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Level 4 - What Happens?

Not to get too "on a high horse" or anything, but another thing that occurred to me is that poor payment only reinforces a history of top referees rarely coming from poorer backgrounds.

It's fine to do refereeing as a hobby and to think of the alternative being sitting at home doing very little, but for some people, that alternative is "earn £11.44/hour working a minimum wage Saturday job". At grassroots, ~3 hours for ~£30 means it's a reasonable choice of alternative employment, especially if a job will accommodate a morning shift first, or an afternoon shift after a Sunday morning game. But swapping that for somewhere around £50 to cover 7 or 8 hours where you can't also be working a different job (or where you might not even get a game having turned down work to leave that time free!) isn't an option everyone can afford to choose.

It means top referees can only ever come from backgrounds where they were young and well off enough not to need a properly paying Saturday job. That's an obvious impact on the economic diversity of top officials, along with statistically also having effects on racial diversity etc. Football is full of "rags to riches" stories with talented players - but refereeing isn't set up to allow that same story.
 
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It means top referees can only ever come from backgrounds where they were young and well off enough not to need a properly paying Saturday job. That's an obvious impact on the economic diversity of top officials, along with statistically also having effects on racial diversity etc. Football is full of "rags to riches" stories with talented players - but refereeing isn't set up to allow that same story.
Definitely agree on this factor. I couldn't afford to give up the time midweek if I wasn't lucky enough to work a professional 9-5 on a median salary.

As a student I needed to use the spare time to work a better paying job, instead of qualifying at 19 I ended up qualifying at 24 once I got out of uni and had a career.
 
Not to get too "on a high horse" or anything, but another thing that occurred to me is that poor payment only reinforces a history of top referees rarely coming from poorer backgrounds.

It's fine to do refereeing as a hobby and to think of the alternative being sitting at home doing very little, but for some people, that alternative is "earn £11.44/hour working a minimum wage Saturday job". At grassroots, ~3 hours for ~£30 means it's a reasonable choice of alternative employment, especially if a job will accommodate a morning shift first, or an afternoon shift after a Sunday morning game. But swapping that for somewhere around £50 to cover 7 or 8 hours where you can't also be working a different job (or where you might not even get a game having turned down work to leave that time free!) isn't an option everyone can afford to choose.

It means top referees can only ever come from backgrounds where they were young and well off enough not to need a properly paying Saturday job. That's an obvious impact on the economic diversity of top officials, along with statistically also having effects on racial diversity etc. Football is full of "rags to riches" stories with talented players - but refereeing isn't set up to allow that same story.
I think this is a touch extreme. Young people can begin their refereeing up to level 4 without ever actually doing a Saturday afternoon game. Only level 4 requires saturday availability. Also, while it's an advantage to begin young, it's not impossible to become a top referee starting at an older age. (mid 20s).

But then refereeing isn't meant to be an 'alternative employment' until you're at the top level anyway. Players would have to choose between playing football and earning money in similar circumstances. Refereeing is no different, just that we earn a little bit of money regardless.

I understand the point you're making, but I think it's a bit of a stretch to suggest that low fees at level 4 prevent people from certain class backgrounds making it to the top level.
 
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I think this is a touch extreme. Young people can begin their refereeing up to level 4 without ever actually doing a Saturday afternoon game. Only level 4 requires saturday availability. Also, while it's an advantage to begin young, it's not impossible to become a top referee starting at an older age. (mid 20s).

But then refereeing isn't meant to be an 'alternative employment' until you're at the top level anyway. Players would have to choose between playing football and earning money in similar circumstances. Refereeing is no different, just that we earn a little bit of money regardless.

I understand the point you're making, but I think it's a bit of a stretch to suggest that low fees at level 4 prevent a certain class of people from making it to the top level.
I think low fees in general do act as a barrier, hence why charities and the RA/FA have offered to fund courses and kit that these fees are meant to help cover.

