Rules of the South Antrim Football League


1. League Objectives


(a)    This amalgamation of Clubs shall be called the South Antrim Football League.


(b)    The object of the League is to promote the interests of Amateur association football in Northern Ireland.



2. Composition/membership of the league


(a)    The Clubs approved by the Management Committee and the Annual General Meeting (AGM) as comprising the League will be divided into up to Four Divisions (Premier Division, Division One, etc.) with a maximum of 16 teams in a division.


(b)    Reserve teams of Member Clubs will only be permitted to play in the same Division if the number of clubs competing in the League requires it.


(c)    All issues regarding promotion and relegation will be determined annually by the management committee.  As a guideline the committee will look to relegate the BOTTOM TWO CLUBS in the Premier Division and promote the TOP TWO CLUBS in Division One.  The same method will be used throughout the Divisions.


(d)    All subscription and guarantee fees will be determined annually


(e)    At the end of each season every team shall be required to apply for re-election to the league in order to be considered for the forthcoming season.  Applications should be received not later than the 15th June. 


(f)    The Management Committee shall have the power to remove any club from the competition whose subscription and/or guarantee is unpaid on 30th August of the current season.



3. Administration of the league


(a)    The AGM shall be held not later than the 30th June, each year.  Each club shall be entitled to one voting representative.  The representatives attending this meeting shall appoint for the season, the President, Vice-President and Auditors; Also the Hon. Officials, i.e., Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Treasurer, Secretary & registrations secretary


The Hon. Officials will have a vote, the Chairman, in the case of a tie, being entitled to a casting vote.  The Hon Officials shall be ex-officio members of the Management Committee and any Sub-Committee.


(b)    The business of the League shall be conducted by a Management Committee of no more than eight members, elected annually at the AGM, three members needed to form a Quorum.


The Management Committee may appoint from within its members any number of sub-committees; the sub-committee to be responsible to the Management Committee.


Any representative having more than ten years service, on retiring from the League, shall be made a LIFE MEMBER.


(c)    The Management Committee of the League may collectively put forward Rule changes for consideration and decision at the AGM of the League.


(d)    Each club must appoint an official representative who will attend all League meetings to arrange fixtures.  This official or his substitute must be a person of standing within his club and have access to all facts required to arrange fixtures.  In the event of a Club being unrepresented, it shall be fined £20.00, for each Meeting unattended. Any alteration in the Club Secretary’s name or address must be given in writing to the Hon. Secretary of the League.


(e)    On the Hon Secretary receiving a requisition signed by half of the Clubs, he shall forthwith convene a General Meeting.


(f)    The League’s financial year shall end on the 31st May.


(g)    All communications must be addressed to the League Secretary at their address or email address.  Communications will only be acceptable if from the registered club secretary.


(h)    The League may instruct each Club to contribute any sum needed to meet any deficiency at the end to the season.


(i)    No alteration shall be made in these rules, except at the AGM.  Proposed rule changes must be given to the Secretary before the 30th April, in each year.  This will be forwarded to Clubs at least seven days before the AGM. A three–fourths (3/4) majority of those present and voting is needed to alter the Rules.



4. Match rules/ground requirements


(a)    A Club may at its discretion use three substitute players from five named at any time in any match, except to replace a player who has been sent off by the referee.  The substitutions can only be made when play is stopped and the referee has given permission.


(b)    All players must be named on the match card before the start of the game.


(c)    In the case of reserve teams, no club shall be allowed to play more than 4 recognised 1st team players in any one match.  A recognised 1st team player is one who has taken part in 5 or more 1st team games that season.  A 3rd team can play up to 4 recognised 2nd team players or 2 recognised 2nd team players and 2 recognised 1st team players. Clubs must highlight these players on the match card


(d)    Any team playing an ineligible player or players (whether through non-registration or otherwise) will be fined for each ineligible player played and shall forfeit the points won in such a match.  An additional 3 points will also be deducted from the club. 


(e)    Objections about the ground, goal posts or ball must be lodged by the Captain with the Referee, before the game starts, and the referee shall have the power to have such objections made right before the game starts.



5. Registering players


(a)    Any amateur member of a club shall be allowed to play, subject to the approval of the League provided he is registered as a player for that club.  A player will be considered registered when a confirmation email or slip is received by the club from the registration secretary.


(b)    All registration forms must be completed in full and must have a clearly defined start and end date. 


(c)    Players may be registered between 01 June and 31 March each season. Amateur players can be registered for a maximum of 2 years.


