All you need is love

by Mystical Mike

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

During the current cold spell, it is a good time to remind referees of their responsibilities regarding pitch inspections.

There is, it has to be said, a fair old deal of information on the FA website:

Referees should visit the ground in good time before a match to see that everything is in order. If, through bad weather or negligence, the state of the ground is such that it may endanger the players, you should refuse to sanction play.

There are rules, regulations, information for players, for clubs, for parents, and even a section on how to get your hands on cash, but how many people actually know it’s there?

I was sent an email this week containing a secret document circulated to all the clubs from the Premier League down. Within this Holy Grail of association football was a list of names, a group of men who had, or the FA stated may in the past have operated in football in relation to transfer related activity but who are currently not licensed or authorised by the FA.

Ok so, the FA has provided a list of people who may be trading as agents and they’re not supposed to. Right. Distributed, an FA spokesman told me, to help the clubs know who they shouldn’t be dealing with, a preventative measure.

Did you see the list? How many clubs/managers/players had a chance to look at it? How many know just who is on it, and more importantly if you were approached by MR I. AM AGENT would you know you shouldn’t deal with him?

In fact, I wonder how many of you have the time to actually read a document on agents, or many of the documents sent out by the FA or on its website?

Fact is, many who still work for Non League sides and hold positions in clubs are volunteers. Speaking to a grassroots football secretary this week, it turns out very few do it for anything other than love (and perhaps a harbouring of their secret desire to be on Countdown) and yet we expect so much of them.

We expect every form to be filled correctly every match to be on correctly. Shirts picked-up, doors opened, people greeted and then we want them to guard against unlicensed agents?

I too have been guilty of asking too much of some people, but I’m starting to doubt if we can ever expect a truly mistake-free Non League game.

The only answer, and the only way to guarantee you are indeed playing it by the book, is to do what the FA suggest on its top secret document about agents: If you have any query please do not hesitate to contact the FA. I wonder how many of us have the time to do that? Given all the drama of late I would suggest we can’t afford not to, by the way.

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