2. GENERAL RULES FOR ALL COMPETITIONS
a. Qualification of players:
i. Only students who are bona fide scholars, receiving full-time education, and on the roll of an affiliated school, shall be allowed to take part in competitions. Players shall normally become ineligible, immediately on leaving school or commencing full-time employment, but a student in attendance at the close of the Easter Term shall nevertheless be eligible to play in competitions until the end of the season. A student on roll of a primary school shall only be eligible for the Batchelor and Primary Cup competitions.
ii. No student shall be able to play for more than one School or District during any one season, except with the written consent of the Management Committee.
iii. In all competitions managed by the Association, a maximum of three players who attend the same FA Licensed Academy / Centre of Excellence run by a club that employs contract players and who attend a Partner School to such a club, can participate in a match; participation of the three licensed players to mean their inclusion in the named starting squad. (This Rule, therefore, does not apply to non-Partner Schools).
iv. Any player who represents his school of college in three or more matches in a competition other than a “schools” competition shall then be ineligible to play in competitions managed by the Association. The Management Committee shall publish from time to time a list of competitions are classed as “non-schools” for the purposes of this rule.
v. Any District or School which fields one or more ineligible players shall be dealt with at the discretion of the Management Committee. The standard punishments for the fielding of ineligible players shall be:
• League Matches: any points won by a team fielding ineligible players shall be deducted from their total and deductions shall be taken into consideration when determining qualification for Play-Offs or similar.
• Cup Matches: Any team fielding ineligible players shall be removed from the competition and their opponents reinstated.
b. Teams to be accompanied:
In all competition matches, each team must be accompanied by an acting or retired Qualified Teacher (QTS), a past or present employee of the Education Service or an adult other than a teacher (AOTT) who holds relevant coaching, Emergency Aid and Safeguarding Children qualifications, as recognised. Applications for AOTT status must be made to the General Secretary in accordance with ESFA Regulations.
c. Playing Kit:
All teams participating in the Association’s competitions shall do so in kit that only reflects the identity of their District or School as appropriate and not that of any other club or academy unless written permission to wear alternative clothing has been given in writing by the Management Committee. This regulation shall apply to all participants, including players, coaches and support staff.
d. Mixed Football:
Mixed football shall be permitted, in accordance with the rules of The Football Association. This provision shall not preclude the Association from organising separate competitions for boys and girls.
e. Format of matches:
i. Matches shall be played in such formats as determined by The Football Association and the number of players and pitch dimensions shall at all times be consistent with The FA’s regulations on the matter. For instance, no Primary Schools or Under-11 Representative Teams shall be permitted to play 11v11 football. The Laws of Association Football shall apply in all competitions, including any revisions as made from time to time by IFAB or The Football Association.
ii. The dimensions of pitches shall be consistent with The Football Association’s regulations for Youth Football. Guidance as to the minimum and maximum size of pitches can be found in “The FA Guide to Pitch and Goalpost Dimensions”.
iii. A Size 5 ball shall be used in competitions for age groups from Under-15 upwards. A Size 4 ball shall be used in all other competitions, unless otherwise directed by The Football Association.
iv.The duration of matches shall be as follows:
• 40 minutes each way – All competitions at age groups Under-15 and upwards
• 35 minutes each way – Under-13 and Under-14 matches
• 30 minutes each way – Under-12 matches, including the Kay Cup for schools and the Watkin Cup for districts
• 25 minutes each way – 7v7 Matches involving primary school-age children (for example, in the Batchelor and Alf Gant Cup competitions)
v.In 11v11 and 9v9 matches, up to five substitutes may be named. All five may be used and when a player is substitute, they shall become a substitute themselves and permitted to return to the field if required.
vi. In matches played in other formats, the provision for substitutes shall be in accordance with the decisions of The Football Association, in so far as the number of substitutes may be reduced. Repeat substitutions shall be permitted in all competitions.
f. Arrangement of matches:
i. Matches may be played at any time that is mutually agreed by the teams concerned. Both Saturday mornings and weekday afternoons are acceptable.
ii. Matches other than Finals may be played on a local private or enclosed ground where gate money may be taken. A school ground, which otherwise fulfils the conditions of the rules, shall be acceptable. All grounds shall be adequately equipped with dressing accommodation within reasonable distance, and properly marked. Such matches may also be played on other grounds mutually agreed by competing Districts or Schools.
iii. Matches may be played on artificial pitches, provided this is agreed in advance by both teams and the footwear requirements notified of all concerned in accordance with section (iv), below.
iv.It is the responsibility of both teams to contact their opponents at the earliest opportunity to fix a date for the match, which shall ideally be well in advance of the “closing date” for the fixture. They should also include details of the venue for the match, including directions and the colours to be worn by their team.
v.It is the responsibility of both teams to acknowledge receipt of such particulars within 24 hours of receipt and confirm the colours that their team shall wear. In the event of a clash of colours, the “Away” team shall change.
vi.All reasonable efforts must be made to secure a mutually agreed date, within the timescales pertinent to that competition. Any disputes must be referred immediately to the relevant Competition Secretary, whose decision shall be final.
vii.Should the “Home” team be unable to provide a suitable venue, then the choice shall revert to their opponents.
viii.Once the date of a match has been fixed, both teams must promptly notify the relevant Competition Secretary by email of the agreed date. A minimum of one week’s notice is required for all fixtures, except Finals. Once a date for any match has been agreed by the two teams, then it may only be postponed for one of the following reasons:
• Inclement weather and/or an unplayable pitch.
