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Russ Maddox - League Secretary,  23rd November 2009

SEASON 2009/10


The league has recently completed the latest League Trained Referee scheme for the 2009/2010 season, which was originally introduced for the 2005/2006 season.  The scheme has widely been seen as a success in helping to share at least some knowledge of what is required when an LTR has to step in to referee a match.


The feedback from the clubs, and those who have taken the course, and indeed from those who have actually refereed in matches is favourable and very encouraging.  In fact many people who have stepped in to referee in matches have found the experience enjoyable, although of course very challenging.


One question that always arises is “ is the LTR entitled to a match fee?” – And of course they are entitled to the full fee.  Also, it needs to be remembered that once a league trained referee takes the game on, they have the full and complete authority of a fully registered official, including the issuing of cautions and sending offs. This also applies to any substitute referee that handles a game.


If any guidance is needed with discipline procedures the league are only too pleased to advise, help, and take the LTR, or substitute referee, through the procedures of reporting misdemeanours.


Almost every club, other than premier clubs, now has an officially listed LTR – It is not a requirement of premier teams to register an LTR not forgetting that those particular clubs still have to provide a ‘stand in’ referee if for what ever reason an appointed official is not able to attend.


Over the recent seasons I have had a chance to watch some of the LTRs in action, and their efforts are first class, and even on an odd occasion - dare I say - equal to an official referee!


Of course nothing compares to the ideal of having a ‘man in black’ in the middle, and the game’s never quite the same without one, but the LTR scheme comes as close as is possible to the next best thing.


With the above in mind the league would like to place on record our sincere thanks to all those who have taken the course of the last five seasons, and we wish them well in their attempts to keep the fixtures ticking over.


The league will of course do everything it can to ensure maximum cover at all times, and will always view this as our first priority before having to call in the services of the LTRs.



Russ Maddox - League Secretary,  29th August 2008

SEASON 2008/09

Since the 2005/2006 season, the league has undertaken it’s own League Trained Referees scheme, known locally as the LTR scheme. The first of the 2008/2009 season’s courses was held on Saturday 11th August 2008 and was well attended by clubs wishing to help out by supplying a substitute referee for the odd occasions when an official registered referee cannot be appointed.

New clubs entering the league have to supply a candidate for the LTR course as part of their acceptance into the competition, along with any ‘new’ candidates from member clubs whose LTR has moved on. Those who haven’t yet so will need to address this in time for the next course – Any new club not supplying a candidate will not have it’s membership renewed for the following season.

Although records suggest that the County has continued to recruit more referees than ever, these are mainly young referees starting out on their careers, who will hopefully continue for many years to come to help keep the number of officials as they grow into the role, and carry on into adult football.

The league has strived to retain as many referees as possible by various rewards and benefits for referees, and this will continue, but to bridge the gap we introduced the LTR scheme as a back up for any shortfalls.

As the rules dictate that all fixtures must be played in any case, with clubs having to supply a substitute referee, so the league feels that by ‘training’ up these substitute officials, that the information gleaned would prove to be extremely useful for the stand in officials.

The LTR scheme has proved to be extremely popular with clubs, who fully appreciated that something had to be done to overcome the shortage of referees, although the Football Association hope to be able to recruit 8000 new referees by 2012 to try and ease the problem nationwide.

This season sees the Football Association introduce the ‘Respect’ programme throughout football, and the league is a keen supported of the initiative, hoping that by encouraging referees to stay in football the need for LTRs will become less of an option as time moves on.

In the meantime the league and clubs look forward to working together by helping and supporting each LTR, as and when they’re used, and fully respects the efforts of all concerned to help try and ensure that at least we have a ‘substitute’ official who at least has a grasp of what is required.  

Of course the league is always on the look out for candidates who wish to undertake the full official Football Association’s career path (Courses regularly organised by the Bedfordshire Football Association) and are only too keen to assist wherever possible in urging those people to take up the whistle.

The LTR scheme was, is, and never will be seen as a replacement of the official career course for referees, and any person who wishes to take the full F.A. course only needs to contract the league for appropriate details.

In closing the league wishes every referee, both official, and stand in, a successful and happy association with the competition hoping that they enjoy the matches that they undertake.

SEASON 2007/08

The League held two further courses for the training of club LTR's on Saturday 8th September 2007 and 10th November 2007.

The training was informal, albeit it has a serious agenda, and concentrated on the various aspects linked to the general overall enjoyment of refereeing, and dealt with the situation of officiating in a game on the day rather than a serious study of football laws - albeit the rules obviously formed part of the morning.

After these two latest course's it means that all Divisions (except the Premier) has an 'official' league trained referee - It is not intended to extend the scheme to the Premier Division.

It is worth remembering that the League makes every endeavour to cover all matches, but on some occasions if the League is unable to appoint a qualified referee, then it is on these occasions when the club LTR will be required to stand in as a 'substitute' referee.

The rules of the League require that a substitute referee MUST stand in if there is no official referee available on match days in any case, so the League takes the view that at least some basic training will be useful to stand in as the official.

