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Chairman's Notes from Council Meetings

Chairman’s Notes - Council Meeting, 2nd February 2013

The Council meeting at the beginning of February was timed to coincide with the International Dinner and the first friendly match for our new Under 18 international squad. It was a splendid occasion and it was good that all Council members were able to be part of this special event.

In full Council we received and adopted a new 3 year Development Plan. Work started immediately after the AGM 2102 on setting out this plan; all Council and staff were involved in the initial discussion and then a small group worked on the fine detail. A summary of the plan is attached and it should be noted that we have ear-marked £100,000 for each of the next three years to support the implementation of the plan; this money is additional to that needed to fulfil our current commitments which will fall within the normal budgetary processes.

There was further discussion about the administration of discipline in schools’ football and Council took the decision to move further towards the centralisation of all discipline through the ESFA office in Stafford when The FA’s Whole Game System comes into operation. There will be more information about this in due course.

Council received an update on the progress of the FA /ESFA research project into schools’ football. It was pleasing to note that 80% of Counties responded to the survey that was circulated to membership; it was rather more disappointing to hear that only 22% of district administrators had responded. There have also been a good number of responses from teachers and students and we expect to receive a presentation and executive report, outlining the key findings, towards the end of March.

In accordance with General Rule 6 (e), Council have invited the recently-retired Mike Spinks to fill the Council vacancy in the South East region. I am pleased to announce that he has accepted the invitation.

Council received the Chief Executive’s report from John Read. He referred to:
• the international programme for both our U15 girls and U18 boys
• the FA National Game Board meetings that he attends
• on-going discussions with the Premier League about the Elite Player Pathway
• the recent SAFIB meeting held in Finland

Council’s committees met and reported back to full Council. The International Committee continues to debate issues relating to selection of the international team and the Repton Coaching Course; it reported that SAFIB will move to calendar-year age qualifications for the Centenary Shield (as opposed to the current August to September qualification that is used in all ESFA competitions). The Competitions Committee considered the venues for the finals of this season’s competitions and issues related to the ‘open weekends’ for girls’ football; it confirmed two new competitions for next season - U15 Small schools and U13 ‘B’ teams. The Community and PR Committee confirmed details of the coaching course for primary teachers that will take place in August 2013 at Repton School and their plans for upgrading the ESFA website; the Governance Committee reported on progress being made in the appointment of a new Independent Council Member.

Two new committees met for the first time. A Festivals Committee, chaired by John Appleby, will consider all matters to do with festivals and ‘non-competition’ football. It will look to consolidate the work that we already undertake with established festivals and also to expand our portfolio in this area of our activities. Neil Hopwood is chair of a committee which is ‘without portfolio’ - it will deal with specific issues as they arise. Their first task is to investigate the development of Futsal in schools. They will also be considering the decline in the number of girls’ teams competing nationally and the effect on primary schools of the demise of School Sports Partnerships. The need for these extra committees became apparent as the Development Plan evolved.

The Trustees were able to present the accounts for the financial year 2012. These still have to be examined by our professional auditors. They show the excellent budgeting processes that are in place. Outgoings of £996,983 were offset against income of £1,004,350 thus showing a working credit of £7,367. When added to income from investments of £9231, we will be able to transfer £16,598 to reserves. This ensures that the association is financially sound but also allows for significant sums to be allocated for development work as I alluded to above.

If there any matters in these notes which you wish to discuss, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Neil Pont
February 2013.

Counties Meeting and Council weekend, 10th - 11th November 2012

Council met with County and Regional representatives at the Directory of Social Change in Central London.

Donna McIvor (The FA) gave an overview of the newly-established FA Youth Council - a mechanism whereby the voices of young people can be heard.

Next Donna explained how The FA and ESFA are working together on a large-scale piece of research which seeks to gather opinions from school football administrators, teachers, children and young people and County FA staff about a wide range of matters related to school football.

She introduced Jenny Kempster (from KKExcel Sports Consultancy) who will be leading the research project. Members present then worked in groups on tasks set by Jenny - based on the survey that has been sent to all county secretaries.

May I please urge all County secretaries to complete and return this survey? It is the first piece in the jigsaw of information that we will receive.

Next Danny McConnell (The FA) gave a presentation on Full Time - web-based software that can save hours of time in administering competitions. This was very informative and well-received. If you visit all will be revealed!

Peter Harper (Secretary, South Yorkshire CSFA) explained to the meeting work that had been undertaken by his association in trying to organise festival football open to all our member associations and schools. Peter asked members to complete and return a survey he had written in order help him and his colleagues understand why, so far, there had been so little take-up for the festivals offered. This survey is available for all County secretaries to complete - please take a few moments to provide Peter with some feedback.

