secretary on the Agenda for any meetings you hold and assists with the minutes if required, offer support to the Club Committee and prepares and presents an annual report at your Club’s AGM.
Secretary – This is probably the most important role in the club as they deal with all the admin and are the official contact for the club. This person should be easy to get hold of and timely when dealing with communications. Leagues will normally organise a training session for new secretaries joining their league and, at least in the case of the North Devon League, produce a Secretary’s Guide which outlines the duties during the season. The main duties of a Club Secretary can be found under the section The Normal Running of your Club.
Treasurer – Another important person as without funds your club cannot function. They will be responsible for setting up the club bank account and signatories. At the end of each season they will have to prepare a simple spreadsheet listing income and expenditure which must be sent to Devon FA. The spreadsheet will be supplied by Devon FA. If you have not received one please contact them.
You won’t be able to play football unless you have an income source. This can be through sponsorship if you are lucky and/or through player subscriptions and match fees. You may also be entitled to funding from charitable sources, examples of these can be found on the Funding Page. Please note that funding is normally available to those clubs who develop as part of the community so a single adult club can struggle to obtain charitable funding. Sponsorship is extremely helpful in bolstering a Club’s finances. Pubs are always keen to get teams back after games so will normally provide free food. Companies or organisations may be willing to sponsor kit in return for advertising their business but in this current climate sponsors are very difficult to find so the benefits of having a well organised Club with a good committee cannot be underestimated.
Players are necessary in order to fulfill your fixtures. A recommended squad for one team is about 25. This will allow for injuries and holidays.
MANAGERS AND COACHES
If you are a junior club you will need to have in place a Level 1 coach who has a CRB with the FA. Adult teams do not require a qualified coach but it is a good idea and Devon FA runs plenty of courses. Managers are very important but very hard to get in place. They have to make tough decisions such as who will be left out of the team on Saturday. A good manager will develop a good team spirit and this will show itself on the pitch.
If you were affiliated with Devon FA the previous season, you should automatically be sent out an affiliation form for the following season. If you are a new club, then you will need to contact Devon FA in order to obtain the form. You must check all details are correct, even on pre-populated forms. The affiliation form itself is self explanatory and comes with a covering letter to help you. Remember to contact Devon FA If you need assistance in completing the forms. Devon FA requires affiliation very early so you should not delay obtaining these forms if you are a new club. Because of the early date the affiliation fee payment can usually be deferred to a later date but do not forget to pay or you will be fined. Clubs should note that, for clubs with youth players, their club welfare officer must have attended a Safeguarding Children Course and must have attended a Welfare Officer Workshop.
CLUB RULES AND CODES OF CONDUCT
It is important that your club has its own rules and codes of conduct in place. This will help in the unfortunate event that you need to deal with indiscipline to decide on the appropriate course of action. Tthe FA have developed some very simple template guides for clubs which can be viewed and downloaded on the FA website.
Finding a pitch in the North Area is becoming increasingly difficult. Local Authorities are suffering financially so sports pitches do not come high on the agenda when considering essential services. Enquiries to use Local Authority pitches should be made through their contact which will be found on their websites. Tony Cloak looks after the administration for the Tarka Tennis Centre, Rock Park and Brimlands Pitches on behalf of North Devon Council so you should contact him direct to book any of those pitches. Tews Lane bookings are run by Fremington Parish Council. Contact details for all three pitches are on the front page of this site. Other sources of pitches apart from those already owned by clubs are schools/colleges but these are often difficult to use because of the changing facilities and the added expense of having a caretaker there to open up etc. Sharing a ground can have its own problems due to overuse and booking priorities so if you do share you should make sure the booking priority is made clear at the start. You may be required to pay up front, monthly or quarterly so remember to budget for these payments as they can be fairly substantial. Please note that a fee is often payable even if you wish to only train on a public pitch.