It's like unpaid/low paid internships in other industries, sure you don't HAVE to do one, but it helps a hell of a lot if you can and to do it sooner rather than later.

There's little to no support for disabled people who maybe have an interest but would need support to access the initial course and build the skills or confidence to actually officiate. I did this in my own time/via my employer once I started a career, but it meant refereeing didn't start for me until my mid twenties. Despite the fact that neurodiversity is sought after in fields similar to refereeing all the time.
 
I think this is a touch extreme. Young people can begin their refereeing up to level 4 without ever actually doing a Saturday afternoon game. Only level 4 requires saturday availability. Also, while it's an advantage to begin young, it's not impossible to become a top referee starting at an older age. (mid 20s).
AT was in the NPL (Step 2) by the age of 24, MO picked up a whistle at 14. "It's not impossible" isn't a great argument for why a barrier is low enough as things are!

But then refereeing isn't meant to be an 'alternative employment' until you're at the top level anyway. Players would have to choose between playing football and earning money in similar circumstances. Refereeing is no different, just that we earn a little bit of money regardless.
That's exactly my point. The fact that you or I can choose to do it as a hobby is fine for us - but the fact someone less fortunate has to make that choice isn't a good thing. All you're really doing is making the point that grassroots fees should go us as well as L4+ fees!
I understand the point you're making, but I think it's a bit of a stretch to suggest that low fees at level 4 prevent a certain class of people from making it to the top level.
I don't really see any reason why it wouldn't? As soon as you put someone in a position where they have to choose between minimum wage and a refereeing fee significantly below that, it becomes a hobby for people with a degree of financial comfort only. And when that hobby has the possibility to develop into an extremely well paid career, but only for people who are able to work past the "as a hobby only" barrier, the barrier to entry and the lack of fairness is obvious.
 
AT was in the NPL (Step 2) by the age of 24, MO picked up a whistle at 14. "It's not impossible" isn't a great argument for why a barrier is low enough as things are!


That's exactly my point. The fact that you or I can choose to do it as a hobby is fine for us - but the fact someone less fortunate has to make that choice isn't a good thing. All you're really doing is making the point that grassroots fees should go us as well as L4+ fees!

I don't really see any reason why it wouldn't? As soon as you put someone in a position where they have to choose between minimum wage and a refereeing fee significantly below that, it becomes a hobby for people with a degree of financial comfort only. And when that hobby has the possibility to develop into an extremely well paid career, but only for people who are able to work past the "as a hobby only" barrier, the barrier to entry and the lack of fairness is obvious.

Neil Swarbrick started at 29 and did 8 years on the Premier League...

If you increase fees at grass roots, grassroots footballers will have to pay more in subs. That would then potentially force them to make the choice between playing football and not because they can't afford it, by the same logic.

People don't have to choose between them. Firstly minimum wage is pittance until you get to 21 years old anyway, by that point you could be a L3 if you started early enough. Once you're 21, you can then either be in full time employment and referee in your spare time, or perhaps you're at University etc, and will have to put refereeing on the back foot.

Fully appreciate that people that have certain backgrounds are not necessarily given a fair chance in life full stop, but I don't buy in to it at all that refereeing needs to change fees to try and assist in more people from poor backgrounds getting in to it. I can't comprehend many (or any) situations where somebody who is at L5 and young enough to still make it would then be forced to not follow it any further because they can't afford to take a cut in hourly pay (based on hours out of the house).

At the end of the day, it's not comparable to internships etc, because they are all taken initially with the end goal of a job. Refereeing is a hobby, that has a small possibility of becoming a full time job. Those that will have the passion and talent to get to the same level are very likely to find a way to work it, even if they're from poor backgrounds.
 
Those that will have the passion and talent to get to the same level are very likely to find a way to work it, even if they're from poor backgrounds.
This “pull yourself up by your bootstraps, you’d do it if you really wanted to” attitude doesn’t work. It might have worked for Saturday jobs in the 1990s but it doesn’t work now.

