The YEL and Referees Association announce an historic partnership

.‘Support for YEL referees in the East Midlands just got a whole lot better!’



The YEL have teamed up with The Referees’ Association in a ground breaking partnership which will see all of 350 match officials given the opportunity to become members of The RA with immediate effect.

‘The YEL will become the first league in the country to become a member of The RA’

Rob Harwood, CEO of YEL, said:

‘This is an exciting and very proud day for the YEL as we launch this ground breaking YEL/Referees’ Association partnership. The RA will bring a wealth of experience, support, encouragement and development to all of our referees, young and old alike, which will hopefully enhance their experience and encourage them to further their refereeing career.’

Paul Field, Chair of The RA, said:

We are delighted to have created this ground-breaking partnership with The Young Elizabethan League. As the first of its kind in our proud 113 year history, it will see all referees from the league become have the opportunity to be members of The Referees’ Association. This will not only improve The YEL refereeing workforce, but also provide all match officials with expert training, development and welfare support.’


Refereeing is a hugely important part of our game, and a skilled referee can make a major difference to the flow and fairness of a match. It is also extremely rewarding and the YEL invests heavily in supporting and encouraging the next generation of great referees…

How to become a referee and what sort of person you need to be

.‘Refereeing develops key life skills such as communication, decision making, confidence…and it also provides extra weekend spending money!’


The YEL offers a wide ranging refereeing experience from mini soccer (5v5/7v7) through to 9v9 and 11v11 games. There are over 1,200 teams featuring over 16,000 players aged from U7s to U14s. Every month around 2,000 referee appointments are made.


Referees come in all shapes and sizes however they all have a common desire to create the right, even handed environment for youngsters to enjoy a game of football.

On reaching their 14th birthday, boys and girls can take a County FA Referee course. There’s no upper age limit on candidates. Whilst most referees are likely to be still playing football (or have played in the past), this is not a necessity as full training is given on the laws of the game. Once the course has been completed, candidates should be able to referee their first games (usually mini soccer). 

Courses for new referees are constantly being run throughout the season. Details can be found on your local County FA website.

There’s no specific criteria which defines a referee. Provided you’re a fair, even minded person prepared to give it your best, you will be fine. Having a positive attitude and earning the respect of the players, parents and coaches right from the start will help – How you respond to initial emails/texts; What time you arrive at the ground; How you introduce yourself; What your appearance says about you; How you use your whistle; How you engage with the players and coaches during the game; How enthusiastic you are. All of these are really important considerations. If you tick all of these boxes, you will have a great time and find refereeing very rewarding. If you don’t…. well always remember that football can be a very passionate game!


Local referee appointed to National Youth Referee Development Team

‘Two things you are in control of in your life – your attitude and your effort’

Local referee, Hannah Gardner, has been appointed to a national refereeing body to help the development of young referees up and down the country.

Andy Smith, YEL Referee Liaison commented on the news of Hannah’s appointment, ‘We are absolutely delighted to get the news that our very own Hannah Gardner, YEL Referee, has been appointed to the National Youth Referee Development Team. Her enthusiasm that she shows week in, week out and her desire to share first hand her experiences will be a massive asset to the NYRDT’

The NYRDT is a body which listens to and takes the views of, a wide age range of referees to ensure that the future of refereeing is fashioned around the needs of those who need it the most – The young referees!


Hannah Gardner in action

‘Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from making bad decisions’


What does Hannah’s appointment mean to the YEL?

Rob Harwood, CEO of the league, commented, ‘Having seen Hannah develop as a young referee over the last few years, it is no surprise she has been selected to join the National Youth Referee Development Team. It is a tremendous achievement and a notable accolade for the league. It also helps shine a light on the tremendous work Andy Smith does behind the scenes assisting young referees in gaining the confidence to develop themselves into stars of the future. We are very proud of Hannah – another success story from the YEL team!’

So just who is Hannah Gardner and how did she get to become a role model for young referees joining the YEL. We caught up with her and asked her a few questions to get an insight into this young rising star.