FOOTBALL KITS AND EQUIPMENT
A good kit can be expensive, particularly if you have writing on it, but should last a few seasons. A cheap kit may look good to start with but you will quickly notice the difference after a few washes. Kits can be sourced locally or through internet firms. You will have to decide whether you are going to get kit for everyone or just have one kit that is kept by one person. That one person will need to wash the kit after each game and after a muddy game in December this isn’t such a fun thing! You will also have to consider the requirement of a second kit in the event of a colour clash. You may get around this by sharing with another team to save on costs. When it comes to equipment, local retailers will often give discounts to local clubs. Someone will need to take responsibility for looking after the equipment after each game if you do not have a store. A good set of nets, poles and balls can last a few seasons if looked after.
PLAYING FRIENDLIES, CHARITY MATCHES ETC
All official matches that occur need to be sanctioned by the Devon FA, and that technically includes friendlies. This protects you should there be an incident during the match. Clubs and any match official can be fined for taking part in a match that has not been sanctioned by their appropriate County FA. All you have to do is contact Devon FA regarding the details and they will confirm whether the match is sanctioned.
If you are intending on setting up a Club with various age groups please bear in mind the following:
1)To play affiliated football, you must be six years old on or before 31st August (FA Rule 4).
2)Under 8s cannot play for points; no results should be collected or published (FA Mini-Soccer Handbook). This includes end of season tournaments.
3) To play in a game of more than 7 v 7, you must be 10 on or before 31st August (FA Rule 4). Under 10s can play in Under 11 football providing they are playing no more than 7 v 7.
4)To play in an open age competition a player must have achieved the age 16, (effective from the 2007-08 season). (FA Rule 4)
5) To play in an Under 18 age bracket competition the player must have achieved the age of 15 by midnight on 31st August of the playing season. (FA Rule 4)
THE NORMAL RUNNING OF YOUR CLUB
This is an outline guide to running your club during a typical season:
LEAGUE BUSINESS – PRE-SEASON
Make sure your application is in to the appropriate league, make enquiries as to the process in plenty of time as late entries are not usually accepted.
Make sure your affiliations with the Devon FA and your local League are paid.
Leagues normally have an AGM which you should attend and at which you may obtain the documents required to take you through the season.
It is recommended to hold your own club pre-season meeting/AGM, in May or as early as possible, to ascertain that you will have the numbers and resources to be able to enter a team. Appoint officers for the club to carry out duties such as the Chairman and Treasurer’s role.
A lot of League business is undertaken by e-mail and you should ensure that you have a working e-mail address that will be accessible regularly by you or someone in your absence. It is advised that you check your email once every 24 hours. You are strongly advised to add any League Officer’s email addresses to your list of accepted addresses so that our messages do not end up in your spam folders.
If the league has a website this may be used to publish news and may be available to clubs who wish to publicize things like fund raising events. You should check your league website often.
Make sure your pitch and facilities will be available and to the standard required by the division you are playing in. (Contact the League Secretary if there is a foreseeable problem with the pitch and facilities not being of the standard required as soon as possible.)
Arrange insurance paperwork for your players and, if applicable, send a copy of the certificate to your pitch hirers.
REGISTRATION OF PLAYERS
A supply of registration forms will be supplied to you by your League and they may be downloadable from the League website.
Registration forms must be completed correctly, legibly and fully. All boxes on the form must be completed. Any information required on the form but not provided may result in the player being ruled ineligible.
The Registrations Secretary will, at the start of the season, publish a date from which forms can be submitted.
Check if there is a deadline during the season (often March 31st) after which new players cannot be registered or transferred.
Keep your own list of all registered players and their home addresses, phone numbers and dates of birth.
NEVER list an unregistered player on the team sheet or there will be a fine/forfeited match.
Forms must normally be posted or hand delivered to the League Registration Secretary. To play in League games the form must be received by a certain time/day and this should be checked with your League.
Most leagues will have a transfer form that should be fully completed. Any details missing may result in the transfer being rejected.
Forms are normally posted or hand delivered to the League Registration Secretary.
Transfer must be undertaken in accordance with your particular League’s rules and the Devon FA’s rules on transfers.