After lunch, Peter Jordan explained to the meeting how he, David Lailey and Dave Prothero were hoping to develop their enhanced role as Honorary Auditors to the Association. He explained how the auditors had met with me to develop a protocol for their work - and how this was very much a work in progress. The role of the auditors as monitors of ESFA activity will evolve naturally. The starting point is as ‘critical friends’ of Council. An immediate task that the Honorary Auditors will be tackling is setting about finding a suitable candidate that they can nominate to the AGM as an Independent Council Member - someone from outside of the normal school football family who can bring particular skills to Council.

John Read then addressed a variety of issues with particular reference to difficulties that schools and associations are encountering in their relationship with both professional and amateur clubs. He reiterated that The FA’s “Memorandum: Children of School Age and School Games” (printed on p.51 of the current ESFA handbook) makes it clear that agencies outside of school must seek permission to select players for their teams. John told the meeting about on-going negotiations regarding Girls’ Centres of Excellence and the ‘free Saturdays’ which are available for County girls’ teams. He also informed the meeting about a forthcoming meeting that he and I will attend to discuss matters of discipline in schools’ football with The FA. Lastly John dropped into the pool the idea of a ‘service agreement’ between County SFAs and ESFA. Should there be a clearly laid down level of expectation - on both sides - of the relationship that exists between membership and the parent body? This is a matter for further discussion as the season progresses.

The FA Research Project mentioned above will involve consultation throughout the country - talking with district secretaries, teachers and pupils. Council members decided who would take on the responsibility for organising this consultation process in each Region and what this process would entail. The consultations will take place in January 2013.

Council received the normal report from the Chief Executive, John Read, covering:
• staffing matters (including appraisal)
• the FA/ESFA Partnership group
• other matters relating to The FA
• meetings with the Premier and Football Leagues
• child welfare

Council’s standing committees met and continued working on the matters they have in hand. As flesh is added to the bones of the new Development Plan, these committees will be taking on new responsibilities.

During the meeting all were delighted to hear the news of the safe delivery of Darren Alcock’s new daughter, Mary Alice - a sister for Ben.

Neil Pont
November 19th 2012

ESFA Council Meeting, 22nd September 2012


Council was pleased to welcome Mark Shackleton, representing the North Region, to his first Council meeting. Mark teaches in Greater Manchester, where he is also County SFA secretary.

ESFA Development Plan

A good part of the day was taken up with Council members and staff working together on the writing of a new Development Plan. The starting point for this work was the current ESFA Mission Statement. The group identified what we do to ensure that we meet the objectives of that statement. Working in both plenary and group sessions, members generated a host of ideas that will be analysed and brought together by a sub-group in order that a draft plan can be presented at the next Council meeting in November.


During the day Council received presentations from CWO Martin Duffield, National Competitions Manager Darren Alcock and David Ebberson, Marketing and Communications Officer. Martin’s report showed that a very high percentage of Associations (and all counties) are now compliant with The FA’s requirements regarding Child Welfare regulations. Those Associations who do NOT reach compliance by the beginning of October will not be able to run Association representative teams. Council Members will support our CWOs in urgently tackling the few problems of compliance that still exist.

National Competitions Department

The Trustees were able to announce the appointment of Darren Alcock as National Competitions Manager. Darren replaces Mike Spinks who will retire at the end of November. Council is confident that Darren will build upon Mike’s excellent work, supported by our dedicated staff at Stafford. Council was delighted to hear of Mike’s continued return to good health and will mark his retirement in an appropriate fashion.

Chief Executive’s Report

John Read reported on:

  • new sponsorship of the ESFA primary competitions by Danone
  • U18 boys’ international dates: March 1st 2013 v Wales at Lincoln City; March 8th v Northern Ireland at Plymouth Argyle; 11th April v Scotland at St Johnston FC; 25th April v Republic of Ireland at Cork City
  • U15 girls’ international dates: April 1st - 4th 2013 Bob Docherty Trophy in Belfast; 20th April v Scotland at Toryglen, Glasgow
  • a new partnership with “The Coaching Manual”
  • the recent SAFIB AGM where a new constitution was agreed and ESFA Council members Nigel Brown and Dave Woollaston were installed as Vice Chairman and Assistant Secretary, respectively
  • meetings with The FA which have resulted in the setting up of a jointly-managed research project into various aspects of the delivery of schools’ football and the writing of a booklet, specifically for schools, about The FA Youth Review

Other matters

Council received brief reports from the committees that met during the day. The work that the various committees are currently undertaking will feed into the aforementioned Development Plan.

Preparations were made for the meeting of Council with County Secretaries in November 2012.

Council ratified the Minutes of the ESFA AGM 2012.

Neil Pont


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