Nathan Batchelor is League Secretary of the Rosehill Press Sheffield & District Junior League, Club Secretary of Bessacar FC and an avid Doncaster Rovers supporter.
The Rosehill Press Sheffield & District Junior Sunday League recently carried out a survey with its members covering a wide range of questions, including possible changes to domestic rules and the ways the competition could be improved. One of the two open-ended questions included in the survey was “what does the League do well?” with several respondents saying – “fine us!”
Through this blog post I aim to address this issue.
I think there should be a balance. Leagues need to make their admin as easy as possible – the time needed is not known/seen to most managers.
I do agree that there are too many silly fines within football (adult and youth) but there are a lot of people who don’t realise (or maybe understand) the need for these rules and why they exist, ie the collection of sporting points for the Fair Play trophies. All domestic rules are voted in by the membership, so the League committee is merely enforcing the rules voted in by people involved in the League. If clubs want the fine level changing, they can do so just by putting forward a rule change. If the League did not enforce these rules, member clubs would object.
I tend to find that the ones who moan the most are the ones who keep breaking the rules and therefore have to stump up; if they did as they were asked to do then it wouldn’t happen. Sometimes people have just got to put their hands up and say “we got it wrong.”
It is all very well saying “does it matter if I miss this out or miss that out, just send me an email and I’ll get back to you” when looking at it through your own team micro climate.
But multiply this attitude by possibly hundreds of teams (or in the case of the Rosehill Press Sheffield & District Junior Sunday League 842 teams) and it results in hundreds of emails being sent asking “you have missed off X, Y and Z, can you send me the information?”
Registrars would then be waiting for hundreds of replies back – then having to chase those who have failed to respond, and then you have next weeks sheets to deal with etc. The time spent would be eating into time that could be used to develop/improve the League which would benefit all members.
Some people are simply not good at paperwork and struggle with that side of running a team so fining them probably isn’t going to help them get better. Do you get your goal-keeper taking goal kicks because he struggles to kick it far, or do you get someone who can kick it some distance to take them? Likewise can you get a parent/helper who is comfortable with administration to take on the duties for your club/team?
League committee members would rather everything gets done properly and not have to fine anyone and in-turn save themselves a lot of additional work.
If a league finds itself taking in a lot of fines every month from one team, then this needs to be addressed and something needs to change if it is causing that many problems each week. Are there any common themes? Do they need help or does the format need changing? The Rosehill Press Sheffield & District Junior Sunday looked at tackling this in the close season by introducing a manager guide in the League handbook explaining how to fill in a match sheet etc. Whilst this has worked to a certain extent, the fines received for “match card “offences are still high As a League, we are looking at the match sheet process for future seasons and at ways to use available technology more to assist clubs.
As a League we also have Clubs who like to “dob” each other in. One example would be advertising, rival managers scour websites, Facebook, local shops etc looking for adverts that break League rules. They are right, a rule is a rule but Clubs sometimes think it is only League Officials who are “out to get them”.
Fairness with fines is something which the League is keen to uphold. That is why we have very clearly laid out the rules and fine levels for offences.
How about if leagues refunded fees or rewarded Clubs/teams with good records for admin with vouchers? Clubs with good discipline could have fees returned and reduced for next season? Perhaps a carrot as well as a stick, not just to encourage good admin, but also to change the perception that the league is only interested in fining to make money or maybe the fine system is fine as it is.
I would be interested to hear your feedback. You can Tweet me at @SDJSFL