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Norfolk FA determined to ‘break the myth’ around cost of playing football

Norfolk and District Sunday League Cup Final between Acle Rangers ( yellow/blue )v AFC Wanderers. Photo: Steve Adams

Norfolk and District Sunday League Cup Final between Acle Rangers ( yellow/blue )v AFC Wanderers. Photo: Steve Adams

Norfolk FA is looking to “break down the myths” surrounding the cost of local football.

Annual events to ‘expand the referee’s toolkit’

Norfolk FA want to “expand the referee’s toolkit” after the survey revealed the standard of matchday officials was a contributory factor in the decline of grassroots football.

Referees will attend annual CPD events to ensure their knowledge of the game is up to the standard required and there will also be a “man management” element to the course, which should help in the kind of conflict situations that inevitably arise during 90 minutes of football.

“We are looking to enhance them (referees) next season and try to add even more tools to the referee’s toolkit to make it even more enjoyable for them to referee a game,” said chief executive Shaun Turner, who believes referees receive unfair criticism at times from players each weekend.

“We’re going to have to expand a bit more on their assessment of knowledge just to make sure they are up to date with the laws of the game. As the sole guardian of that 90 minutes of football we have a responsibility to make sure they are up to date with it all.

“We are also going to do a bit of work on man management with them. A lot of issues are around conflict and how you deal with people and that’s a two-way thing.

“We are going to do some workshops to assist them and then we will be doing some general updates around fitness and responsibilities to the game.

“At times it’s quite tough for referees and they do get an unfair battering. I would say 98pc of our referees do a good job. The two per cent need a bit of help, care and guidance to try and make them better or they need to be dealt with.” Turner has also put forward a proposal for referee fees to be the same across the board to help clubs budget.

After the survey revealed many players in Norfolk felt the game had become too expensive at grassroots level, the FA set about analysing how much it costs each player to have a game every weekend.

All factors were considered and the FA averaged out a figure of £5 to ensure all running costs for the club were covered.

The FA argue, with good reason, that other activities people get up to at the weekend provide far less value for money and have started a campaign highlighting this.

“There is a flyer that we will be sharing asking how much it actually costs to have a game,” said chief executive, Shaun Turner. “We looked at everything from the Anglian Combination First Division downwards and worked out that it actually only costs a fiver to play football every week.

“I don’t honestly think there’s a lot you can do for a fiver – if you want to bowl it’s £10.50, if you want a pint of beer it’s £4, if you want to go to a nightclub it’s £7 to get in. We’ve tried to put it into context that football isn’t expensive when it’s played correctly.

“We’ve obviously had to take an average of fees because we appreciate pitch hire might be more expensive in Norwich than it is in King’s Lynn for example but we feel £5 is about right.”

Turner believes the majority of clubs must become stricter in collecting subs fees from their players. Too often players forget to pay and it often falls upon the club to make up the shortfall at the end of the season leaving them in debt.

This has to change, according to Turner and the FA has struck a deal with Barclays to provide free banking to clubs.

Clubs can then give their players the opportunity to pay directly into this account, thus making the administration that much easier for club secretaries.

“The biggest thing we’ve come across is that for whatever reason some clubs struggle to take money off the players,” said Turner.

“We need to educate people and modernise clubs that can cause their own problems at times by not collecting the money.

“If we can get a system in place where we are strict and everyone pays their money. We’re not saying it should be a fiver – that’s just the average we have worked out.

“Can it be we can get players to transfer money electronically? Can we get players to set up a direct debit? Can they pay two lump sums during the season?”

Turner insists clubs won’t be forced to go digital in their administration but hopes to incentivise those that do.

“We will never force anyone to run their entire club online,” he added. “What we’re trying to do is incentivise people to use it online – we’re not sure how we’re going to do that yet – it might be financially, it might be in kit. “For the traditionalist that wants to do everything by cheque and come into the office that option will always be available because they are as important as people who can embrace the smartphone etc.

“But we will be incentivising to go online because it saves everyone time and money.”

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