Becoming a Referee

by Jake (BBC School Reporter)

Although many people know about the  world’s major referees by the names of Howard Webb, Mark Clattenburg and Robert Madley, this is not about them, this is about you, the young football fans.

If you disagree with decisions that referees make when watching your local football team, I believe this is an opportunity for you.

The Cornwall FA (Football Association) has this statement on their website:

 “The Cornwall County Football Association is re-launching the Volunteer Match Officials Development Programme to support clubs within the East Cornwall Youth League, Kernow Youth League & Cornwall Girls League. The FA Strategy is for every 9v9 & 11v11 game to have a qualified referee.”

Their aims are to skill up volunteer referees and introduce young football lovers to the reefing community.

I asked Ray Brown (the Referee Development Officer of the Cornwall FA) all about being a referee in the beautiful game.

What is a youth referee?

A youth referee classified “Y” is a referee who is 14 or 15 years of age –  they become a Level 7 on their 16th Birthday.

Why might young people want to become a youth referee?

It is a very rewarding experience, an alternative route into the higher levels of the game other than playing. Cornwall FA has a number of referees in their late teens or very early twenties already refereeing in the semi-professional game.

What are the advantages and possible disadvantages of becoming a referee?

Advantages would include the opportunity to travel, to develop life skills such as communication, body language & man management skills together with a good level of fitness. Disadvantages would largely be the abuse that is sometimes aimed at referees and it can sometimes be a lonely thing when you first start out!

How much can a referee earn in PL football?

Referees can earn £65000 a season plus match fees as an established Premier League Referee. Referees officiating for FIFA & UEFA can earn considerably more with International & European Competition appointments.

Why do you think it is important to have an official FA qualified referee refereeing youth football?

I have refereed youth football events throughout my 32 year career, players who grow up refereed by qualified referees are much better behaved when they reach adulthood.

Who can apply, and what kind of qualities would they need?

Anyone 14 or over, male or female, may apply to be a referee. They will need to be fit enough to get around the field of play, they will need to pass examinations have good communication & management skills. A lot of good practical advice will be supplied by qualified FA Tutors.

How can young people approach you about becoming a referee?

As the Cornwall FA Referee Development Officer I can be contacted on 01208 262983 or 07846 270967 or via email


More info:

Come & join refereeing, you could become the next Howard Webb. The Cornwall Referees Academy share between them 7 International Appointments, 2 European Appointments & 86 National Finals.  They have toured USA, Spain, Italy, Denmark, San Marino, France & Portugal.

Despite the fact that I have used many resources from the Cornwall FA, in actual fact, the men behind the camera, as it were, are the RA (Referee Association) who fund and run referee development courses in collaboration with the FA here is a brief history of the RA:

•July 2012 – Formation of RA-FA Youth Council with special guests David Bernstein (ex-FA Chairman) and David Elleray (FA Referees’ Committee Chairman & RA President)

September 2012 – Launch of Inspired Fund to support young people fund and access Basic Referee Courses

•July 2013 – Inaugural RA-FA Youth Council Friday events took place at RA Conference 2013. 90 young people took part in afternoon training and development sessions and a social and entertainment evening

October 2013 – Launch of University Hub Scheme in partnership with BUCS

•July 2014 – Second successful RA-FA Youth Council training events at RA Conference 2014, at St George’s Park, with a World Cup themed dinner offering training opportunities

•September 2014 – Implementation of 8 Regional Representatives to provide one-to-one support to all County FA Youth Councils across the country

•October 2014 – Launch of the RA-FA Youth Council Referee Development Fund that gives funding opportunities to Youth Councils and County FAs for referee development initiatives

•March 2015 – Delivery of 8 Regional Seminars to support Youth Councils across the country, providing up to date support and CPD sessions for the Youth Council volunteer workforce

•May 2015 – 50 of the country’s Youth Council workforce attend the first National County FA Youth Council Conference, with a day full of exciting development sessions and networking opportunities

•May 2015 – First ever training and development event at the RA Eve of Final Rally 2015, facilitated and hosted by the RA-FA Youth Council

•June 2015 – £3000 of investment made into Youth Councils through Referee Development Fund

•July 2015 – Growing audience at the RA-FA Youth Council Friday events at RA Conference 2015 – with a ‘Secret Agent’ themed event focusing on making your refereeing mission possible

•August 2015 – 2 RA-FA Youth Council members (Will Finnie and Tom Bowkett) co-opted on to The RA Board

•September 2015 – Launch of the RA-FA Youth Council website