How To Become A Football Referee

Football referees are somewhat of an enigma. No one seems to know anything about them off the pitch. They are a bit like volcanoes in a sense that we are only aware of them when active. 


These men in black are high profile figures at most professional games of football. Usually seen running around the pitch with yellow and red cards at the ready, they are on scene to give the all important judgments. 


Before you can even consider becoming one, you have to be at least 14 years old, extremely physically fit as well as having good eye sight.


There’s no point continuing if you can’t run around a pitch for at least 90 minutes and concentrate to the highest degree.




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The first step is to attend a basic referee’s course which you can do once you’ve registered with your local county football association. This really is the first rung of the ladder. There are 9 classes in total which are conducted usually in the evening. You will then have to take two exams based on the classes, one being written, the other oral. 


Once you’ve passed these exams, you will be at level eight. All eight levels have to be passed to reach your goal (if you pardon the pun). On the way to becoming a level one referee, you will have to pass through a hurdle of conference, semi professional and panel leagues. There are actually eleven levels in total in the complete sphere of refereeing. 


In order to progress, you have to get through the levels by a combination of passing assessments and successful completion of matches. This method is used to progress through the clubs as track records mean everything. It’s a way of earning your stripes so to speak. 


Once you reach level one, you will be eligible to be on the National List of Referees. This is the top level of the domestic hierarchy but some may want to go further. A step beyond level one is ‘International Level. 


This means what is says in that you will now be able to officiate top international matches anywhere in the world.





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Once you reach the very top of the tree, you have to conduct yourself in a way that is expected of a top international official. You will be expected to be impartial at all times and highly competent in your duties. 


Referees have to endure a lot of stick from both the players and the fans as emotions often run high when a decision doesn’t go their way. Andy D’Urso of Billericay remembers being called a ‘f***ing wanker’ by Lee Hendrie during one match. A referee really has to have a thick skin in the midst of adversity.


You won’t get rich like the other 22 players on the pitch but a £45,000 starting salary isn’t too bad and there is potential to increase on that.


So if you fancy a life in the limelight without the glory, get signed up today.


Written by Jon, who thanks Ladbrokes Games for their help with this article.




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