YEL: When did you start refereeing?
Hannah: I started refereeing when I was 14

YEL: Whereabouts in the area do you live?
Hannah: I live in Southwell, Nottinghamshire

YEL: What made you want to get into refereeing?
Hannah: I started out refereeing my younger brother’s team when they didn’t get appointed a ref as my dad was the manager, from there I took a real interest into refereeing and when I turned 14 I booked myself onto a referees course to be able to do it officially.

YEL: What Leagues do you referee in?
Hannah: YEL, NSL – I have been fortunate enough to be selected to be part of the match official team on a couple of occasions throughout my refereeing career for the FA girls England Talent Pathway League, EMWFL & FA Women’s National League

YEL: What is your mentor role with Notts FA – how long have you been doing it?
Hannah: I did a course on mentoring with Notts FA, done it for around 1 year officially

YEL: Which team (if any) do you/did you play for?
Hannah: I played for Southwell City Ladies (not anymore)

YEL: What position do/did you play?
Hannah: I played centre back

YEL: Which referee inspires you?
Hannah: Rebecca Welch / Sian Massey

YEL: What makes you feel good on the pitch?
Hannah: When the players around you are enjoying the game and the atmosphere around the pitch is positive. ‘If you don’t notice me, I must have done a good job’

YEL: Where do you want to get to in the game?
Hannah: I would love to be able to officiate in the WSL

YEL: What causes you disappointment on the pitch?
Hannah: When there is an overall negative feel to the game, whether that be in abuse to a referee or just small comments to players, football is a game for us all to enjoy and if that isn’t the overall outcome that can be disappointing

YEL: What made you want to join the National Youth Referee Development Programme?
Hannah: I wanted to join the NYRDT programme to give something back for all the help and support received up to now, and also help others progress within the refereeing family

YEL: What is your best/proudest moment so far as a referee?
Hannah: Best moment/ proudest achievement in refereeing was getting appointed to an U16’s women’s international game for the first time based at Bisham Abbey. England vs Ireland

YEL: What is your worst moment in football?
Hannah: Worst moment in football was getting injured whilst playing a senior game last year, and consequently missing a lot of the season due to my injury, I damaged the lateral ligaments in my ankle due to a challenge in which the player received a red card.

Use YEL MATCH-UP to find a referee for your game at short notice. This invaluable live system tool is only accessible via Scoreline to authorised YEL members. 



Once a referee is appointed to a match – usually on the weekend prior to the game – an automated email will be sent from Full-Time detailing the date and time of the game, the two teams involved, the age group of the two teams and the location of the ground. A similar email is sent to both managers which also includes your contact details.

It is then the home team manager’s responsibility to confirm the appointment with the referee. He/she will either ring, email,text or Scoreline message. They should confirm the game, kick off time and ground location. Teams are required to make contact with referees by Monday evening at the latest. If nothing is heard by Wednesday lunchtime, prior to the game, the referee must message the YEL Referees Team to let them know using the ‘Contact the YEL’ menu item. Select ‘referees’ from the dropdown in the message to ensure it gets to the Referees Team.


The British weather from September to May – the YEL playing season – can be unpredictable, more so during the winter months and can cause matches to be postponed due to pitches being unfit or dangerous to play on.

If the weather is looking poor on match day – THINK! Is it worth checking with the manager of the home team that the game is still on? Check mobiles for text messages. email, missed calls, Scoreline message. Stay alert – keep checking.

If a game is called off by the club, they have a responsibility to contact the opposition AND the referee, provided they have already confirmed with the referee, earlier in the week, that the game is on and the referee has confirmed their attendance at the game. As soon as the game is postponed the club/team manager MUST contact the referee to advise that the game has been postponed AND receive confirmation from the referee that they have received the message. Simply sending a text or email and not receiving an acknowledgement is NOT good enough. Ideally they should phone and speak to the official directly.