(d)    A player may only register for one club at a time.  Priority of registration shall decide to which Club a player belongs.


(e)    Registration forms must be received by the registration secretary a minimum of 48 hours before the date you wish the player to be eligible to play from(date of posting will apply).


(f)    A Club Secretary can receive information from the League Secretary regarding the registration of any player by applying in writing accompanied by a fee of £2 for each player.



6. Transferring players


(a)    Players may register with a maximum of 3 clubs during the period 01 July to 30 June, but they are only eligible to play official matches for 2 clubs in this period.  They may only register for the same club twice in one season.


(b)    The deadline for transferring players between 2 clubs is 31 March each season.  To transfer a player the player and clubs must complete a transfer form signed by the player and the club secretary, chairperson or manager of both clubs.


(c)    Transfer forms must be received by the registration secretary a minimum of 48 hours before the date you wish the player to be eligible to play from(date of posting will apply).



7. Protests


(a)    Protests must be received by Registered mail within two days of the match (Sundays not included), enclosing a deposit of £50.00.  A copy must also be sent by Registered mail at the same time to the Club protested against.  The fee will be forfeited if the protest is rejected.  Post Office receipts shall be conclusive evidence as to the date of posting.


(b)    Protests must include proof of any allegation.


(c)    Members of the Management Committee can lodge a protest in writing without payment of fee provided the Club they represent does not stand to gain, and the League Secretary shall give due notice of same to the Club protested against.


(d)    In the case of a protest being upheld against a Club that has won a match due to a violation of the rules, points so won will be deducted from them and awarded to their opponents.



8. Fixtures


(a)    All matches shall be played under the jurisdiction of the Irish Football Association, Ltd., and subject to the Laws of the Game. 


(b)    Clubs must play fixtures on dates arranged by the League, unless the ground is declared unplayable by the Referee, or the local council.  The Referee shall inspect the ground prior to the kick-off, and shall immediately give his decision as to fitness of ground for play. 


(c)    Clubs must play on all available Saturdays from the first Saturday in September.  Applications for a ‘free week’ must be received in writing at least 2 weeks prior to the free date sought.  Granting of such “free” dates will be entirely at the discretion of the League secretary depending upon circumstances pertaining at the time. 


(d)    No fixture can be postponed, altered or amended unless both Clubs and the League secretary are agreeable or a ‘free week’ has been agreed. 


(e)    Clubs must have their League fixtures completed at least three playing days prior to the closing date of the season.


(f)    If for any reason the Referee has terminated a match and at least seventy minutes have been played, the Management Committee may permit the result to stand, provided they think there was no obvious intent to seek an advantage by either team, which resulted in the termination.  If the management committee think there was intent by a team to gain an advantage, no matter how long has been played, the committee can decide to award the points to the non-defaulting club or to replay the match.


(g)    If a match has been terminated before the recognised ‘full-time’ both Clubs must submit a report to the League within three working days.


(h)    Clubs must not arrange fixtures on the date on which the Semi-Final or Final Ties of Cups are to be played, except by the express permission of the League.


(i)    Should a team not turn up in reasonable time, or fail to fulfil their fixture, they will be dealt with by the management committee.  In the case of a match not being re-arranged the Management Committee will impose a fine of £100.  The non-defaulting club can claim back from the league any costs incurred by submitting a request in writing within 7 days of the game.


A team failing to fulfil a fixture 3 times in the current season will be dismissed from the league.


Reasonable time shall be understood to mean the kick-off shall not be delayed more than 20 minutes after the official time of starting.


If a club has two teams registered with the league and cannot field one team on any given date, then the 1st team must take priority.



9. Club Kits/Colours


(a)    Each Club in the League shall register its colours with the Hon. Secretary.  In the event of two clubs having the same colours the home Club must change.  With the exception of the goalkeeper all players’ shirts must be numbered.  A goalkeeper must wear a shirt or jersey of distinctive colour from that of his own club, of his opponents and also the referee.



10.         Referees


(a)    Where available the Referee allocation officer will appoint Referees for each game.  If the Referee fails to turn up or there is no official referee allocated, the official will be decided as follows;

·        the away teams qualified “club referee" will officiate.

If the away team does not have a “club referee" willing to officiate;

·        the home teams qualified "club referee" can officiate.  

·        If neither team has a "club referee" the away team has the choice of whether they want to referee the game.


     The Home Club must, in these circumstances provide a whistle acceptable for us by the Referee.


