News & Updates

FA proposals for youth football – have your say!

The English FA has proposed changes to the structure of youth football in England.

This month’s edition of The Club House features a detailed review of the changes – click here to view.

We’re really keen to hear what you think about the proposals and their implications for the grassroots game if they are accepted.

Are you in favour of the increase in small-sided football and raising the age at which children play 11-a-side?

Would you be pleased like the mandatory introduction of the 9v9 game? What do you think of scrapping league tables until under 12s?

Whatever you think on any of the issues, let us know in the comments section below. We’ll collate all of your feedback and send it back to the FA so that it can feed back into the current consultation process.

Look forward to hearing what you have to say!


Darren says:

the new changes to youth football are an absolute disgrace. Where is the harm in letting the boys see their leagues results? They are kids, they are interested in results its as simple as that. As for the non competitive thing well that is unbelievable. The only people in favour of it appear to be the people who don’t understand the game. Also making kids sprint back to the half way line on goal kicks. Can you imagine Rooney having to do that every time, he would be knackered by half time. Message to the F.A …you haven’t even picked a decent national team manager in decades and now your incompetence is spreading into youth football. Leave it alone and let the kids enjoy it. They want to win and they want to see league tables and results , thats the whole fun of it.

September 28, 2014 at 23:48

John Speakman says:

What an absolute load of rubbish on here about so called coaches moaning & whinging about U13’s playing 11 aside “on big pitches & big nets”. Saying that all they do is play long ball & have no contact with the ball. “Its a waste of time” I coach an U13’s & have been doing so since they were U9’s & NO ex academy players. If there coached properly & in the correct way, passing football is not a problem. My team is a delight to watch with fast flowing passing football. COACH THEM PROPERLY YOU MORONS!!!!!

September 19, 2014 at 23:03

Karen says:

My son is 12 November and was playing under11s what age groups can he play for now .

July 20, 2014 at 16:52

kelly says:

hi we are currently in league at under 9 s which is non competitive, its a boys/girls team , i have a girl tht should be playing at under 10 s next season , but ive been told by a lot of people she can stay at 9 s , as females can play a yr younger in a mixed team , is this true , or does anyone no if there s any rules around this please

April 8, 2014 at 19:07

keith everitt says:

i have been involved with grassroots football for 25 years. the game is falling away [mainly at 18 and over]. due an out of place fa. main & local did you know a yellow card cost £10:00 administration fee wether you play PREMIERSHIP or UNDER 8 football.
if you get sent off it is a £25:00 fine plus £10:00 administration thats £35:00 if you are unemployed it leaves you with £25:00 out of your benefit. FA are just money men

December 29, 2013 at 17:34


Can anyone give me any ideas on dealing with the Coach of my sons under 11’s team! We’re way out of our depth with the teams we play resulting in massive defeats on the lines of 12-1 every game which is disheartning for both the young players and us the supporting parents! The coach is unapproachable and dismisses our moans with comments like ” it isn’t up for discussion!” He is losing young players that are full pf passion and enthusiasm but the coach won’t release their FA Cards so kids are leaving to go no where and us parents who have paid out £50 are very angry!! Why not realease the kids who want to leave and allow them to move on and play for another team with the passion my son gives to each game every sunday. He fell to the floor in floods of tears at the end of our lastest thrashing of 13-1 because he ran his heart out throughout the game and the so call coach could not be bothered to give a few words of comfort! The man needs sacking before the team falls apart due to more parents wanting to pul their kids out! These kids could be our future big stars so any assistance from the FA in dealing with my issues would be very much appreciated! Many thanks.

December 8, 2013 at 15:42

phil dodd says:

I Hadn’t given the new rulings much thought while my 14year old son was continuing to play the last three years for his local team, but I now see how the ruling is damaging the opportunities our children have. I am unable to find a club in my area who are able to take my youngest son into their team, due to the numbers of players they already have and the fact that they must now be rotated in order to actually become involved in competitive football games like they see their Hero’s do! surely this must have been foreseen? If the FA wants to improve the skills of future generations they need to put their hands in their pockets and support the volunteers who struggle to support our kids while up holding The FA’s interfering rules! otherwise they are just simply stealing opportunities!!!!!

October 10, 2013 at 21:06

A Larkin says:

my son is 11, is he allowed to sign for a Saturday and Sunday team or are there any restrictions??

September 6, 2013 at 21:56

chris says:

fair enough trying to sort out all this BUT one big thing is the STUPID expensive signing on fee’s from each kid!! i help coach a team of U12’s, we’re struggling for team because parents can’t afford/don’t want to pay the fee!!
plus, now need a registered ref or get a FINE!!
thats stupid, sort ref’s out for each team, a watched a 5v5 tournament the other day, loads of ref’s wondering around!! assign them to local teams to them, young ref’s who are just starting, be good for them!!

