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Discipline

This discipline section gives procedures that will be followed when discipline reports are received from a referee who has officiated in an ESFA, Durham CSFA or local association Competition match.

Association Secretaries are advised to seek guidance from ESFA Headquarters when dealing with complex cases (e.g. when a player has been sent off or reported for misconduct during or after a match, when a match has had to be abandoned or when a member of staff has been reported for misconduct).

Discipline within Durham CSFA is now managed by ESFA at Stafford.

Under The FA rules for dealing with field offences, schools' football is a separate category. All suspensions for offences committed in schools' football are served in Schools' Football only, with the exception of cases of further misconduct where the suspensions relate to all football. Suspensions received by players when playing in Youth football are served in Youth football - not in schools' football. Reciprocal agreements between County FAs and the ESFA therefore are only in place for suspensions served for cases of further misconduct.

As of January 2013, discipline in Schools Football will be split into two separate categories:

  • 1. Representative football
  • 2. Inter-school football.

Therefore, if a player is dismissed from the field of play for a standard red card offence whilst representing his/her District or County SFA then the suspension will only apply to representative football competition matches ( Inter-district or Inter-county). Moreover, if the player is sent off whilst playing for his/her school football team, then the suspension will only apply to Inter-school competition matches.

The list of standard recommended punishments for sending off offences is set out on the following pages. Fines are imposed in Schools' Football which the School / College / Association is liable for payment, not the player. The School, College or Association must not try to recover the fee from the player or player's family. Each report requires the payment of a £10.00 administrative fee. If not paid by the School, College or Association by the given date there will be a further £20.00 late payment penalty. Further late payment penalties may be incurred. Non receipt of these monies could lead to the suspension from all football of the relevant School, College or Association.

Disciplinary procedures must commence no later than 90 days and the outcome determined no later than 180 days from the receipt of a report of alleged misconduct or be otherwise void. If deemed reasonable, any period of delay requested or caused by the participant shall not count towards the 90 /180 days.

Copies of various standard forms can be found on the ESFA webslte.

1. SCHOOLS / COLLEGES / ASSOCIATIONS / TEAM OFFICIALS CHARGED WITH MISCONDUCT

Schools / Colleges / Associations are responsible for everyone that represents them. They must conduct themselves in a proper manner. FA Rule E20 can be used to charge Schools, Colleges or Associations following incidents of poor player, official or spectator management. FA Rule E20 reads:

(a) "that its players, officials, employees, servants, representatives, spectators, and all persons purporting to be its supporters or followers, conduct themselves in an orderly fashion and refrain from any one or a combination of the following: racist, violent, threatening, abusive, obscene, or provocative behaviour, conduct or language whilst attending at or taking part in a match in which it is involved whether on its own ground or elsewhere

(b) that no spectators or unauthorised persons are permitted to encroach on to the pitch area save for reasons of crowd safety, or to throw missiles, bottles or any other potentially harmful or dangerous objects at or on to the pitch"

Schools, Colleges, Associations or team officials reported for misconduct by a referee will be charged with an offence. The Disciplinary Charge Form shall be used and adapted as necessary.

2. MISCONDUCT IN INTERNATIONAL MATCHES

Any player reported (or misconduct during an International Match shall be dealt with by the representatives of the Schools' Football International Board of the country for whom the offending player played. A player sent off in an International Match shall be suspended from the next International Match. (In accord with the Constitution of the Schools' International Board)

3. MEMORANDUM OF PROCEDURES FOR DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURES CONCERNING FIELD OFFENCES

This Memorandum cites procedures as they apply exclusively to Participants who are acting as Players when reported. (Note: the numbered paragraphs below correlate to The FA Handbook rules. Not all points are relevant to Schools' Football so they have been removed for the purpose of producing this handbook. However, the numbering of paragraphs has been retained to make it easier when referring back to The FA rules)

1. DEFINITIONS

1.1 In this Memorandum the words "the Association'' refer to the appropriate County or other Affiliated Association, and the words "the Association secretary" mean and include any person nominated to discharge a part of the regulatory and disciplinary administration of the Association as well as its actual secretary and Disciplinary Commission means a commission established by the appropriate Association. (Note: schools using this memorandum should replace the word "club" with the word "school")

1.2 Wherever gender is referred to in this Memorandum, either shall be inferred, as relevant.

1.5 Wherever "written" or "letter" is referred to in this Memorandum this is deemed to include communication by fax, e-mail or any other form of electronic online communication. Where an Association chooses to communicate by fax or e-mail or other electronic means, it must take all reasonable steps to ensure that the address or fax number used is current.