• One or both teams being required to play a match in a different competition which takes precedence (i.e. ESFA Competitions).
For the avoidance of doubt, the order of precedence for inter-school competitions is as follows:
1. Matches in ESFA Competitions
2. Matches in MSFA Cup Competitions
3. Matches in MSFA League Competitions
4. Matches in Borough Cup Competitions
5. Matches in Borough League Competitions
6. Friendly fixtures
For District teams, the only fixtures which take precedence over those in MSFA Competitions are those in ESFA Competitions. Postponing a match in an MSFA Competition in order to fulfil a non-schools fixture (i.e., in a "club" League) or in a competition organised by another County Schools' Football Association is not permitted.
• Three or more players from one team being called up to play in a Schools Representative Match scheduled on the same day. This might be an inter-district match or a County Representative Team fixture in a sanctioned competition.
• Exceptional circumstances, as agreed with the Competition Secretary
ix.Any team failing to keep their engagement for reasons other than those listed above (such as insufficient players) shall be subject to the following sanctions:
• In League Competitions: Where a team fails to fulfil a fixture without due cause, the match shall be awarded to their opponents, who shall receive the points from the match but no adjustment to their goal difference. The match shall not be rescheduled.
• In Cup Competitions: Where a team fails to fulfil a fixture without due cause, that team shall be removed from the competition.
• In all Competitions: If a team is not present at the match venue by the previously agreed kick-off time, then they shall be deemed to be absent and their opponents may, if they wish, refer the fixture to the relevant Competition Secretary as an unfulfilled fixture. If a school wishes to claim the fixture in this way, then the match shall not be played and the fixture shall be considered as per the provisions above.
x.The relevant Competition Secretary must be contacted immediately if a match is postponed, or if there may be a problem with playing the match before the relevant deadline. The Competition Secretary shall have discretion to determine the arrangement of the fixture and their decision shall be final.
xi.The Competition Secretary shall have the ability to extend the closing date of any round if necessary, to award the match to one team if the other is deemed to be at fault, or to use other methods such as the drawing of lots or the toss of a coin, to determine the outcome of a Cup tie.
xii.All matches under the control of the Association shall be played in accordance with the Association’s “Competitions Code of Conduct”.
g. Appointment of Match Officials:
i. Both Districts and individual Schools are responsible for appointing a referee for their Home games, and their duties shall be in accordance with the laws of the game as sanctioned by The Football Association. Assistance may be sought from a local Referees' Association if required. Each team must provide an assistant referee who is either an adult or a qualified referee. Neutral referees are required for all Semi-Finals and Finals.
ii.In the event of a referee failing to appear, the School or Association must agree in writing at the ground on a suitable match official, so that the game shall be conducted in accordance with the rules. The official so acting shall have the power of a duly appointed referee.
iii.The match officials only shall be allowed on the field of play and under no circumstances shall coaching be permitted during the progress of the match. Referees are instructed to enforce this rule.
v.Students should only be used to referee matches if:
• they are registered with a County Football Association,
• qualified to Level 8 or higher
• aged a minimum of two years older than the players
The opposition must have agreed to the appointment of a student referee beforehand. It is not advisable that they be allowed to referee Cup games involving their own School.
h. Notification of Results
The Home Team shall be responsible for reporting the result of each match to the relevant Competition Secretary, by email or other approved means, as soon as practical after the match but in all cases within two days.
i. Determining Championship within League Competitions
The following provisions shall apply to all competitions organised on a League basis.
i.In all competitions played on a League basis three points shall be awarded for a win, with one point per team for a drawn match.
ii.In the event of equality of points in league competitions, positions shall be decided first on goal difference, then on goals scored, then on the "head to head" records of the tied teams.
iii.In League Competitions, there shall be a closing date after which no further matches will be played. It shall be at the discretion of the relevant Competition Secretary to determine whether any remaining fixtures shall be left unplayed, recorded as a 0-0 draw or awarded to one of the teams involved. In making their decision, the Competition Secretary shall take into account the reasons for the match(es) not being played. Matches should only be awarded if one team is clearly responsible for the fixture not being completed.
iv.At no time will “double-headers” or a single match for six points be permitted in League Competitions, although there will be no prohibition on multiple fixtures involving the same Schools or Districts taking place simultaneously. That is, it is permissible for 1st XI and 2nd XI matches between Schools, or Inter-District matches across multiple age groups, to be staged at the same time if facilities allow.
j. Trophies and Medals
i.The Association shall hold Trophies in perpetuity for each of its competitions. They may not be won outright.
ii.Trophies shall be held by the winning team during the ensuing year and up to 16 medals shall be awarded to all students playing in the Finals, and to League Champions and runners-up.
iii.A player dismissed from the field of play by the referee during a Final shall only receive a medal at the discretion of the Disciplinary Committee.
iv.The holders of the trophies shall make good any damage incurred, be responsible for the inscription, and shall at their own expense, take trophies to the grounds at which the finals are played or to an alternative venue at the request of the Committee. Schools/Districts failing to comply with this rule may be refused entry to the following season’s competition or even have their affiliation to the Association suspended.