People are priced out of some careers and roles all the time by things like this. If it was simply a case of “finding a way to make it work” then we’d never have to build ramps for disabled people or have positive discrimination schemes or even COURSES AND KIT FUNDED BY CHARITIES AND THE FA. Even they are admitting that cost is a barrier.
 
This “pull yourself up by your bootstraps, you’d do it if you really wanted to” attitude doesn’t work. It might have worked for Saturday jobs in the 1990s but it doesn’t work now.

People are priced out of some careers and roles all the time by things like this. If it was simply a case of “finding a way to make it work” then we’d never have to build ramps for disabled people or have positive discrimination schemes or even COURSES AND KIT FUNDED BY CHARITIES AND THE FA. Even they are admitting that cost is a barrier.

I'm not talking about course fees, equipment fees, disabled ramps or anything else, I'm talking about the pay per hour out of the house for a L4 vs a L5. This was what the comment was initially about.
 
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I'm not talking about course fees, I'm talking about the pay per hour out of the house for a L4 vs a L5. This was what the comment was initially about.
It's all the same conversation. If not course and kit fees (which do go up at Level 4 now of course) then petrol or public transport costs go up. Along with time costs (time is money). At level 4 a midweek game suddenly means you can't work as long that day, because you need to be at a certain ground 2 hours away by 5/6 PM.

Every professional referee I've heard speak has talked about their jobs working with them to help make their movement from 4 up the ladder easier, that's a privilege that most jobs do not afford you. Most jobs don't give a monkeys about you outside work, they need your body in the office/shop/warehouse/whatever in the shifts and times they want you there.
 
I'm not talking about course fees, equipment fees, disabled ramps or anything else, I'm talking about the pay per hour out of the house for a L4 vs a L5. This was what the comment was initially about.
Higher for L5s. BUT, despite the fact there are barriers, if you assume everyone can do it, only those who want to will bother. I think this is what he is trying to get at. The problem is you can't assume everyone can do it.
 
It's all the same conversation. If not course and kit fees (which do go up at Level 4 now of course) then petrol or public transport costs go up. Along with time costs (time is money). At level 4 a midweek game suddenly means you can't work as long that day, because you need to be at a certain ground 2 hours away by 5/6 PM.

Every professional referee I've heard speak has talked about their jobs working with them to help make their movement from 4 up the ladder easier, that's a privilege that most jobs do not afford you. Most jobs don't give a monkeys about you outside work, they need your body in the office/shop/warehouse/whatever in the shifts and times they want you there.

With all due respect, while I know what you’re saying, it’s not part of the conversation because the conversation was about barriers preventing L5s becoming L4s. This means we’re only referring to people who have already qualified and have kit.

Mileage is paid at level 4, or if not paid on any particular league, an all in fee is paid that allows for fuel cost and suddenly the fee is bigger than L5. So the fuel is irrelevant.
And midweek availability isn’t essential to progress. Only Saturday availability is a requirement.
 
Travel time is a bit of a misnomer, how many people are paid for the time it takes them to travel to work? I live in North London and frequently have to work in Eastleigh, that's the best part of 6 hours travelling a day, I leave the house at 5:30 and get home around 20:00, but don't get paid any extra for it. Funnily enough my previous company started paying for travel time when working out of hours, it was routinely abused as people would travel 4 hours round trip to do 1 hours work and claim 5 hours plus their travel costs, so was very quickly scrapped.

I don't know about other counties, but when I applied for L4 I was told in no uncertain terms that it would require long hours for lower fees than I was previously getting. I chose to do that, no one forced me to. For much of the time I was L4 there was a huge project at work that could only be done at weekends. Except on weekends where I had to work as there weren't enough staff to allow me not to, my colleagues were earning around £60 an hour whilst I was getting around half of that for 6 hours away from home. But I chose to do that as I enjoyed refereeing and wanted to progress.
 
