Every referee starts out at the bottom of a ladder, looking to learn and develop their skills throughout their refereeing career. Most are looking for promotion, some with modest targets, some perhaps even with the hope of eventually refereeing in a World Cup Final.

Refereeing Levels

A match official's ‘level’ is a mark of his/her achievement within refereeing. New referees start out at level 7 (or level 8 if under 16) and referees can progress all the way to level 1 and beyond.

The typical Levels and the games a referee might handle are as follows:

  • Level 8 - Youth Referee (qualified referees under 16 years old)
  • Level 7 - Junior County Referee
  • Level 6 –County Referee
  • Level 5 - Senior County Referee
  • Level 4 - Supply League Referee/Contributory League Assistant
  • Level 3 - Contributory League Referee/Panel League Assistant
  • Level 2 - Panel League Referee/Football League Assistant
  • Level 1 - Football League Referee
  • Select Group - FA Premier League Referee
  • FIFA List - International Referee

Progressing Upwards

The referee promotion year runs from 1st March to the end of February the following year. The criteria you have to meet to gain promotion depend on the level you aim for. Typically you will need to referee at least twenty games and you will be assessed during some of them by a trained referee assessor.

Level 7 to Level 6

You must have completed at least 20 matches as a referee before you can apply for promotion to level 6. Your first 5 matches may be included in this total. You will be assessed on at least 3 occasions and receive a comprehensive assessment of your strengths and areas for development after each one. You will also need to attend an In Service Training Day and pass a refresher on the Laws of the Game. At the end of the assessment year the AFA Referees Committee will decide whether you meet the criteria for promotion to Level 6 and promote you if you do. If you are not promoted you can remain on the scheme in future seasons until you succeed in meeting the promotion criteria.

Level 6 to Level 5

The requirements are much the same as for progression to Level 6 (including the Laws refresher and the In Service Training day) but you will be officiating in higher standard games which will be more challenging.

Level 5 to Level 4

Once you have reached Level 5 and you have been an Assistant Referee for at least five games you can seek nomination for promotion to Level 4. You will be invited to attend a County Fitness Test between 1st July and the end of February in the promotion year. You will need to be able to cover 2500 metres in 12 minutes and also complete two 50 metre sprints, each in less than 7.5 seconds. This will be held towards the end of the promotion year.

Promotion to Level 4 is determined by The FA. If you are successful you will be able to referee Supply League football (the lower ranks of semi-professional football) as well as becoming an Assistant Referee at Contributory League Level.

Level 4 and Upwards

Once at Level 4, a referee will be regularly assessed and may seek to climb further up the ladder.

A Level 3 referee is allowed to Referee at Contributory League Level and act as an Assistant Referee at Panel League Level, such as the Vanarama National League.

A Level 2 referee is allowed to Referee at Panel League Level, and may be an Assistant Referee on the National List (operating in The Football League and even the FA Premier League).

A Level 1 referee is eligible to be a Referee for The Football League and, if invited, may even be added to the "Select Group" (the panel of Referees on the FA Premier League). The final promotion for a referee on the Premiership List is to be added to the FIFA Panel of referees covering international matches.

Promotion Deposits

All applicants for promotion by The AFA (that is up to Level 4) are required to pay a deposit of £40 in order to join the promotion scheme. This deposit is returnable once you leave the AFA scheme provided you have complied with its conditions which are:

  • You attend a compulsory In Service Training event.
  • You referee at least 20 matches (not including youth U-16s matches or friendlies).
  • You submit in advance your match appointments to us regularly (at least one a month).
  • You use the correct form for notification of your match appointments to us.
  • You inform the Referee Assessor Co-ordinator (John Cooke) of any changes to match details which could result in an assessor travelling to a notified game which has been cancelled, postponed or altered in advance.
  • You accept County Cup appointments.
  • Additionally, if you are applying for promotion to level 4, you officiate as an assistant referee on at least 5 occasions, attend one of The FA’s compulsory seminars and you attend a County fitness test .

If you do not comply fully with the scheme conditions you may forfeit some or all of the £40 deposit.

Applying to Join the Promotion Scheme

If you would like to be considered for Promotion please contact John Cooke by 1st March deadline. John can be contacted on 020 8733 2613 or email john.cooke@amateur-fa.com .

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