August 18, 2013 at 12:44

sunny says:

Exactly what john cartwright has been saying for over 25 years read john Cartwright football for the brave,premierskills always play small side games with safe zones and our warm ups are with a ball giving kids our unique football homework and parents has first coach,skill and brave football not one touch footie for kids tell them to express and to take players on and know when to pass and how to find space, let the kids play and enjoy

July 23, 2013 at 21:40

Daniel Cahill says:

My son was born 16/08/2006 which age group could he now play in? Under 7s or 8s?

July 14, 2013 at 12:19

Ray ueafa B coach says:

We are all volunteers in grassroots football ,the coaches ,the secretary’s ,the committees of clubs of the leagues ,surely us along with our kids should decide what happens with our grassroots ,
Not be dictated to by our FA who are a money spinning organisation who can’t even pick or keep the right manager for our national team ,so get your own house in order first and ask the people who really know what is best for our kids ,30% yes 30% of player in the premiership are British ,that’s great for our game isn’t it !!!!!!!!!! So FA get your own house in order before you start looking and blaming others for your failures

Football is for All to Enjoy ,the FA don’t own the game we do everybody .

June 6, 2013 at 21:42

Michael Morton says:

Great initiatives. Clearly a lot of thought and research has gone in to this. My son is in the U7 age group and is ready seeing the benefit of this skills based approach. He doesn’t care about results, he just wants the ball at his feet.

The England team will look a lot better in 10 years.

June 4, 2013 at 20:08

MATT says:

The sooner this becomes mandatory the better!
We are already 20 years years behind the rest of continent, dont lets slip further by just discussing, being negitive to change and DOING NOTHING!

April 28, 2013 at 19:17

gary says:

hi i wonder if anyone can help me my son is nine an curentley plays for a under tens team we have been told that he will not be able to play for this team next year as he is not old enuth ive always thought that you can play for older teams just not younger teams can anyone help me on this thanks very much

April 28, 2013 at 12:49

Dave Mitchell says:

The FA seem to have overlooked who actually organizes youth football in this country. It is Leagues who spend many hours sorting out fixtures, collating results and awarding trophies. But like going to work, without reward you cannot impose penalties. Like everyday life, without rules there is inevitably chaos – just read Lord of the Flies. The point is that without rules and regulations you can really do just as you wish. Turn up to play games when you fancy, play a 13 year old against a 9 year old. You can hold trophy competitions over 4 weeks, assuming you can find a 4 week period in this country where the weather remains favourable and all teams in the competition can play the same number of games. Truth of the matter is that already we are seeing a failure in younger age groups to play satisfactory non organized football and through the FA’s approach this is going to spread. Without Leagues and without League organizers youth football will peter out.

March 30, 2013 at 21:09

Martin says:

sean hellett name me an EU country that’s playing 9 v 9 at U14’s and U15’s? You seem to have fallen for the FA propaganda crap. It never was and never will be a ‘format’ problem with grassroots football in this country. Yes U13’s are too small for full size goals and pitches but that is a ‘facilities’ problem not a ‘format’ problem. Yes much of the football played is ‘longball’ but when our kids are playing ankle deep in mud on pitches churned up the previous day by 22 full grown adults, what do you expect. The FA know our elite players need a good surface to play on, they have spent nearly a billion pounds on St George’s Park and Wembley to provide this, yet for our youngest players their best advice is “find a bit of grass” and “mark a pitch out with disc’s”. Our national body are a disgrace to grassroots football, they have no concept of, or interest in, youth football and see us only as a money making machine to finance their ego’s. Just remember we are England, not Brazil or Spain (who only managed a draw v Finland) and in football its not long ball or short ball its the right ball that is required.

March 27, 2013 at 10:55

sean hellett says:

I have coached a team since U7 we have now played two years U11 and U12 at 9v9. Whilst I wholeheartedly support the FA changes to youth football, it was frequently mentioned in the ‘have your say’ workshops that many EU countries keep this format up to U14 and U15. Why do we change to 11v11 at 13? The kids at this age are still too small for full size goals and the matches are long-ball games with many players getting little contact with the ball. Its a real shame we could not be more progressive and continue to coach/play in the smaller format to develop our young players.

March 20, 2013 at 00:07

PJ says:

Anything that will change the mentality of some coaches has to be a good thing. This Sunday my child was shouted at agressively whilst playing in his under 8 team. The coach has a short fuse. His son and the managers son have never once been subbed, always play upfront, and have left my son on the sidelines in the freezing cold for the majority of the game. One time I travelled 20 miles to a game and my child was so upset as they kept promising to put him on then never did. One of them has his best friends son playing who is a terrible player but he never gets subbed either. When I asked the coach about it he verbally abused me and told me he was not talking to likes of me and if I didnt like it then leave, yet I am a respectable person. This coach is a disgrace to the game. I hope he is got rid of. He is a bad example to all kids.