The Club Secretary is the official contact point for other clubs and the league. Failure to respond to emails and/or correspondence maybe classed as a failure to attend to league business.
If you are away for a week or more, your League will probably require yo to notify the League Secretary with contact details of a deputy. As long as the League Secretary has been notified, that deputy should have the same powers as you, ie be able to sign registration/transfer forms but check this with your League.
For short term absences the Club Chairman is normally able to fill in for the Club Secretary and may sign registration and transfer forms but check this with your League.
PRE-MATCH (Away Games)
You should be contacted by the Secretary of the opposing team a certain number of days before the match to confirm venue, kick off time – Ensure you know where their pitch is;
Tell the secretary the colour of the shirts you will be wearing which should be as notified to the Devon FA and us, if your colours clash it is either the home or away team’s responsibility to change strip (check your League rules as to which it is);
Ensure that your team members know where the match is and what time kick off is, when and where you will be meeting prior to the game to arrange transport;
PRE-MATCH (HOME GAMES ONLY)
Phone the secretary of the opposition a certain number of days before the match to confirm venue, kick off time and check there is not a clash of colours;
If there is/may be a clash of colours, the home or away team should use their change strip – Ensure that this is brought along in case the other team forgets;
Phone the referee a certain number of days before the match to confirm venue & kick off time;
Most leagues have a Referee’s Appointment Secretary who will issue a list of appointments, normally on a monthly basis. You should check this list as soon as you get it. If there is no referee appointed, contact the Referee’s Appointment’s Secretary to see if there is one spare, if none are available try to find a volunteer (ensure the other team’s secretary is aware of the referee situation). If a person does agree to be a volunteer they should be treated exactly the same as an official referee and they also have the same powers.
Every effort is made by a Referee’s Appointment’s Secretary to allocate a ref so you should not call off the game until late Saturday morning if you have still not been allocated a ref.
If applicable, check with the appropriate person (Groundsman/Caretaker etc) that the pitch is playable and has been marked out adequately;
ALWAYS take along blank team sheets – if you are not attending, ensure that someone else takes one;
Make sure that two (or more, depending on your League’s rules) adequate match balls will be available.
If the match is abandoned a report should be made to your League Secretary immediately by both teams explaining the circumstances.
The matter will be put before the next meeting of the Management Committee for a decision to be made on whether the game needs to be rearranged or whether the result may stand.
Clubs should indicate their preference in their report.
The team sheet should still be forwarded to the League Registration Secretary as normal.
You should check your own League’s rules regarding postponements as these can differ, however, if a referee considers the pitch unfit for play, their decision is final;
Once a match has been postponed (whether Saturday or several days before) you must notify the following:
The Secretary of the opposing team
The place where you meet after the game that may be providing refreshments
Any Agency or person that collates your League’s results
The Fixtures Secretary (in writing/email giving a reason) ASAP
All postponed matches should be rearranged as soon as possible in accordance with your League’s rules;
The Secretary of the home team should take the initiative;
Keep an up to date fixtures list handy by the phone;
Once a new date has been agreed you must notify the following:
The Fixtures Secretary (in writing/email)
The person you hire the pitch from (for home games)
The place you have your refreshments at after the game (for home games)
All players including your web site if applicable
Remember to update your fixture list
Take the pad of team sheets and complete your side. Ensure any players to be played, including substitutes, are registered. Make sure the pad is given to the away team with enough time for them to complete their side of the sheet.
Make sure the pitch is set up, nets and flags. If it is a public open space please ensure that any dogs mess or other foreign items are removed from the pitch prior to kick off.
Both Clubs should provide a suitable person to act as assistant referees.
Get the team sheet back after the game and make sure the referee completes his information before checking both teams have signed and scored the referee. If the mark for the referee and/or any signature is missing then you may be fined. It is both teams responsibility to make sure the team sheet is fully completed.
Pay the referee before the game. That is the rule but they may say to wait until after the game which is acceptable. Payments must be made in cash unless you have agreed an alternative method with the referee prior to the game.