If a referee attends the match having NOT received notification that the game has been cancelled, the referee is entitled to the FULL MATCH FEE from the club which is:

Mini soccer……….£15
U11 & U12………..£25
U13 & U14………..£30

If the referee arrives at the ground and call the game off on the day as they deem the playing conditions are hazardous or unfit, they are entitled to two thirds of their match fee as set out below:

Mini Soccer……….£10
U11 & U12………..£16
U13 & U14………..£20

Referees should report any club that fails to pay the appropriate match fee on the day. Referees should contact the Referees Team by Scoreline ‘Contact the YEL’ message button.


Referees have an availability diary on Scoreline, the YEL administration. Availability can be entered on a weekly basis (must be TEN DAYS OR MORE prior to the game) or monthly, in advance, if availability is known.
Scoreline automatically collates all availability from referees’ diaries which is then downloaded by YEL Referees Appointments on a Thursday/Friday prior to the games which require appointing. This download is only done once so it is the referees’ responsibility to ensure that the diary is up to date ten days prior to when they are available.

The availability asked for is quite specific to ensure as many games are covered as possible and referees get to referee as many games as they would like. Obviously this is not always possible but Referees Appointments do their best to try and accommodate everyone’s requests.
The various types of availability asked for are as follows:
AM – morning only – 1 game a day
AM2 – two games in the morning only
AM/PM – morning OR afternoon game only
PM – afternoon game only
BOTH – one morning and one afternoon game only
BOTH3 – max three games during the day
N/A – Not available
If a referee’s availability changes inside the ten days prior to the fixtures or if an appointment has been received, it is essential that the referee messages the league to advise – Contact the YEL button on Scoreline. If it is more than ten days before the fixtures are due to be played, the Referee Calendar simply needs updating.

Teams are required to make contact with referees by Monday evening at the latest. If nothing has been heard by Wednesday lunchtime, prior to the game, message the YEL Referees Team using ‘Contact the YEL’ button.

If the match has been confirmed by the home team manager, the referee should contact them straight away – either ring, text or email. It is the referee’s responsibility to ensure that the message has been received. Ask for a reply. Also message the YEL Referees Team so that everyone is aware and Full-Time can be updated. If the game hasn’t been confirmed by the home team manager, message the YEL Referees Team to advise so that Full-Time can be updated and then notify the manager if/when they try to confirm the game.


Make sure you are organised! Allow yourself plenty of time. Be calm. Be in control from the moment you get up!

  1. Make sure you are smart and well presented – clean kit, socks pulled up, clean boots – looking the part will give you an instant air of authority with the players, spectators and coaches
  2. Make sure you have all of your kit – whistle, cards, match sheet in your refs wallet, pencil, stopwatch, coin for tossing, flags
  3. If it is poor weather – THINK! Stay alert for emails, text messages, missed calls. Is it worth contacting the home team manager to see if the game is still on?
  4. Take your mobile with you and make sure you have the contact details of the manager. There is nothing worse than turning up at a ground where you think the game is only to find it all locked up and not have the contact information available to check
  5. Allow plenty of time for traffic. Aim to get to the ground around 30 mins before kick off. If arriving from another game, make sure the managers are aware of this – it is common courtesy and all part of good communication


  1. MAKE SURE YOU ARE AT THE GROUND AROUND 30 MINS BEFORE KICK OFF. Arriving less than ten minutes before the game (unless you’ve given notice and a reason beforehand) is discourteous, shows lack of interest and will not allow you time to do the required inspection and checks. Managers will be asked to report referees who turn up late
  2. Introduce yourself to the managers
  3. Clarify the rules that you are playing dependent on the age group. Obviously mini soccer games may have flexibility on foul throws, retreat lines, back passes etc. Take control by telling what you would normally do and ask them if they are happy with that
  4. If it is a U11 to U14 game find out who will be the assistant refs. Tell them what you would like them to do and how you want them to do it. It is your game.
  5. For U9 to U14s ask for and collect the team sheets off each manager 15 minutes before the advertised kick off time. Report any mangers who fail to supply them. This is MANDATORY and you could be in trouble for failing to enforce this league rule.
  6. Inspect the playing surface for any dangers; ask for the match ball and check it has the right pressure; assess the size of the pitch and goals to ensure they are the correct size for the age group; inspect the goals for any holes – get the home team to repair them/rectify the problem if you are not happy


