What are the results of the Participant Charter?

We all want to enjoy a game of football without worrying about the behaviour of other players and fans. So to help combat bad behaviour both on and off the pitch, and ensure that the actions of the few don’t ruin the game for the many, new policies and regulations came into force from the start of the 2023-24 season. These policies aim to help address and prevent unacceptable conduct both on the pitch and in the stands to make the game more enjoyable for everyone involved.

In this blog, we’re going to take you through all the new rules and regulations put in place by the English Football Authorities (EFA), to help you understand the new measures and procedures and how they are being implemented across both national leagues and grassroots games.

What are the new rules and regulations?

The Participant Charter, which was developed in partnership with the League Managers Association and Professional Footballers Association, has seen strongly enforced measures with the new rules and regulations for the 2023-24 season. 

These rules affect not only the players but also fans, support staff and club officials alike, which is why it’s important to familiarise yourself with the new procedures that are being introduced. This means that however you’re involved in the game, whether you’re playing in the national league or watching a grassroots game, you must know what’s allowed and what to avoid.

Participant behaviour

Participants of the game are expected to lead by example and show both respect and good sportsmanship on the pitch. Therefore, it’s important for them to keep up to date with the rules and regulations set in place by the Football Association.

Here are a few of the new measures you can expect to see being put into place for both the players and coaches:

  • Must not confront, invade the personal space of, or make physical contact with the

match officials

  • Must not instigate or escalate a mass confrontation with opposing players and/or

technical area occupants

  • Only one person is permitted to stand at the front of the technical area and coach

during the match

  • Must not instigate or escalate a mass confrontation with opposing players and/or technical area occupants.

Participants should implement these new rules as well as consistently adhere to the existing ones. Captains especially are expected to enforce these rules within their team to encourage good sportsmanship and fair games. In instances where match officials have their personal space invaded or are surrounded by multiple players, at least one of the players will receive a yellow card and it may also lead to being reported to the FA. This is in line with the trial of the bodycams for referees, which will continue throughout this season.

This trial of bodycams for referees consists of 100 referees' sporting bodycams and the aim is to explore whether the use of them improves participant behaviour and respect towards referees. This trial and the new regulations are all to improve the safety and fairness within matches, but it’s not just for the referees.

Fan behaviour

In order to challenge the unacceptable treatment of footballers in the 2023-24 season, there have been a lot of tough new measures introduced to combat this abusive behaviour. These procedures will see people who are breaking these rules faced with stadium bans and even criminal prosecution.

These new regulations focus on battling the offensive chanting, gesturing and messaging of the fans based on past football-related tragedies. In addition to banning and charges, online and in-classroom resources will now be available with the aim to help educate adults and children alike on the effect that this foul behaviour can have on both the people and the game.

There will be a continued effort to combat dangerous, illegal and unwelcome behaviour off the pitch, whether it’s in the stands or online, to help create a fun and safe environment for fans and players.

How are the rules applied to national leagues?

Alongside addressing and taking steps to solve unwanted behaviour, there have also been updates on tackling the serious misconduct across steps 5 and 6 of the National League system and grassroots football games.

The plan for these new rules is to help increase awareness of incidents and how to report them. The reporting system itself will also see an upgrade this season, making it more accessible to those who need it. These upgrades will show a solid commitment to tackling the problem areas where the incidents are the most prominent. If you want to learn more about how to report incidents and discrimination the FA website has helpful tools and resources to help you learn more about the process and who to contact. 

How are the rules applied to grassroots teams?

These new regulations will also affect grassroots games. An announcement was made at the start of the 2023-24 season which included new rules on point deductions for teams whose players or coaches commit repeated offences of serious misconduct, with point deductions ranging between 3 to 12 points, depending on the severity and regularity of the rule breaches. 

The overall aim of these grassroots-level changes is to find more ways to encourage positive behaviour in both spectators and the players and coaches at every stage of the game. Leagues are going to be supported to run silent support weekends and highlight the impact that side-line behaviour can have on players to ensure a fun and safe environment for the grassroots players and spectators.

Learn more about football rules with Avec Sport

Whether you have a 5-a-side match coming up or are looking to get involved in some grassroots games, at Avec Sport we have everything you need to complete your football kit. Just browse through our extensive range of football team kits to find all you need, with options and sizing inclusive of juniors, women's and men's teamwear.

You can also read through our blogs if you’re looking for more information on football rules and regulations. We have everything from u9 &u10 football rules to the best gym exercises for football players so you can get ready for your next match day.