1.10 Financial penalties for misconduct must not be imposed on any player in Youth Football. Where a Standard Punishment or Regulatory Commission decision applicable to a Youth Football player includes any financial sanction then the player's club is liable for the sum imposed. (Note: this procedure also applies to Schools' Football)

2. TIMING

Disciplinary procedures shall commence no later than 90 days, and the outcome determined no later than 180 days from receipt of the report of alleged misconduct, or otherwise be void. If deemed reasonable, any period of delay requested or caused by the Participant will not count towards the 90/180 days. For all cases where an interim suspension order has been imposed or for a matter involving an abandoned match or for playing whilst under a suspension, the County must aim to conclude any proceedings within 28 days. The Association must use due diligence to charge and/or finalise cases within the above periods of time and must conform with the requirements set out in this Memorandum, subject to the effects of the adoption by the Association of any of the alternative and optional powers set out in paragraph 20.

3. ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES - MATCH OFFICIAL REPORTS

An Association may reserve the right not to process a caution if the report is deemed to be invalid for any reason.

4. GENERAL

4.1 Without prejudice to the foregoing provisions of this Memorandum, an Association shall have the power to delegate to The Football Association or to another Affiliated Association its powers and duties to investigate and/or adjudicate in cases where it may be advantageous so to do.

4.2 If a referee omits to show the appropriate card when taking action against a player, this does not nullify the caution or sending-off offence. However, the attention of the referee should be drawn to the correct procedure.

4.3 A Participant consents to abide by the Laws of the Game, the Rules and Regulations of The Football Association or an affiliated Association and to reasonable proportionate disciplinary action when playing the game. The issue of a caution is a decision based on a question of fact on the Field of Play upon which the Referee's decision is final. The recording of the caution and the consequences that follow are both reasonable and proportionate. Cautions, not being the subject of appeal, do not breach the Human Rights Act 1998.

4.4 When a player is dealt with by a Disciplinary Commission cases must be dealt with on their merits and a punishment awarded consistent with the overall nature and effect of the offence(s); also the player's record of misconduct over the current and previous five seasons.

4.5 Associations will impose split suspension periods where matches have to be carried over to the following season. The last day of the first suspension period shall be the Player's team's last competitive match of the season. The suspension will recommence with that same team's start of the following season. Competitive matches are defined in paragraph 11.3.

4.6 It is the duty of the club secretary and the player, by the deadline stated on any notification, to ensure that the Association Secretary receives the completed player reply form with such information that includes:

(a) The full name and address of the Player.

(b) The Player's date of birth (and other personal identification data requested).

(c) The name of each club for which the player is currently registered or was registered in the previous two seasons.

(d) The signature of the Player concerned (where applicable).

(e) The names of any school, college or other educational establishment currently attended by the Player.

If the Player is not available to sign the pro-forma document, the club should complete and return it indicating the reason for the non-completion together with the administration fee and confirmation as to whether or not the Player has been made aware of the contents. Any suspension order resulting from failure to comply with 4.6 (a)-(e) above shall be on the Club and the individual player, subject to Section 16 below.

5. REPORTING OFFENCES BY MATCH OFFICIALS

(a) Caution Offences

Referees must submit to the relevant Association within two days of the match (Sundays not included) a Report stating the offence.

(b) Sending Off Offences

Referees and Assistant Referees must submit to the relevant Association within two days of the match (Sundays not included) a Report stating the offence(s) and giving a description of the incident(s).

6. CAUTION OFFENCES

A Player, who has been cautioned in a match, will be notified through his Club by the Association of the offence reported by the Referee. At the same time he will be advised of the total number of cautions recorded during the current season and, any punishment resulting from their accumulation. An administration fee of £10.00 will be charged for the processing of each report.

Any such punishment will take effect regardless of whether or not the notification of it from The Association is received before it is due to take effect in accordance with these Disciplinary Procedures.

7. SENDING OFF OFFENCES

A Player who has been sent off in a match under the provisions of Law 1 2 will be notified through his Club by the Association of the offence reported by the Referee, and at the same time advised that he will be subject to the agreed automatic punishment (see paragraph 11). An administration fee of £10.00 will be charged for the processing of each report. Any such punishment will take effect regardless of whether or not the notification of it from The Association is received before it is due to take effect in accordance with these Disciplinary Procedures.

