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The FA Referee Course



The FA Referee Course is designed to equip new referees with the key skills and knowledge they will need to be able to referee grassroots football matches safely and effectively. It is for people aged 14 and over who want to referee mini soccer, 9 v 9 and/or 11 v 11 football.  


The course comprises of pre-course (online) learning and face-to-face training. You must complete the online learning before attending the face-to-face element of the course.  
Course Content  
Online Learning 

The online learning comprises of two courses: 



You will need an account (FAN) to complete the courses. For further information please see our helpful guide here. 


Face to Face Training 
There is 11 hours of face-to-face training (normally one evening, followed by a full day), which mixes training room work with practical activity on a pitch. Key messages from the online learning are reinforced throughout. The training room work includes: 
• Fun, interactive quizzes 
• How to establish rapport and build relationships with players and coaches 
• Recognising and dealing with foul challenges and handball 
• Managing offside 
• Dealing with inappropriate behaviour  
• Managing players  
On the pitch, you will have the opportunity to turn your knowledge into skills through refereeing game-based scenarios. You will practice: 
• Communicating decisions 
• Cautioning and sending off techniques 
• Managing the kick off, free kicks, penalty kicks, corner kicks and throw-ins  
• Positioning in open play and at restarts 
• Being an assistant referee 
Qualifying as a Referee 
To qualify as a referee, you must also referee five games after you have attended the face-to-face training. You will then be able to attend a ‘callback’ evening, at which stage you will receive your certificate and Northamptonshire FA badge.  
You be supported through the five games by Northamptonshire County FA, who may be able to appoint a mentor to come and watch you referee! As you progress, you will then be able to access further training opportunities, both online and face to face. 


Want to become a referee, what do I do now? 


Step 1 – Complete Online Laws of the Game Module 


Complete the LOTG module as detailed above.  


Step 2 – Complete Required Safeguarding Training 

Before you can become a qualified referee, you also will need to complete FA Safeguarding training, so why not get ahead of the game and complete this training now…. 

  • Everyone must complete the online FA Safeguarding For All Course 

  • If you are 16 or older and planning on officiating youth Football you must have an in date FA DBS 


Step 3 – Book onto a course 


Have a look at our ‘Available Dates’ and book onto a course that suits your availability.  

Course Dates

Course Times        Venue Booking Link





Kettering Buccleuch Academy 






 Kettering Buccleuch Academy





Waterside Campus - University Of Northampton  BOOK THE COURSE






 Kettering Buccleuch Academy BOOK THE COURSE






Waterside Campus - University Of Northampton 





All referees have to undertake FA Safeguarding Children training before they will be able to register with The FA as a referee. You will complete this either before or during the course and certification will last for three years. The cost of this is included in the course fee. 

All referees aged 16 years or over who wish to officiate in youth football must undertake an FA CRC enhanced check. This is a simple online process which will be fully explained to you at the introduction evening and will need to be in process before the commencement of the course. Certification last for three years and there is a small additional charge for this process. 

     After completion of the pre-course study programme (Unit 1), you will move onto Unit 2 of the overall course, which contains the following sessions:

1) Practical Referee Training - Unit 2:

This is an all-day session so you will need to come prepared with food and drinks etc., plus come suitably dressed; a change of footwear is essential as are shin-guards. It will involve learning how to referee outside on the field of play and also involve some classroom work. You will be given the learning resources and all necessary equipment (whistle, red/yellow cards etc.) at this session but you will need to bring a pen and pad to take notes. At the end of this day, you will have the opportunity to referee part of a game among your group of candidates.

2) Fouls and Misconduct Training - Unit 3:

This is a 2½ hour session which will include ‘Recognising Challenges’ and the Misconduct procedure.

3) Practical Referee Training and Evaluation - Unit 4:

This is a second all-day session which will be mostly completed outside on the field of play. The second part of the day includes a practical evaluation where you will have another opportunity to referee part of a game among the group. The evaluation will include staged scenarios which will provide you with opportunity to consolidate your learning from the previous sessions and receive immediate feedback. Provided you attain the minimum standard required when evaluated, you will be sanctioned to operate as an FA Level 9 (trainee) referee.

4) Experience & Mentored Unit - Unit 5:

Having successfully graduated from the first four units of the training course, you will now officiate in a minimum of 5 games of football (9v9 or 11v11) and will be mentored during a number of games by FA Referee Mentors. A record of these games is compiled as evidence of your development. During this period, in addition to gaining practical experience, you will have time to learn and revise the Laws of the Game thoroughly before returning to complete the final unit of the course.

5) FA Examination & Call Back Unit - Unit 6:

This is a 2 hour session and the final part of the course. It involves the successful completion of the FA Examination of the Laws of the Game (a multiple choice examination of approx. 30 minutes duration), and an opportunity to review and discuss your learning experiences from your games thus far as a trainee referee. You will be rewarded with an FA Referee Certificate of Qualification along with an FA Referee badge when successful completion of the course is attained (usually within 4 weeks of completion of the course). Unit 6 can only be attended and completed when a minimum of 5 games as an FA Level 9 (trainee) referee have been refereed. The County FA will advise you of the dates of the Unit 6 sessions throughout the season and these can be planned in with your course tutor. It is possible to attend an alternative date either earlier or later if necessary but this final session must be completed within 4 calendar months of the date of the first Practical Training Session at the start of Unit 2. 

Successful completion of all six units of The FA Referee Course sees the candidate move from FA Level 9 (trainee) to FA Level 8 referee (if aged 14 or 15) or FA Level 7 referee (if/when aged 16 or over). 

Appointment of these first five games is crucial to the course and for your self-development as a referee. These will be communicated to you by your County FA either prior to or during the course itself. 

Yes you will need to re-register with Northamptonshire FA each season. This is an online process and currently costs £20 (about one match fee). Further information can be found by clicking here.

Northamptonshire FA provide a strong support network for newly qualified referees. In addition to being mentored early-on, you will be invited to attend development sessions with relevant advice available. You can also contact the County FA Referee Development Team at any time should you have any issues or questions. 

Northamptonshire FA is keen to see and help its referees develop and progress to achieve their full potential and as such, have a structured promotion pathway for referees. The basic requirement is that you must have refereed a minimum of 20 games prior to seeking to be promoted. Applications to Northamptonshire FA for promotion are made during February of each year. For further details contact your Referee Development Officer at the County FA offices or click here.