POST-MATCH (ON MATCH DAY)
Phone results in to your League’s collator of results, this may be an Agency or a designated person;
Check your League’s rules regarding reporting results if it is a midweek game.
If you are not attending, ensure that someone else will do this;
Ensure that both teams have given the referee a score and signed the sheet; a team may be fined if this is not done.
If the referee score is 60 or less then the club will need to write a report explaining the reasons (it does not have to be done by the Club Secretary and is normally a job for the manager). This must be sent to the Appropriate League Secretary within 5 working days. These are forwarded to the Area Co-Ordinator who sends them to the Devon FA where they are reviewed by the Referee’s Development Officer.
Keep a running total of games played, games won, goals scored, players, substitutes used, scorers, bookings and referee scores etc.
Send in the team sheet (for home games) to the League Registration Secretary ASAP – it will probably need to be received with a certain number of working days after the game. Your League may also require a results card to be completed.
SECTION TWO – SPECIFIC MATTERS
All fines issued by your League must be paid within a certain number of days of the date of posting of the written notification. If not paid there may be further penalties.
For Devon FA fines, they send the paperwork for yellow/red cards to the relevant player’s Club Secretary. Your Club is responsible for paying Devon FA fines and not the player. It is your club’s duty to collect payment from the player (if you have difficulties doing this the Devon FA can assist but there is a strict time limit). Ensure the form is completed correctly (both secretary and the player have to sign the form) and a cheque is returned ON TIME, your club is responsible for paying the fine and gaining reimbursement from the player.
GENERAL FIXTURES INFORMATION
Fixtures are arranged at the beginning of the season by the League Fixtures Secretary and is a highly complex task. Your fixtures will be available to view on a League website or you will be supplied with a paper copy.
Fixtures can only be moved with the authorization of the League Fixtures Secretary.
Rearranged fixtures should be done as soon as possible and the initiative should be taken by the home team. If a new date cannot be agreed contact the League Fixtures Secretary who will decide a date for you.
Failing to fulfill a fixture will normally result in a fine and possibly a deduction of 3 points, and the match will be awarded to the opposition.
PLAYERS IN DEBT
You should be chasing players for money as the debt arises. You should not leave the collection of monies until the end of the season as you may not be covered under the Devon FA Debt Recovery Procedure. For amounts owing you should check your County FA handbook for the County FA debt policy.
There may be some variations for Cup games and you should check your League Rules.
Devon FA Cup Competitions have their own rule which can be found in the County Handbook which is issued to all clubs.
Your League should have a guide to assist you and you managers to mark the referee. If not, contact the Devon FA who will be able to supply you with one.
In order for there to be an accurate assessment of the referee you must give this mark in a responsible manner. Just because you lost the game does not mean that you should not give the referee a good mark.
If you do mark 60 or below remember that a letter in support of a low marking must be sent within ab certain number of working days to the appropriate League Secretary. These letters are passed to the County FA and are used to identify where assistance to the referee may be required. It is therefore a waste of time giving a referee a mark of 61 just because you want to make a point but you are too lazy to do a letter, unless of course that is the genuine mark awarded.
If you have a protest about the pitch or facilities you must state your grievance with the referee prior to the game. You must follow this up with the League normally within 4 days and the Management Committee will decide on the appropriate action.
All protests must be deposited with your League Secretary usually including a fee which may be returned to you.
Appeals against decisions of your League Management Committee may be made to the Devon County FA.
Trophies must be kept in good order, engraved and returned by the requested date.
ALTERATIONS TO RULES
Rules may only be altered at the AGM or at a Special General Meeting.
Clubs may propose rule changes each season, they must be submitted to your League Secretary by a date that will be in the League Rules.
Those proposals will be circulated to Clubs and amendments invited.
All rules are subject to sanction by the Devon FA.
The Devon FA has a fund and your League may have one as well. The fund exists to provide a small grant to players injured during applicable games if they are within the rules of the fund.
Claims should be made on the form that can be obtained from Devon FA or your League.
The form can be completed by someone other than the injured player but it must be signed by the injured player.