  1. Five minutes before the appointed kick off time call the teams into the centre of the pitch – a good idea is to stand in the centre circle and give a blast on your whistle and wave them in – this again shows you are in charge.
  2. Oversee the ID check – All teams are aware that a YEL verified ID for each player must be produced using the ID sheets from Whole Game System or using FA Matchday on a mobile device. IF CHECKS ARE NOT COMPLETED BY EITHER/BOTH OF THE TEAMS YOU SHOULD ADVISE THE MANAGERS THAT THE GAME WILL BE NULL AND VOID AND THE RESULT OF ANY MATCH TAKING PLACE WILL NOT BE VALID. YOU MUST THEN REPORT THE OFFENDING TEAM(S) TO THE YEL AS THIS IS MANDATORY UNDER LEAGUE RULES. You could be in trouble if you do not report it and we become aware of it. The game can still go ahead but will be classed as a friendly. A match fee is still due.
  3. If the card check is carried out and a player is not on the registered ID list he/she cannot take part in the game. No questions, No exceptions
  4. Oversee the RESPECT handshake and complete the coin toss.

Whilst I am sure you could think of at least ten more things you personally need or ought to take to the game, the absolute essentials to successfully play a match are:



FLAGS (For U11s upwards)



If you have issued a card during a game then you need to submit it to the County FA on the Whole Game System.

Please visit and login using your details. If you don’t yet have a login, please contact the County FA. Once you’re logged in, by clicking on the referee administration button, a page will open which will allow you to add a fixture. Please complete all the information it asks for such and then save the fixture. You will then be able to add any cautions, dismissals or misconduct reports against players or club officials.

If you’ve not written a misconduct report before, then you might want to contact a mentor, a league official or the County FA for some support.

After you add your cautions and/or reports you will need to click save and then submit. You will get a message on screen thanking you for your submission. If you have had a particular incident in the game which is new to you or extraordinary, then you might want to download these reports and also submit them to the league.

If you require any assistance with submitting your reports then please don’t hesitate to contact Andrew Smith – Referees Officer at the YEL or the County FA.

If a serious injury occurs during your game, then make sure you stop play straight away and signal for the manager/coach to enter the field of play to treat the injured player.

You should stop your watch so you know how long you had played up until the injury occurred. Make sure you give the player enough space and talk to the manager about the severity of the injury at the appropriate time.

If the injury is serious then the team might need to call for an ambulance. If this is the case, then you should speak to both managers about how they feel about abandoning or continuing the game, also take into account the light in the winter months.

If the injury doesn’t require an ambulance you should still consult with the managers about how the players are feeling because as the referee you are responsible for the safety of the players and if some players don’t want to continue then you should take this into account.

Remember: this is Youth Football; players safety and welfare are your first concern as referee. If in doubt call the game off.

This a question we are asked time and time again. To become a referee is a relatively simple process. Provided you have reached the minimum age of 14, you simply need to take an FA Referees course which are arranged by the County FAs. Full details of the next courses can be found on the County FA websites. Google your local county FA and check their Referee section.

Taking and passing these courses is a great introduction to refereeing. The more time and effort individuals invest in refereeing, the more they will get out of it. It helps build confidence, teaches life skills and how to manage situations on the field which can be related to every day life situations including conflict resolution, decision making and a whole host of other things.

YEL referees get the full backing and support of the YEL Referees Team as well as the wider support provided by the local county FAs.

FA REPORTING VIA WHOLE GAME SYSTEM The FA require the following incidents to be reported from any match – a booking and/or a sending off, a match abandonment, any incidents of abuse including but not limited to racist comments, verbal abuse of an official, homophobic etc as well as any extraordinary event of note. The reports must all be made on Whole Game System immediately after the game.