(b)    The referee’s official match card may be inspected by the secretary or other responsible official of either competing club, at the conclusion of the match.


(c)    Both clubs shall pay the referee his fee plus travelling expenses, this cost must be split halfway between the two competing clubs. Any club paying a referee more than his just fee and travelling expenses shall be deemed guilty of misconduct and fined.


(d)    Where no play is possible owing to causes over which neither club has control the referee, if present shall only be entitled to travelling expenses.


(e)    In the event of the official referee failing to arrive, the home team shall ensure the match card is sent to the secretary immediately after the match. If this information is not with the secretary within 7 days the home club will be fined £30.



11.         Conduct


(a)    A player sent off is automatically suspended for 1 game.  If sent off for violent conduct / headbutt a fine of £30.00 will be imposed by the league.  This is in addition to any fine imposed by the County Antrim Football Association. For every dismissal a referee’s report should be sent to the County Antrim Football Association.


(b)    A club receiving 5 or more cautions in the one game will be fined £20.00.


(c)    In the event of the referee issuing a caution or dismissing a player the secretary or other responsible official of the club concerned shall at the end of the match ensure the referee had the correct spelling of the player’s name and address if required.


(d)    Arising from reports submitted by Referees, Clubs or members of the Management Committee concerning players, officials, or any other person in connection with any match under the jurisdiction of the League the Management Committee, in the interests of maintaining good discipline within the League, may deal with any such player, official or club to which they   are connected as may be deemed necessary.  This may include the withholding of player registration or permission to officiate in any capacity in relation to any fixture match or      matches   within the league for a stipulated period. 


(e)    If a referee submits a report alleging a player, official or supporter has assaulted him, then the club concerned may be suspended until the committee deals with the reports from the incident.  Any penalty imposed by the league will be in addition to any punishment imposed by the County Antrim FA.  If found guilty, the league may consider the expulsion of the club from the league, depending on the circumstances.


(f)    If a supporter, player or official of a club is reported to the County Antrim FA for their behaviour during a league match and the County Antrim FA finds them guilty of that offence, then the league will deduct 3 points from their total.  This is in addition to any punishment imposed by the County Antrim FA.


Note:  Field offences and managers sent from the line are not included in this rule.


(g)    The Management Committee shall have the power to deal with offending Clubs, players, officials, as they may deem fit, and to deal with any matter not provided for in these rules.


(h)    The management committee reserve the right to increase the fine for any teams breaking the same rule more than once during the season.



12.         Determining League winners


(a)    At the end of each season’s Competition the Club with the highest points shall be declared Champions.  The method of scoring in all matches shall be three points for a win and one for a draw.


(b)    In the case of a club having played in the League during the current season, failing to fulfil its fixtures due to resignation, suspension or dismissal from the League, all record of matches played will be deleted from the current seasons records of the League.


At the end of the season for the purpose of Relegation, such clubs will be considered as the bottom club of their division, but will not exist in the lower division in the ensuing season.


(c)    In the case of a club having failed to play any matches in the League during the current season either through resignation, suspension or dismissal it will be considered for the purposes of Promotion and Relegation that such clubs have not existed in the League during the current season.


(d)    Should clubs be on equal points, they must ‘play off’ on a ground decided by the Management Committee to decide the winner.  The proceeds of such a game to be divided between the two competing Clubs and the League in the following proportions: 50 percent (net) to the League and 25 percent (net) to each of the clubs.


(e)    If the trophy is damaged whilst in the possession of a club, the cost of any repair will be the responsibility of the offending club. Any violation of this requirement may result in the club being dismissed from the league.



13.         Other competitions


(a)    The Management committee together with the honorary officials of the league may organise annual Knock-out cup competitions under the Irish F.A. Articles of Association, the laws of the game, the competition rules and where applicable the rules of the league.


(b)    All Knock-out cup competitions will be run under the same rules as that of the league where applicable.  No player shall play for more than one team in any Cup competition (this includes first and second teams).


(c)    In all rounds of any Knock-out competition, including the final, should scores be level after 90 minutes, 2 x 10 minute periods of extra time will be played (Golden goal will not apply). 

If the scores are still level at the end of extra time, the tie shall be decided by the taking of penalty kicks in accordance with the conditions approved by the International F.A. Board.


(d)    If a referee fails to turn up for a semi-final or final tie then that tie will not go ahead and will be re-arranged for a later date.


(e)    Proceeds from any final ties will be divided as follows: half to the league and one quarter to each competing club.