Playing Rules

Please read these carefully.


A match is played by two teams each consisting of not more than six players, one of whom is the goalkeeper. Teams can play with a minimum of four players. All players must be over 16 years of age and team managers must be over 18 years of age.


The maximum number of substitutes permitted is three.

The number of substitutions made during a match is unlimited. A player who has been replaced may return to the pitch as a substitute for another player. Players are allowed to change places with the goalkeeper.

Substitutions should take place when there is a break in play.


A match should not be considered valid if more than three players reduce the playing strength of either team.


A player must not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous to himself or another player. Jewellery is not allowed to be worn.

Basic Equipment

The basic compulsory equipment of a player is:

  • A jersey or shirt of identical colours with shorts or tracksuit trousers & socks.
  • Footwear – Astro trainers, trainers, (Moulded boots are allowed on some pitches).
  • Shinguards must be worn & covered entirely by the socks.


Each match is controlled by a Referee who has the full authority to enforce the Laws of the Game in connection with the match to which he has been appointed, from the moment he enters the locality where the pitch is situated until he leaves.

Powers and Duties – The Referee:

• Enforces the Laws of the Game.
• Keeps a record of the match and provides the appropriate authorities with a match report regarding action taken against players and team officials.
• Acts as timekeeper. • Stops, suspends or terminates the match for any infringement of the laws.
• Takes disciplinary action against players guilty of offences.
• Takes action against team officials who fail to conduct. themselves in a responsible manner and may, at his discretion, expel them from pitch.
• Ensures that no unauthorised persons enter the pitch.
• Stops the match if, in his opinion, a player is seriously injured.
• Make use of timed suspensions.

Decisions of the Referee

The decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play are final.


The duration of the games will be between 28 minutes, 14 each way.

Competition rules may allow for a game to be played in its entirety without a half time interval or requirement to change ends – this may well be enforced.


The choice of ends is decided by the toss of a coin – the losing team has the kick-off.


A kick-off is a way of starting or restarting play at the start of the match, after a goal has been scored & at the start of the second half of the match

A goal may be scored directly from the kick-off & a corner kick.


Ball is out of play when it has wholly crossed the goal line or touchline, or when play has been stopped by the referee.

Ball is in play at all other times including rebounds from a goal post or crossbar.


Goal Scored

A goal is scored when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line, unless it has been thrown by a player of the attacking side, the goalkeeper included.


The team scoring the greater number of goals during a match is the winner.


There is no overhead height rule and no offside.


All free kicks are direct and are awarded to the opposing team for all offences as per the rules of Association Football including the following:

  • Slide tackles – as these are not allowed in small-sided football.
  • Direct pass back to the goalkeeper after receiving the ball from him.

A goal may be scored from a direct free kick.


All opponents must be at least 5 yards from the ball until it is in play and be taken from the place where the infringement occurred.


A penalty kick is awarded if a defender enters the penalty area or if the goalkeeper comes out of the penalty area.

A goal may be scored directly from a penalty kick.

If an attacking player enters the area, the referee shall award the ball to the goalkeeper, with play commencing with the ball being thrown out.


A kick in is a method of restarting play when the ball has gone out of play, apart from when it is a goalkeepers ball, & he must throw out over arm or underarm. A direct backpass to the goalkeeper is not permitted from a kick in. A free kick 5 yards outside the area shall be awarded against the offending team.
All opponents must be at least 5 yards from the ball until it is in play.

A goal cannot be scored directly from a kick in or goalkeeper’s ball.


The goalkeeper can only return the ball into play by throwing the ball underarm or overarm. However, the goalkeeper can save or stop the ball with his feet, but cannot kick the ball out.

A free kick 5 yards outside the area will be awarded if he kicks the ball out.


A team is allowed no more than two guest players per match and all guest players must be agreed before kick-off with the opposing captain and the referee.

The referee reserves the right to refuse guest players if, in his opinion, the outcome of the match would be considerably altered.

Teams may not use guest players as substitutes.

If a team uses a guest player, that team is still liable to pay their full match fee.

We would request that all teams use this rule in the true spirit of the game.


Referees will use temporary timed suspensions (Sin Bin Rule) in all cases regarded as cautionable offences.

The options for a match official imposing disciplinary sanctions are therefore:

• Player shown a blue card is temporarily suspended from play
• Player issued with a second blue card is permanently excluded from play
• Player issued with a red card is permanently excluded from play

The period of timed suspension should be on the following tariff:

Length of Playing Period of up to 28 minutes – 3 minutes suspension

Temporary Timed Suspensions (Sin Bin Rule) – Procedures

A player temporarily suspended from play will be shown a blue card by the match official and informed as to the length of time he/she will be suspended from play

The player is obliged to leave the pitch and remain in a designated ‘sin bin’ area for the required suspension area

A player will be informed as to the end of a period of suspension by the referee

Temporary Timed Suspensions (Blue Cards):

A player is shown the blue card and temporarily excluded from play if he:

• Is guilty of unsporting behaviour, showing dissent by word or action
• Persistently infringes the Laws of the Game
• Delays the restart of play or fails to respect the required distance
• Enters, re-enters or leaves the pitch without the referee’s permission

Sending-Off Offences (Red Cards):

A player is sent off and shown the red card if he:

• Is guilty of serious foul play, violent conduct or spits at another person
• Denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball or to an opponent by moving towards the player’s goal by an offence punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick
• Using offensive, insulting or abusive language
• Receives a second blue card in the same match