YEL REFEREE MATCH REPORTS The YEL requires all referees to complete an online YEL Referee Match Report for every game they officiate. This is mainly a five minute job on Scoreline and includes the uploading of the team sheets (U9s to U14s only). Within this report is a Respect section. The YEL takes Respect very seriously and needs to safeguard the well being of everyone involved in YEL matches. Please make sure the report includes any incidents of inappropriate behaviour/conduct by and to anyone involved in the game. This includes team officials, match officials, players and spectators.

The YEL are constantly looking for new, enthusiastic referees who enjoy the unique challenges that youth football has to offer from the obvious one of refereeing down to the less obvious ones of educating, coaching…right down to the occasional tying of an eight year old’s shoelaces.

Age is no barrier within the YEL. The YEL has young referees (minimum age of 14) just setting out on their career as well as referees well into their 60s and 70s in the twilight of their careers who bring a vast amount knowledge and experience. The cross section of ages gives young players a wide, unique blend of different styles to learn from and experience.

The YEL offers a superb refereeing experience. We have over 1,200 teams featuring over 16,000 players from U7 through to U14. Each month around 2,000 refereeing appointments are made.

If you are a qualified referee and want to join the YEL referees list, simply send in an email to or use the contact tab at the head of the page. Confirmation will be required of County FA Registration for the current season. Details will then be sent on how to formally complete registration with the league.

REFEREES AND MANAGERS/COACHES – Referees can be and are appointed to YEL matches by YEL Referees Appointments up until Wednesday evening prior to the game. If the league is unable to appoint a referee to a game the status of the match on Full-Time changes from ‘TBC’ (which means we are trying to find a referee) to ‘None.’ The changing to ‘None’ is the alert to clubs that they need to find their own official. As this point, managers/coaches can use ‘Match Up’ – the live system where referees without a game or who become available after Wednesday evening, can advertise their availability. Match Up opens on a Thursday morning each week for four days through until Sunday.

REFEREES – Referees are able to advertise their availability by going onto Scoreline and accessing/updating their personal ‘Referee Match Up’ calendar. This updates ‘Match Up’ on Scoreline and allows coaches/managers to see if there is a referee available in their area. Referees are then contacted by text/email. If a referee is available to take the game, they confirm back to the manager/coach and message YEL Referees. Finally they remove their availability from their ‘Referee Match Up’ calendar to avoid being contacted again by other managers/coaches.

If these FAQs do not answer a particular question, use Scoreline to message the Referees Team via ‘Contact the YEL’ button or email the office –

Highlights of other rules (not exhaustive) – If in doubt, refer to the full rules and regulations on

Half time: Normally 10 minutes but can be up to 15 minutes. The half time interval can only be changed with the consent of the referee.

Length of the halves: As above. Shorter durations must be mutually agreed by the two clubs in consultation with the referee prior to the commencement of the match and, in any event, shall be of equal halves.

Assistant referees: Assistant referee must be over 16 (unless a qualified official)

Scoring a goal direct from a kick off: A goal cannot be scored directly from a kick-off in a U7s to U10s game

U7s to U10s specific rule: For an offence that would result in either a dropped ball within the penalty area or an indirect free kick within the penalty area under normal laws of the game, the restart of play should take place from the penalty area line, parallel with the goal line, at the nearest point to the offence.

Cup rules: If scores are level at the end of extra time (or normal time in finals if no extra time has been specified by the league prior to the start) the result will be decided by the taking of penalty kicks from the penalty mark. Each team will take 5 penalty kicks. If the result is still tied, then the teams will take additional penalties on a sudden death basis to ascertain the winner of the tie.

Payment of officials: In all rounds up to the semi final, the cost of the officials will be paid by the home teams. In semi finals, each team will pay half of the officials’ match fees.

Player ID: A player must not take part in any game if they are not listed on the official WGS team ID sheet or FA Matchday App.



Not everyone agrees with decisions, but the participants are left in no doubt that the referee is in control of what is happening on the field of play. This calm and authoritative manner is vital to ensure that the referee maintains the respect and control during the match.


A referee course helps build your confidence, teaches you life skills and how to manage situations on the field which can be related to every day life situations including conflict resolution, decision making and a whole host of other things. Learn how to become a referee.

Andy Smith
YEL Referees Liaison Officer