It's all the same conversation. If not course and kit fees (which do go up at Level 4 now of course)
How do kit costs increase? You now get supplied so arguably less
then petrol or public transport costs go up.
A lot of supply leagues pay mileage and if not the fee is generally inclusive of mileage.
Along with time costs (time is money). At level 4 a midweek game suddenly means you can't work as long that day, because you need to be at a certain ground 2 hours away by 5/6 PM.
Maximum 1 to 1.5hrs before. Midweek I always said an hour as people have to work etc.
Every professional referee I've heard speak has talked about their jobs working with them to help make their movement from 4 up the ladder easier, that's a privilege that most jobs do not afford you. Most jobs don't give a monkeys about you outside work, they need your body in the office/shop/warehouse/whatever in the shifts and times they want you there.
Ive always just reffed around work, even when doing 13 hour shifts. It just meant that day was closed.

I think the biggest takeaway from all this is that to progress there is a level of sacrifice required. In almost all walks of life, save for a privileged few, getting to the top has not been achieved with great sacrifice and dedication. It's a choice and yes, lucky if yous are in a position to be able to. I am lucky I worn mon-fri but that hasn't always been the case but have never seen it as a barrier.
 
Every professional referee I've heard speak has talked about their jobs working with them to help make their movement from 4 up the ladder easier, that's a privilege that most jobs do not afford you. Most jobs don't give a monkeys about you outside work, they need your body in the office/shop/warehouse/whatever in the shifts and times they want you there.
So what is the fix for that? If you have an inflexible job and can't, for example, leave work before 6pm, or have to work until 2pm on Saturdays, unfortunately senior refereeing isn't going to be for you, they aren't going to push the kick off back so that you can get there in time. I know a lot of referees that changed career to give them a chance of progressing in refereeing. One current EFL referee changed jobs several times as he tried to find one that let him juggle his work with refereeing, and it is probably no surprise that a lot of senior referees are / were working in roles that let them finish early. I know several that worked at a CFA, were postmen, lorry drivers, delivery drivers, etc.

I was always lucky in that both managers I had when I was L4 and L3 were football fans and supportive of me. They only made me work at weekends if they absolutely didn't have anyone else to do it, and let me work flexible hours midweek if I had a game with any kind of travel. I worked in The City so having a car with me wasn't an option, so I'd have to leave early to get the train / tube home and get the car, then negotiate the M25 and the various other clogged London roads to get there on time. But I had to work the hours up, so on game days I'd be in the office for 7am, and back in for 7am the following day even though I often wasn't getting home until after midnight. It was tough, but I come back to the fact that I chose that lifestyle, no one forced me to do it. Also worth adding that the FA were very supportive, I frequently had to come off Saturday games, often as late as Friday, because someone had gone down sick and I needed to work. They never held that against me because I was honest with them.
 
Can I have the 10 minutes of my life back for the time I've spent skim reading this debate?
How about enjoyment representing the primary motivation? Otherwise, get a job to replace the remuneration
Exactly it for me. I'm repeating myself, but no one forces referees to go into senior levels, and find it somewhat bizarre that it tends to be people that have never been in senior levels that bemoan the fees at senior levels (and I'm talking in general here rather than this topic per se).
 
I have just had a look at my sad little excel spreadsheet. I got paid slightly above £553 for refereeing in March. All those games would of been available to me as a level 7. Most months I make something close to that figure (granted I probably did a few extra because of the weather postponements.

This is my hobby. I did BJJ before refereeing and I paid a fortune for something that felt just as hard and required a lot of studying, equipment and commitment. I do often swap matches for a trip to the gym (granted gym take an hour and a half).

I think £553 a month isn't to be sniffed. Especially if you're younger/broke. Grassroots football if you can get on a motorcycle or a good car on mileage is well worth it.
 
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