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The F.A is the governing body of the football game in England, and seeks to develop football at all levels with the aim of ‘using the power of football to build a better future.’ The Football Association, as the game’s governing body in England and the world’s pre-eminent national association, occupies a central role in the relationships between football’s many basic parts: fans, players, officials, managers and coaches.

Under the main aim of “using the power of football to build a better future”, The F.A’s purpose is to lead the successful development of football at every level, with the overall aim of England winning the World Cup by 2006. The Council is made up of 92 elected representatives from the various parts of the game, including The FA Premier League, the Football League, County Associations, the universities, schools and services.

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The Council meets about six times a year to consider major policy issues, as well as to approve proposals put forward by committee. Major business, strategic and commercial decisions are taken by the Main Board, a body of 12, established in December 1999 to make the decision-making process more streamlined. Members of the Main Board (six from the professional game and six from the national game) are the non-executive directors of The FA.

The Football Administration and Refereeing department provides four main administrative services to the game: Competitions – runs, co-ordinates and administers seven competitions from The FA Cup to The FA Sunday Cup. Registrations – responsible for registering contracts of all players who play in leagues and competitions sanctioned by The FA. The department also deals with international clearance; work permits and supervises the transfer market.

Disciplinary – responsible for policing and administering disciplinary and appeals procedures from the Premiership, through the Football League to the senior semi-professional leagues. Refereeing – responsible for the recruitment, training and examination of referees, assistant referees, instructors and assessors, together with appointment of officials for FA competitions and implementing changes to the Laws of the Game. The National Game division is responsible for increasing participation in the men’s and women’s game, providing a co-coordinated approach to the development of football at all levels below the Football League.

County FA’s run the game at the local level The 43 County Football Associations are the administrative backbone of grassroots football throughout the country. The Counties are independent bodies, affiliated to The Football Association, but responsible for running all aspects of the game at the local level. Around 40,000 football clubs in total are affiliated to County FA’s. Many of the County F.A’s have been in existence from more than a century. Sheffield FA (now Sheffield ; Hallamshire) was the first to be formed, in 1867, and was followed by Birmingham (1875), Surrey and Shropshire, both in 1877, Berks and Bucks, Cheshire and Lancashire (all 1878). The key administrative functions of County F.A’s revolve around the affiliation of local competitions and leagues, registration of players, organisation of match officials and administering of discipline.

Over recent years, Counties have expanded their activities and are now involved in developing the game at the local level, through initiatives such as coaching, Mini-Soccer, women’s and girls’ football, and running training programmes for referees and First Aid courses. Each County is working towards implementing a Development Plan, in conjunction with local partners. In each area, the County FA co-ordinates a Local Football Partnership, which bring together football and other partners to create and prioritize football facility and development, plans for the locality.

The FA National Game division is leading the revitalizing of the grassroots The FA’s National Game Division was created to work with County FA’s, Local Football Partnerships, the Football Foundation and The FA’s commercial partners to develop football in England at every level below the Football League, from the Football Conference to parks and schools. Its responsibilities range from creating the strategy for grass-roots football, to developing non-League football. Also overseeing the handing out of major sums of money that have already started to restore the lower levels of the game.

1. Raising Standards This means raising the standards of both schools and grass-roots clubs, through The FA’s Charter Standard programmes. Thus, getting on for 500 clubs have already achieved FA Charter Standard status. The target is for 30 per cent of all schools, and a total of 5,000 clubs, to achieve it within five years. This Charter Standard acts as a kite-mark endorsement, designed to raise and reward quality standards in football provision, in both schools and clubs.

2. Improving Facilities The results of work done in compiling a Register of English Football Facilities (REFF) are soon to be published. REFF comprises a national survey of all grass-roots facilities in England, undertaken by Price Waterhouse Cooper and designed to identify where investment is most needed. This has been funded by the Football Foundation. The objective is to change that. Hence, The FA is investing at least 45m via the Football Foundation over the next three years into improving grass-roots pitches, club-houses and other facilities.

3. Developing Football Administration The work in this area includes getting more people involved in football as volunteers, whether in coaching teams, running clubs or refereeing games. Thus the National Game Division is working with County FA’s on delivering a programme of Effective Football Club Administration (EFCA), consisting of courses to support volunteers and building on the key role that they play at grass-roots level.

Meanwhile, The FA is investing �12 million over four years in a custom-designed IT system that will link the football community and ease the administration burden on clubs, leagues and County FA’s. As part of this, a League Administration is already available on the Internet, while in the near future, all County FA’s will be operating under a new County Administration System.

4. Developing Women’s Football Women’s football is already the biggest sport for women in this country and The FA is putting the structures in place to help it expand further, with the hope of a doubling of the number playing within the next decade, if not sooner. The FA also has plans to create a professional league for women

5. Developing Leagues, Competitions and Clubs This means developing everything from The FA Trophy and FA Vase to ambitious plans for developing hundreds of what are being called “community clubs”. These are sort of “super-clubs”, each with at least ten teams, ranging from junior to women’s and senior teams. “It is the sort of club where you can start as a youngster, playing in a junior team, and go all the way through to playing as a veteran”, explains Stone. Such clubs will also have a social area or bar, where the life of the club can continue before and after the game.

This approach is based on the model of grass-roots clubs in Holland, where clubs get Government investment and boast first-rate facilities. “We want community clubs to be at the heart of our plans”, says Stone. “Our objective in the next five years – or, it could take ten – is to create 500 community clubs. We could probably today already identify 100 clubs which are candidates for community club status.”

6. Raising Awareness The final priority is simply to raise awareness among everyone from the media and the general public to players and parents of the work being done by The FA and County FA’s to develop our national game National League System England has perhaps the most comprehensive competitive league structure anywhere in world football, with around 40,000 affiliated clubs playing in 2200 leagues.

The National League System describes the structure of competitions below the Football League level, with relegation and promotion provisions ensuring that clubs can progress from small beginnings right to the top rungs of the game. Working with leagues and clubs, The Football Association is committed to improving the National League System, making it the most exciting, fun and effective league structures in the world with quality competitions

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