8. CLAIMS OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY

In the case of a claim of alleged mistaken identity concerning a player cautioned or sent off in a match, the PLAYERS concerned and the CLUB must within three working days of the match submit in writing to the Association particulars upon which the claim is founded, including the right to claim Wrongful Dismissal. If the Association Secretary, or his nominees, are satisfied that the claim warrants further investigation, a Disciplinary Commission shall be convened and will meet within the 21 days before any automatic penalty is due to take effect. If the members of the appointed Disciplinary Commission are satisfied that mistaken identity has been proved in a case, the record of the offence will be transferred to the appropriate offender, who will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the provisions of the current Procedures. The relevant fee which MUST be included with the evidence is £30.The fee may be retained if the claim is deemed to be unfounded and be used in full or in part to cover any costs incurred by a Disciplinary Commission. In the event of the fee not covering the amount of costs charged, an additional amount may be charged by the Disciplinary Commission.

9. CLAIMS OF WRONGFUL DISMISSAL (note: see ESFA website)

10. PUNISHMENTS

10.1 Any period of suspension automatically imposed for a dismissal from the field of play will commence 21 days from the date of the offence irrespective of whether paperwork has been received from the relevant Association. The suspension will be complete once the Player's team has completed the appropriate number of matches, in approved competitions, according to the suspension as defined below under 10.3.

10.2 Any period of suspension automatically imposed as a result of cautions under 10.4 will commence 21 days from the date of the last offence irrespective of whether paperwork has been received from the relevant Association. The suspension will be complete once the Player's team has completed the appropriate number of matches, in approved competitions, according to the suspension as defined below under 10.3.

10.3 The matches that can be used to clear a Player of suspension are those to be played in a domestic competition organised by the English Schools' Football Association or one of its member associations. During periods of automatic suspension, the Player is suspended from playing in schools' football only. If the suspension is as a result of a misconduct charge, during the whole period of suspension the Player is suspended from playing all football (including friendly matches and other Cup Competitions). The categories of football affected by this regulation are Saturday, Sunday, Midweek, Youth, Veterans and Representative football. This will be deemed to be a suspension from playing only, unless specified otherwise by a Disciplinary Commission.

In exceptional cases where an application has been made to the County FA by the participant that the suspension from all football is considered as being disproportionately harsh due to the period taken to serve the suspension in relation to the other categories of football, the matter may be reviewed only by The Football Association and may then be amended to a category type suspension, at the Football Association's discretion.

Where a Player has to serve more than one suspension at the same time the following criteria will apply:

(i) Any suspensions awarded under the provisions of these procedures and due to commence on the same date will result in the total number of matches involved running consecutively.

(ii) Any suspensions that overlap, in that the next one starts before the previous one ends, will also run consecutively as above.

(iii) Matches cannot be used more than once to cover two or more suspensions.

(iv) Any suspension imposed under the provisions of these procedures that is or will be affected by a period based suspension will automatically commence 21 days from the date of the offence. The matches to be used in relation to this suspension may be before and/or after the period based suspension. The two suspensions cannot run concurrently.

10.4 Cautions Administered On The Field Of Play

(i) If a Player accumulates five cautions within the same category of football, but receives the 5th caution between the opening day of the Playing Season and the 31st December in the same Season, he will be suspended automatically for a period covering one match plus a fine of £15.

(ii) If a Player accumulates five cautions within the same category of football between the opening day of the Playing Season and the last day of the same Season, he will be warned as to his Future Conduct.

(iii) A Player who has already been subject to disciplinary action as a result of five cautions and then goes on to receive a further five cautions during the same Season, will be subject to the following punishments: -

(iv) If a Player accumulates ten cautions within the same category of football between the opening day of the Playing Season and the second Sunday of April in the same Season, he will be suspended automatically for a period covering two matches plus a fine of £15.

If in the final match before the second Sunday of April a player accumulates his tenth caution in any Competition since the opening day of the Playing season and then receives a second caution in the same match and consequently is dismissed, the player will be suspended automatically for a period covering two matches plus a fine of £15. This two match suspension will automatically apply in such cases, instead of the one match automatic suspension which would otherwise apply to a player who is sent off for receiving two cautions in the same match.

(v) If a Player accumulates ten cautions within the same category of football between the opening day of the Playing Season and the last day of the same Season, he will be Severely Censured and Warned as to his future Conduct.

(vi) If a Player accumulates fifteen cautions within the same category of football between the opening date of the Playing Season and the last day of the same Season, he will be suspended automatically for a period covering three matches plus a fine of £15.

(viii) Any period of suspension or part that remains outstanding at the end of a Season must be served at the commencement of the following Season.

