2.1 Each Club shall register its Ground, and its pitch dimensions, with the Competition prior to the start of each Playing Season. It will be misconduct on the part of a Club to alter its pitch dimensions during a season unless with prior written consent of the Board. The Board may at any time require a Club, at its own cost, to submit a report from a qualified independent source certifying the pitch dimensions.
Dimensions of the field of play for all Competition matches shall be:-
- Length -Maximum 120 yards (110 metres) – Minimum 110 yards (100 metres)
- Width – Maximum 80 yards (75 metres) – Minimum 70 yards (64 metres)
No Club shall remove to another Ground without first obtaining written consent of the Board; such consent not to be withheld unreasonably. In consideration whether to give such consent the Board shall have regard to all the circumstances of the case and shall not grant consent unless it is reasonably satisfied that such consent:-
- would be consistent with the objectives of the Competition as set out in the Memorandum of Association;
- would be appropriate having in mind the relationship (if any) between the locality with which by its name or otherwise the applicant Club is traditionally associated and that in which such Club proposes to establish its Ground;
- would not adversely affect such Club’s Officials, Players, supporters, shareholders, sponsors and others having an interest in its activities;
- would not have an adverse effect on visiting Clubs;
- would not adversely affect Clubs having their registered Grounds in the immediate vicinity of the proposed location, and
- would enhance the reputation of the Competition and promote the game of association football generally.
The Club must disclose, as soon as practicable, plans and details of any proposed move to a new stadium. The location of the proposed new stadium must meet with the approval of the Board.
Without prejudice to the provisions of Rule 4.12 a Club shall forthwith notify the Competition of any proposed change in its circumstances relating to the occupation of its Ground. By way of example, and without limitation, a proposed change may include a sale of any freehold interest (with or without subsequent leaseback) or any surrender or variation or a lease or licence.
2.2 All Clubs shall have Grounds and headquarters situated in England, the Channel Islands, Isle of Man if applicable or Wales and the Competition Secretary shall send their names and particulars to The FA annually by the date appointed by, and in the format required by, The FA. Clubs playing in England shall be duly affiliated at all times to a recognised County Football Association. Welsh Clubs shall be affiliated to The FA of Wales. Each Club shall notify the Competition Secretary of its affiliation number each year as soon as practicable after it has received same. Each Club shall return to the General Manager a fully completed questionnaire relating to Form “D” required by The FA by the date given in the circular letter accompanying the questionnaire issued by the Competition Secretary.
2.3.1 A Club’s Ground may be shared with another Club or any other club (including a club engaged in another sport) providing, where sharing with a football club the Club or club playing in the most senior competition has priority of fixtures at all times and, where sharing with a club engaged in another sport, the Club has priority of fixtures. A Club will not be permitted to ground share to gain promotion or to avoid relegation. Ground sharing may not be permitted when one of the sharers retains the use of another ground unless that club can show by means of a refused planning permission or similar that it cannot meet the requirements of the Criteria Document at that ground. Any Club wishing to share a Ground or intending to move to a new Ground must obtain the written consent of the Board. Any Ground sharing for a period exceeding thirteen (13) weeks must be in writing and a written agreement must first be approved by the Board before being entered into and (except in an emergency) must be completed by 31 March in any year to be effective for the following Playing Season. A copy of the completed signed and dated agreement must be received by the Competition within fourteen days of the approval being sent to the Club.
2.3.2 The Club as at 31 March in any year shall either:
- (i) Own the freehold of the Ground, or
- (ii) Have a lease for the Ground that extends uninterrupted for a minimum of the next Playing Season, or (iii) Possess an agreement for the use of the Ground that is acceptable to The Football Association following consultation with the relevant Competition.
In each case the Club must provide to the Competition of which it is a member and to The Football Association:
If the Ground is freehold either currently dated Official Copies of the freehold title at the Land Registry in the name of the entity in membership of the Competition or, if unregistered, a Certificate of Title from the Club’s solicitor showing that the Ground is owned by the entity in membership of the Competition, or
If the Ground is held leasehold a copy of the signed and dated lease in the name of the entity in membership of the Competition; if the expiry date of the lease has already passed or is dated before the end of the next full Playing Season, a certificate from the Club’s solicitor as to whether or not a notice has been given by the landlord to terminate the lease. In addition the Club must provide evidence of registration at the Land Registry, or explain why the Lease is not registered.
