General IFA Rules

All IFA Rule Amendments relating to Covid-19 are shown in italics and are noted as Covid Amendment Rule (CAR) where wording differs from the regular IFA rules.

1.Arranging Matches

CAR 1.0 As away fans are currently not permitted to games, IFA General Rules 1.2-1.4 inclusive and 1.7 are currently suspended until away fans are permitted to attend games.

1.1 Matches should be proposed between team organisers in writing via email or social media platforms a few weeks or months in advance.

1.2 Typically the home team organiser will invite the away team to play in the morning on a day when their supported clubs are playing each other in the afternoon. Organisers will then canvas for available players, and if both receive enough interest the match will go ahead. Such matches are referred to as ‘Double Header fixtures’.

1.3 In order to ensure teams are extending and replying to such invitations, the IFA committee will make regular spot-checks across the season. Team organisers must keep a record of all communications relating to these invitations, as failure to produce these when requested may result in action being taken against teams and/or team organisers.

1.4 If teams do not receive enough interest to fulfil a Double Header fixture, they are not permitted to play any other IFA fixture on the same date without the permission of the IFA committee.

CAR 1.5 Whilst football is played without away supporters, away teams can travel beyond 90 minutes for a fixture.

For example, Preston vs Watford. Watford could travel / host a fixture as their fans would not be allowed to attend, however Preston must remain within 90 minutes of Preston for any IFA League Fixture.

This rule may also vary for different levels of Professional Football in both England and Scotland depending on whether home/away fans are allowed into stadia for fixtures. 

1.6 Teams in Scotland are to inform the IFA Scotland league organiser which two dates their double headers will be played, as the ‘main teams’ will play each other 3 or 4 times in the league over the course of the season.

1.7 When a team does not have a possible double header fixture on any given Saturday they are free to invite any passing team, or make arrangements to play a local team within 90 minutes from home, who also do not have a possible double header fixture.

1.8 Exceptions may be granted to accommodate IFA British Cup fixtures, subject to agreement by the committee.

  1. Communication

2.1 Continued communication via email, message or social media is extremely important in the run up to a game. If you cannot arrange contact, you should not arrange games. Managers from both teams should liaise with each other in writing to ensure the pitch, referee and players are all available.

2.2 It is the responsibility of both managers to make sure that all lines of communication are open. This includes the exchange of phone numbers in case of last-minute issues.

2.3 Team organisers must keep a record of all communications, as failure to produce these when requested may result in action being taken against teams and/or team organisers.

  1. Determining the Type of Match

3.1 The option of whether games are classified as IFA League games or friendlies is usually by agreement of both sides.

3.2 Where teams are playing the same opposition for the third time in a season with two League games already having been played, the match will automatically be deemed to be a friendly. The only exception to this rule is where a 3rd meeting takes place in the IFA Cup.

3.3 A match cannot be a League game for one team and a friendly for the other team. If there is any ambiguity in the fixture announcement, a match will be assumed to be a League match unless it does not qualify as such (usually as a result of one or both teams having already played the maximum number of games that season).

3.4 Friendly matches are to be encouraged to help teams develop, especially for new teams, even after a team has completed its quota of League-qualifying matches for a season.

  1. Reporting of Matches

4.1 Matches must be announced using the fixture announcement form on the IFA website. Either team can announce a fixture and this must be done before the match kicks off.

4.2 Following the game, results must be announced using the result announcement form on the IFA website within 28 days of the fixture being played. Both teams MUST complete the result announcement, failure to do so may result in action being taken against teams and/or team organisers.

4.3 Any game that does not take place as announced, for whatever reason, should also be communicated to the IFA using the result announcement form within 28 days of the fixture date. Both teams MUST complete the result announcement, failure to do so may result in action being taken against teams and/or team organisers.

4.4 The website forms are the only format we will accept for announcing fixtures and results and they can be found HERE

  1. Match Conditions

5.1 The minimum number of players required by a team for the match to be eligible is eight. Any team turning up with less than eight players, or indeed not turning up at all, will automatically forfeit the game. See section 6 for rules relating to eligible players.