10.5 (a) PLAYERS SENT OFF UNDER LAW 12 (7)

Subject to the provision of 10.4(a)(iv) above, a Player who is dismissed from the Field of Play for receiving a second caution in the same match will be suspended automatically commencing on the 21st day following the match in which he was sent off, until such time as his Team has completed one match in an approved competition, as per 10.3, and fined the sum of £15.

(b) PLAYERS SENT OFF UNDER LAW 12 (4) and (5) A Player who is dismissed from the Field of Play for denying a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by physical means or by handling the ball, will be suspended automatically commencing on the 21st day following the match in which he was sent off, until such time as his Team has completed one match In an approved competition, as per 10.3, and fined the sum of £15.

(c) PLAYERS SENT OFF UNDER LAW 12 (6) A Player who is dismissed from the Field of Play for using offensive or insulting or abusive language/gestures whether he has previously been cautioned in the match or not, will be suspended automatically commencing on the 21 st day following the match in which he was sent off, until such time as his Team has completed two matches in an approved competition, as per 10.3, and fined the sum of £25.

(d) PLAYERS SENT OFF UNDER LAW 12 (1), (2) and (3) A Player who is dismissed from the Field of Play for Violent Conduct, Serious Foul Play or spitting at an opponent or any other person whether he has previously been cautioned in the match or not, will be suspended automatically commencing on the 21st day following the match in which he was sent off, until such time as his Team has completed three matches in an approved competition, as per 10.3, and fined the sum of £25.

(e) ADDITIONAL SENDINGS OFF. Players dismissed from the Field of Play for a second time in the same Season, in addition to the automatic suspension applicable to the offence, will be suspended for one extra match. A Player dismissed for a third time in the same Season will be suspended for an extra two matches, and so on. A Disciplinary Commission, when dealing with a Claim of Wrongful Dismissal (paragraph 9) has the power not to invoke a further one match suspension if it so desires.

(f) OUTSTANDING SUSPENSIONS Any suspension or part thereof which remains outstanding at the end of a season must be served at the commencement of the following season.

(g) (Note: see ESFA website)

(h) RULE E3 OF THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION

A charge of Misconduct (as defined in and) pursuant to Rule E3 of the Rules of The Football Association may be brought against a player in relation to an incident, notwithstanding that the same incident has been dealt with pursuant to this Memorandum. A Disciplinary Commission considering a charge under Rule E3 of The Football Association in such circumstances, shall have regard to any punishment imposed under this Memorandum when considering any punishment under paragraph 18 of the Disciplinary Procedures to be used at Personal Hearings before Commissions requested by Participants of Clubs and Clubs dealt with by the Associations. (Note: details of punishments for offences under Rule E3 can be found on the ESFA website)

(i) (note: see ESFA website)

(j) RE-ARRANGED MATCHES A Disciplinary Commission shall have discretionary power to rule that a match shall not count towards the completion of a suspension if it is satisfied that the game has been arranged by the Club with a view to enabling a Player to complete his suspension and thus qualify him to play in a specific match.

11. AGGREGATE MISCONDUCT (CLUBS) (note: see ESFA website)

12. DISCIPLINARY ACTION ON CLUBS FOR MISCONDUCT BY THEIR PLAYERS (note: see ESFA website)

13. ABANDONED MATCHES

When a referee's report indicates that a match has been abandoned due to misconduct of either team, The English Schools' Football Association or appropriate Affiliated Association shall without delay investigate the official's report. If after such investigation, the chairman and secretary of the Association, or their nominees, are satisfied that a prima facie case can be made out against the Club/participants, such steps shall be taken as are necessary to ensure that a charge is preferred and that a Disciplinary Commission meets to consider the charge within 28 days of the date of the charge letter.

14. THREATENING OR PHYSICAL OFFENCES AGAINST MATCH OFFICIALS (note: see ESFA website)

15. ASSAULTS BY PARTICIPANTS ON OTHER PARTICIPANTS (note: see ESFA website)

16. FAILURE TO COMPLY (note: see ESFA website)

17. SUSPENSION PENDING MISCONDUCT HEARING (note: see ESFA website)

18. PERSONAL HEARING (note: see ESFA website)

19. FOOTBALL DEBT RECOVERY (note: see ESFA website)

20. FURTHER DISCIPLINARY ACTION (note: see ESFA website)

The FA's Discipline Handbook can be viewed by clicking here. It gives advice and guidance to discipline managers, clubs, schools and participating players.