If the Ground is subject to an acceptable agreement a copy of the signed and dated agreement for the use of the Ground together with confirmation from The Football Association, following consultation with the relevant Competition, that the agreement is acceptable.
The Club must disclose whether the Club’s occupation of the Ground is subject to any third party option, whether the ground is charged by way of security and whether or not any break clauses in the lease or agreement have been exercised either by the landlord or the tenant.
In all cases The Football Association and the Competition of which it is a member have the right to call for further information.
2.3.3 A Club’s Ground must comply with the Criteria Document for the step in the National League System at which the Club is playing.
2.4 No club which is a “nursery” club or a reserve side of a football club shall be eligible for membership of the Competition.
A club shall be deemed to be a “nursery” club if it is under obligation, written or otherwise, to a football club by reason of which it has not the sole and entire control of its own management, finance and Players.
2.5 Clubs seeking membership or applying to retain membership of the Competition must comply with the requirements provided for in the Criteria Document for the step at which the Club is playing. Only clubs which meet these criteria in full will be eligible for membership. All Clubs visited by representatives of the Competition in pursuance of the document will pay a non-returnable fee. In the absence of a procedure for application for membership being established by The FA, the Board shall establish such procedure.
The Board shall establish a procedure for inspecting Clubs’ grounds from time to time to ensure that the grade attained by that ground is maintained.
2.6 The Competition and the FA shall determine a time scale whereby all Clubs in membership must attain the grade provided for in the Criteria Document. The grade applicable for each Club for the commencement of a Playing Season shall be that existing at the previous 31st March, such grading to be ascertained by an inspection carried out on or before 31st March or as soon as practicable thereafter. Any Club not maintaining the grade set for the Competition may be relegated at the end of the Playing Season to a step determined by The FA.
Any delay in inspection shall in no way release a Club from its obligation to have its ground ready for inspection. If for any reason a Club’s existing ground, or any new ground in which it proposes to play its home matches in the season following inspection, is not available for grading by 31st March prior to commencement of the relevant season then the Club must, by the 31st March, submit to the Board in writing its proposals for a venue for its home matches in the following season (“alternative proposal”), such alternative proposal to be considered (and if appropriate) approved at the next Board Meeting after 31st March. The alternative proposal must, inter alia, contain documentary evidence in support of any ground sharing arrangements and evidence that the proposed ground is demonstrably suitable at a level which the relevant club will be competing. The alternative proposal may not be for a continuation of any ground share arrangement if the Club has had a ground sharing arrangement for the previous 2 seasons, or any part thereof, even if those arrangements have related to more than one ground.
Any approval of the alternative proposal will be subject to the issue of a grading certificate. The Board will use all reasonable endeavours to inspect the ground after receiving the alternative proposal and prior to the Board meeting, but if it is unable to do so then any approval of the alternative proposal will be subject to the issue of a satisfactory grading certificate. In the event of a Club not having received a grading certificate by 31st March and not having had its alternative proposal approved at the relevant Board Meeting, it shall be relegated forthwith at the end of the playing season to a level determined by The Football Association.
2.7 Any Club which is incorporated must be incorporated in England and Wales. Any Club wishing to incorporate shall notify The FA, its Affiliated Association and the Competition Secretary before it makes any resolutions in this regard. Any person wishing to be appointed as an Officer to a Club must comply with the requirements of The FA Owners’ and Directors’ Test Regulations and send to the Competition Secretary a copy of the Owners’ and Directors’ Declaration within 5 days of sending the same to The FA.
2.8 In the event that any Club which is an unincorporated association incorporates itself it shall notify the Competition Secretary in writing within 14 days of the passing of the resolution to take this action and shall with such notice provide the Competition Secretary with a copy of the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the company. Any amendments to the Memorandum and Articles of Association of a Club must be notified to the Competition Secretary in writing within 14 days of the passing of the resolution with a copy of the change(s).
- Transfer of Membership
- Transfer as a Going Concern