March 19, 2013 at 03:57

rob croome says:

i think shifting age groups to calendar years is a step in right direction . why not do it for all age groups .it will develop our lads further .and get coaches away from winning at all costs.FA need to do it for ALL and not half hearted,like they have with futsal.make a difference ,make the change ,make it count,cos it seems like they have given up on lads older than the age group thats ear marked for change.

March 17, 2013 at 22:55

Cameron Thompson says:

My son plays under 11 sunday league football. He is both young (born in July) and small. I have never played competitive football however I have watched my son play over a number of years and come to hold views regarding the game as a result. He plays the game because 1) He loves it 2) He enjoys playing with his friends. In my experience the vast majority of coaches in boys football coach because 1) They want to win. This disparity generally causes coaches to pick those players who can win for them now. This results in a bias of players in the top teams towards older and bigger players (size differences at this age can be huge and as a result dominate the outcomes of matches). This bias then perpetuates through the game whilst the boys grow. The end result is an unwelcome bias in the adult game with many of the most naturally talented players falling by the wayside. I welcome the changes proposed. They are a long time overdue in my opinion.

March 14, 2013 at 14:13

Amanda says:

My boys have both been into football for a good few years now, they don’t play for any teams any more as it was not enjoyable for them, however they have found a soccer school which they love and is truly teaching them skills, problem is trying to find other teams to play, there should be a league where teams and academy’s can enter, so it’s not just the large clubs getting to play matches, there are plenty of organisations cropping up that provide much better learning for children, but they are not getting the chance to play any matches, i also disagree with parents having to go all over Dorset to play football it leaves parents who don’t drive (with talented kids) out of the loop! I would like to see more independent leagues that teams can enter not just large clubs! And local not having to travel miles!

March 4, 2013 at 22:05

Alan walker says:

What a shame this is going to change ,and stop young lads from playing football ,at the moment we have a squad of 20 u11s ,so we have team A and team B 7vs7 as it is everyone gets to play ,with the changes the max squad size is 14 so 6 of the boys are going to br told there is no place in football for them.
There will be nowhere for them to go as all the other local teams will be getting rid of players too.
This is very sad that lads are going to possibly have to stop playing football because of the changes.
So unless people start up new teams there are going to be lots of young lads who love playing football and get great exercise from it will go back to sitting in front of the tv or xbox.
Someone correct me if I am wrong in my comments but if I am correct what a sad time for youth football

February 25, 2013 at 12:34

glenn russell says:

i run bilborough pelican fc we have a few kids teams and only 2 pitches will we be able to put a u9 team pitch inside a full,size pitch if so how long for. many thanks glenn

December 30, 2012 at 21:25

Gary dale says:

I have to let you know that abuse to referees at junior level needs urgent attention. I help my 17 year old son who is a Gloucestershire fa referee by running the line on Sundays,because I enjoy it,but, for the second year in a row at the same fixture we were left feeling very angry at the threats and abuse we both encountered from the coaches of both teams, we reported them last year and whilst this year they didn’t encroach the pitch we were abused by both parties, in the light of the Dutch tragedy,it’s not going to be long before the same happens here! The fa must take action now and a major respect programme must ensue as referees aren’t the enemy,they deserve respect as do gay and black players for without officials games would not be possible. I cannot tell you how vociferous I am over this issue.

December 10, 2012 at 00:30

sr says:

enjoyable read john unfortunately will not happen, yet again my sons game on saturday was spoilt by adults wanting to be more important than the kids .

November 27, 2012 at 22:45

John Speck says:

Youth Football:

It’s not about size,
It’s not about height,
It’s not about who can push the most, tackle the hardest, or even run the fastest,

It’s about skill and finesse,
Technique and timing,
Self expression and creativity
Freedom on the ball and individuality
Playing the game your way, not the coaches way,

Learning for yourself and from your mistakes,
Its about Playing different positions, making runs and trying tricks and new moves.
It’s about learning and trying new positions, not forever stuck in one position with boundaries and rules forever set in stone.
It’s about invention, not domination,
About games well played not just games well won.

It’s for you, an 11 year old playing for fun,
It’s not for angry adults jeering and screaming their heads off, playing at being managers and coaches & telling you off for trying a trick they could never master.

It’s about ingenuity not injuries, reinventing the game as you play not just copying everyone else.

And it’s about fair play, and respect, for the referee, for your teammates and for the opposition as well.

But most of all, it’s about having the ball at your feet, not having to fight a further 21 players for a touch.

Football as it should be,
As it can be.

Sent from my iPhone

October 10, 2012 at 21:47

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