Remember all games MUST STILL be played if no referee is available.

In these circumstances the LTR will be covered by the appropriate club's player insurance.

The LTR scheme is, never has been, and never will be, a scheme to replace the officially trained career referee which is open to any candidate who may wish to take up the career referee's course (Beds FA) - In fact it is hoped that once an LTR referee's a match, and takes a liking to doing a game, may well consider taking up the whistle to become a career referee.

The LTR course instructors were Clive Milton (Referees' Secretary), Hugh Elliott (Fixture Secretary), and were assisted by Alf Bone (Administration Support Officer).

SEASON 2006/07

Throughout the 2006/2007 season the League continued to extend its’ plan that each team, other than the premier division, should have their own LTR.

Faced with the continual situation regarding the shortage of career referees the League was still faced with solving the shortfall. With the support of its member clubs the competition was able to ensure that at least the clubs had a person available on match days with some knowledge, to stand in if the League were unable to appoint an official referee.

With the rules allowing for a “substitute” referee being allowed to take the middle, it proved that by having an LTR at least the stand official had undertaken some basic training to assist him/her on the day. If the club’s LTR was used they were covered by the club’s insurance.

Many referees, in fact many more than in previous seasons, had taken the courses organised by the Bedfordshire Football Association, but in the main they were very young referees who undertook youth matches, and very few adults had actually sat the courses.

Most of those young referees were often lost to refereeing once they became older, still leaving reduced coverage throughout the adult game.

With the 2006/07 continued introduction of the League’s LTR scheme, at least people were introduced to refereeing, and it was hoped that once undertaking a competitive match that some “substitutes” may take up the whistle by enlisting for the “career path” to become officially trained officials.

In fact the League scheme was extended to another Sunday League Competition (North Home Counties, Luton) and our own League officials actually attending and carrying out the training on behalf of that competition. It is understood that the Luton League is also considering extending the use of “home trained referees”.

The scheme was the idea of League Secretary Russ Maddox, who saw an opportunity to try and encourage club officials etc not only to take up the whistle to ensure match cover, but also in the hope that it may prompt those stand in officials in becoming a fully qualified referee.

Mr Maddox explained “The scheme is not, and never was, seen as an alternative to the proper career course, it was really an attempt to cover games with people having at least some basic understanding of the laws of the game, and in the hope that they may take a liking to refereeing and then join the full FA training course”.

Mr Maddox continued “With the shortage of referees still being one of the games biggest problems something just had to be done to ensure that local people could still enjoy football, and the LTR scheme was a modest attempt at filling the shortfall.
“With various FA surveys suggesting that the referee shortage was causing Leagues to actually reduce in size, and with players not wanting to play without referees, it was difficult to see what else could be done to get more referees”

“My League, Mr Maddox explained, had been at the forefront of many initiatives, poster campaigns, writing to over 500 retired players. Advertising at schools, police stations, and fire stations were a few ideas undertaken along with referee of the years awards, free invites to presentation evenings, and special functions for referees only”.

“Over the years adverts had been placed in shop windows, factory canteens, college restaurants, post offices, and no stone was left unturned to try and promote new recruits to take up the whistle, but by far the only real response was for club’s to do it for themselves”.

The League applauded the continued efforts made by the Bedfordshire Football Association whose training was second to none throughout the Country, but although training many younger referees the shortage of adult candidates prevails.

The LTR scheme will be extended once again across the lower five division for the 2007/08 season, whilst hoping that there may be a break through with an increase in the number of adult recruits to the career trained referee – But don’t hold you breath!

SEASON 2005/06

The League has recently completed its first course for League Trained Referees (LTR). The course was held over a two week period and candidates attended for two evenings.

The course was very informal, and although held in a classroom environment the meetings were very relaxed and based on instruction, enjoyment and and co-operation rather than any failure of tests etc. 

The scheme has been undertaken to try and avoid matches having to use "stand in" referees without having at least some form of basic training, and cover Sunday League games only.

The courses were extremely well attended by representatives from the 4th and 5th Divisions, and the scheme may well be extended further up the Divisions.
The LTR scheme has support both from the Football Association and the Bedfordshire Football Association and to date 19 candidates successfully qualified as LTRs. 

League Secretary Russ Maddox stated ”The scheme was undertaken bearing in mind the annual reduction of referee coverage. If the present trend continues in the future the cover by referees will become even worse, and the League had to come up with a radical solution. 

The League were extremely pleased with the response and understanding from the clubs, and were even surprised at the numbers wanting to join the scheme.

Of course the scheme can never replace, and is certainly not intended to replace, the County Referee training (11 weeks) that of course is aimed at the career referee, rather than a club official doing his or her bit to help with the referee cover"

The General Secretary placed on record a sincere thank you to all the candidates and a special thank you to Hugh Elliott and Clive Milton who acted as instructors and Alf Bone who handled the logistics for the course. 

It is intended to run more courses in the near future. If any person, from any club, would like to become a Sunday League Referee don't hesitate to contact the league.