5.2 Any team turning up after the agreed kick-off time without good reason may forfeit the game. The IFA committee will review reasons for late arrival.

5.3 Any team failing to turn up will forfeit the match and a 3-0 victory will be awarded to their opponents. The IFA committee may apply further sanctions.

5.4 Matches should be played under the standard Laws of the Game, with the exception being a system of “rolling subs”, which allows for unlimited substitutions to enable all available players to participate and for players who have been substituted to return to the field later in a match. 

5.5 The match duration should be 90 minutes unless previously agreed between the two sides. If a match is shortened, reasons for this should be included when completing the result announcement form noted in rule 4.2.

CAR 5.6 Once government advice relating to the Covid-19 pandemic allows, all teams are encouraged to participate in a pre-match ‘fair play handshake’ which should involve all present, including team managers and supporters, to encourage fair play in keeping with the IFA spirit.

  1. Eligible Players

6.1 Players selected to play in IFA matches must be bona fide supporters of the club they are representing. The whole purpose of the IFA is to allow supporters of teams to represent the club they support against “rival” teams in friendly games to build bridges between fans. Selecting and playing players who do not support the team you represent is against the IFA Spirit.

6.2 Players should be recruited and chosen for matches regardless of ability. Any team who is considered by the committee to be attempting to gain a sporting advantage by selecting and recruiting based solely on ability will be considered to be in breach of the IFA spirit.

6.3 While we understand that a late drop-out would require a quick replacement to be found, we would actively encourage all teams to use a player that is a bona fide supporter of your team, irrelevant of ability, where possible. When this is not possible at short notice, a recruited player should not, under any circumstances, receive priority over a genuine supporter.

6.4 If a team is struggling for players in the days leading up to a match, they are encouraged to “loan” players from other IFA teams. This helps to foster relations between teams and encourages the inter-mingling of fans, which is what we’re all here for.

6.5 Should any team arrive for a game with more than 8 but less than 11 players, or if injury during a game leads to either team playing with less than 11, the opposing side are expected to offer replacements from their substitutes if they have them, to bring both sides up to a full complement of players and ensure the fixture takes place. If both teams are short, managers should use their initiative to ensure both sides have equal numbers.

  1. Referees and Officials

7.1 The IFA is renowned for the friendly spirit in which matches are played. Although we do not specify that a qualified official should referee matches, the use of one obviously allows players to concentrate on the game and for the game to progress smoothly.

7.2 In the absence of a qualified referee, where both teams have a full complement of players and substitutes, each team should referee a half each.

7.3 If the home team has recruited a referee for the match, it is their responsibility to ensure that the referee is briefed on ALL aspects of rules 7 and 8 BEFORE the game commences.

7.4 Players are also reminded that all referees will make honest mistakes. Dissent is unnecessary and in direct contradiction to the IFA spirit. Referees on-field decisions are final and should be respected at all times.

7.5 Common sense and honesty are called for on behalf of the players in order to assist the referee.

7.6 In matches where there are insufficient people to supply assistant referees, it is generally accepted that referees should be the sole arbiter in deciding offside decisions, and as such he or she may decide to only penalise “very obvious” infringements. Players should be sympathetic towards the referee in this situation and should not seek to take advantage of his or her lack of 47 eyes.

  1. Discipline

8.1 It is the responsibility of team managers/organisers/captains to ensure that all team staff, players and supporters follow the agreed standards of behaviour noted in the IFA Spirit both on and off the pitch. The IFA is a friendly organisation and is no place for “hotheads”. People wishing to behave in such a manner should seek their entertainment elsewhere.

8.2 Team managers/organisers/captains are expected to work with their opposite numbers before, during and after games to ensure that flashpoints are kept to an absolute minimum and disagreements are quickly resolved.

8.3 Team managers/organisers/captains are responsible for ensuring there are no circumstances in which players are sent off.

