Clubs & Leagues

Charter Standard

FA Programme supported by McDonald's

programme launched in 2001

raising standards

The FA Charter Standard Programme supported by McDonald’s is The FA’s accreditation scheme for grassroots clubs and leagues.

Its goal is to raise standards in grassroots football, support the development of clubs and leagues, recognising and rewarding them for their commitment and achievements.
FA Charter Standard Day in Southend

With this in mind, the FA Charter Standard accreditation is awarded to clubs and leagues rigorously adjudged to be well-run and sustainable - and which prioritise child protection, quality coaching and implementation of the Respect Programme.

There are three levels of FA Charter Standard Awards for clubs:

  • FA Charter Standard Club (for youth and adult clubs: the entry level accreditation)
  • FA Charter Standard Development Club (for clubs clearly enhancing the quality and scope of their football offering)
  • FA Charter Standard Community Club (acknowledging the most advanced level of club development and football provision)

For clubs who have FA Charter Standard accreditation, the challenge is to progress to the next level or to maintain that level. For clubs without FA Charter Standard status, the scheme provides aspirational points on its development journey.

There is only one accreditation level for leagues: FA Charter Standard League.

The FA Charter Standard League is an accreditation that sets an operational benchmark for FA sanctioned leagues; it was launched in 2009 in partnership with McDonald’s.

For more information, please see the 'Frequently Asked Questions' section below or contact us.

Frequently asked questions

Any club can apply for Charter Standard status - even a one-team club -provided they're affiliated to a County FA. The criteria are challenging but attainable for every club. Once awarded, FA Charter Standard clubs are given an annual ‘health check’ to ensure the standards of provision are being maintained.

The base criteria for a league wanting to achieve FA Charter Standard League status are:

  • evidence of how the league plans to retain/grow the number of male, female and disability teams (mini-soccer, small sided and 11v11) as appropriate
  • at least 60% of teams in the league have Charter Standard Club status, working towards 100% within two seasons
  • the league has an equality policy and complaints procedure which adheres to The FA equality policy and complaints procedure template
  • the league has a safeguarding children policy and procedures that adhere to FA requirements (youth leagues only)
  • the Youth League Welfare Officer and Charter Standard League Coordinator sit on the league committee
  • the league has a web-based administration system for results, tables and fixtures. Full-Time is recommended for this purpose, but it isn’t mandatory
  • the league has a development plan which identifies key development objectives and targets linked to the National Game Strategy key goals and enablers

FA Charter Standard League status primarily offers leagues a process to raise standards and a practical means to deliver initiatives in-line with the needs of member clubs. The base criteria ensures clubs within these leagues are consistent in delivering Respect, have a minimum FA Level 1 qualified coach with every team (mini-soccer and youth football only), and have a qualified first aider. However, for most leagues this is just the foundation on which they then build significant positive change and initiatives through the implementation of a league development plan.

The league development plan should be a clear set of actions that will make a practical difference to the operation of the league and the progress of the clubs/teams and players within it. As part of the benefits, each Charter Standard League is eligible for two tickets to the FA Community Shield courtesy of McDonald's. If you are looking to clarify your leagues purpose, raise standards, use the huge influence of your league to affect change at grassroots level, then FA Charter Standard League is for you!

To apply, clubs must complete an application form and return it to us with the requested supporting evidence. Feedback will be obtained from the league/s that your club play/s in to ensure you display the high levels expected of an FA Charter Standard Club.

An FA Charter Standard Working Party will provide feedback on each application, which will include an action plan and a recommendation. If your club meets the criteria, we will forward your application to The FA for awarding. If your club does not meet the criteria, we will provide you with an action plan and advice.

The accreditation lasts for one season, and will be renewed each year as part of the club re-affiliation process. Accreditation awards can be withdrawn if a club has a poor disciplinary record, fails to attend in-service FA Charter Standard events or is unable to continue to meet the criteria.

The criteria include:

  • having an FA-trained Club Welfare Officer
  • an FA Level 1 coach for each youth team (Under 18s and below)
  • Criminal Record Checks (CRC) for all volunteers involved in youth football teams
  • FA Emergency Aid-trained volunteers linked to each team
  • sign-up to, and deliver, The FA’s Respect Programme
  • appropriate administration governance in place - in relation to the club’s size
  • an FA Charter Standard Coordinator recruited for each club

Additional Adult Club criteria:

  • to be formerly constituted
  • require a set of recent committee meeting minutes
  • have at least one team playing in an FA-sanctioned league
  • have a bank account in the club’s name
  • provide a balance sheet and profit and loss account
  • have a club equality policy
  • link to a feeder club for players
  • a good disciplinary record
  • a first aider with every team

Additional Development Club criteria:

  • a minimum of five teams covering at least four different age groups
  • a Football Development Plan for three to five years
  • at least one FA Level 2 coach coaching one of the teams
  • at least one coach who has attended the FA Youth Award Module 1 coaching one of the teams

Additional Community Club criteria:

  • a minimum of ten teams covering mini-soccer, youth and adult football
  • has a minimum of one male and female team
  • at least one coach who has attended the FA Youth Module 2 coaching one of the teams
  • one person who has attended the FA Mentoring Adults course

The benefits are many and varied. Some are tangible and some intangible, but are of no less valuable. Tangible benefits:

  • access to the McDonald’s FA Charter Standard Kit Scheme to receive one free Nike team kit each season from 2014-18 for Under 7s to 16s teams
  • free tickets (upon application) for England youth and women’s internationals
  • invitations to local in-service events
  • access to administrative support sessions
  • support with funding applications

New FA Charter Standard clubs also receive:

  • an official FA plaque and certificate
  • resources to help promote the club
  • £100 worth of official FA Nike match balls (FA Charter Standard Youth and Adult Clubs)
  • £150 worth of official FA Nike match balls (FA Charter Standard Development Clubs)
  • £200 worth of official FA Nike match balls (FA Charter Standard Community Clubs)
  • opportunity to become a Nike Partner Club (FA Charter Standard Development and Community Clubs)

Intangible benefits:

Overall, FA Charter Standard status is a clear demonstration to all parents, sponsors and the public, that a club (or league):

  • is well-organised, safe and offers opportunities for all
  • has FA-qualified coaches as standard
  • adheres to FA Respect Policies and Codes of Conduct
  • prioritises child welfare
  • maintains appropriate levels of discipline
  • has access to the County FA and FA regional workforces
  • can use the coveted FA ‘Three Lions’ FA crest on its marketing and business materials

Leagues interested in attaining the FA Charter Standard status should register their interest by completing the FA Charter Standard League registration form and sending it to us. Once a league has registered, a member of Essex County FA staff will contact the league to confirm how to access the resources and incentives for the programme and to arrange a meeting or invite the league to a workshop with other leagues.

The second step is to audit and assess the league against the FA Charter Standard criteria, then work with us on an action plan to achieving these. Once these have been achieved, we will approve FA Charter Standard status and organise the official plaque and other benefits. We will then work with the league on continuous development and the annual health check.