8.4 Team managers/organisers/captains will remove any offending players from the field of play for a period of time at their discretion, using the IFA policy of allowing rolling subs noted in rule 5.4, before such time as the referee would need to issue a red card. 

8.5 In the event of a red card being issued, a substitute must not be brought on in place of the offending player.

8.6 Any red cards that are issued and the reasons for the dismissal MUST be reported by both teams when completing the comments section of the result announcement form noted in rule 4.2.

8.7 By entering the IFA, teams have agreed to be responsible for their own actions, so there should be no need for the intervention of the IFA Committee. There will be no warnings on behaviour; the Committee will take strong and immediate action if they feel the need to. This should not happen because you are sensible and will be playing games in the spirit they are intended.

  1. Discrimination and Abuse

9.1 It is every participant’s duty to ensure that teams and individual participants are not subject to any form of discrimination or abuse. We gladly welcome all participants regardless of disability, age, race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. 

9.2 Any participant or team that fails to accept and adhere to this is not welcome at IFA events and will be immediately excluded from the IFA.

  1. Social Media

10.1 We all have a presence on Twitter and Facebook, and most teams follow each other on these platforms. All teams and associated players must respect each other at all times, both on the pitch and on social media networks.

10.2 Any player or team seen to be disrespecting their opposition or another IFA side will be investigated with any individuals involved and their team facing expulsion from IFA competitions in extreme cases.

10.3 If anybody sees a member of their team commenting in this manner, it is down to the manager to proactively resolve the issue before it escalates.

11 Game Cancellations

11.1 Other than for adverse weather conditions, cancelling a game on the day should never happen. Not only is there a cost involved but potentially a lot of players travelling long distances. The committee will investigate and take the appropriate action in this event.

11.2 Any team withdrawing their availability for a match after 5pm on the Thursday before the game may be subject to sanctions after an investigation by the committee.

11.3 Any team found to be in breach of rules 11.1 and/or 11.2 will forfeit the match 3-0 and cancelling teams will also be liable for any payments already made or cancellations fees (pitch fees, referee expenses, etc).

11.4 Team organisers must keep a record of all communications relating to cancelled matches, as failure to produce these when requested may result in action being taken against teams and/or team organisers.

11.5 Any game that does not take place as announced, for whatever reason, should also be communicated to the IFA using the result announcement form within 28 days of the fixture date as per rule 4.3

  1. IFA Cup Matches

12.1 IFA Cup matches MUST also count towards the IFA League as per rule 3.2.

12.2 For teams to be eligible for the 2020/21 IFA British Cup, they must have completed a minimum of 3 fixtures within the IFA British League during the 2019/20 season. 

12.3 As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the start of the 2020/21 IFA British Cup will be delayed to allow for the late completion of the 2019/20 IFA British Cup. 

  1. Regional Cups

13.1 IFA Cup ties take ultimate priority over regional cup competitions due to the potential distances involved. By their very nature, regional cup matches should be much easier to arrange.

13.2 Any team who wishes to arrange a double-header fixture should also get priority over any regional cup-tie.

13.3 Regional cups are organised by local IFA members and as such, competition rules may differ slightly between regions, but all IFA general rules must be adhered to.

  1. Injuries

14.1 The IFA and its competitions are not registered or affiliated to the FA or any other body, and as such is not covered under the FA’s general insurance terms. The IFA cannot be held responsible for any injury or loss sustained by individuals taking part in IFA competitions. All players compete at their own risk and by taking part accept that this is the case. Players may wish to consider taking out individual insurance cover in the event that they may suffer such injury or loss.

  1. New Teams

15.1 The IFA are always delighted to hear from any team that meets our criteria and would like to join the organisation.

15.2 Existing teams are also encouraged to find new teams, as this benefits everyone.

15.3 New teams are invited to play friendly fixtures against existing teams before being admitted to the IFA League. New teams will also be asked to agree to abide by our rules before any matches are counted towards the league. Fixtures against new teams can only be played as friendly matches before these criteria have been met.

15.4 In the first instance, please could any teams interested in joining the IFA contact us via this website.

Last update: 8 September 2020