Football Referee taking notes

Match Abandonments

Walking away from a game could lead to significant sanctions, so it’s important to understand the rules

Last season alone Hertfordshire FA dealt with 32 matches abandoned due to the conduct of one or both teams, or because a club official made the decision to abandon the match

These kinds of incidents can leave clubs facing serious penalties, even if they might feel the situation was not of their own making, so it is important for everyone involved to understand how the rules around match abandonments work.

Any decision to abandon a match should be taken solely by the Match Referee, after consultation with both team managers, where this is appropriate.

If in the opinion of the Match Referee the matter cannot be dealt with satisfactorily and the welfare of any participants remains at risk, in terms of the threat of continued abuse or violence, they should consider abandoning the match.

If anyone else (for example a coach or club official) takes this decision for whatever reasons, then a charge can be brought against them by the relevant County FA.

While their reasons for choosing to abandon a match may be considered in mitigation (and depending on the circumstance of the incident this might lead the disciplinary commission to apply a lesser sanction), they won’t prevent a charge being issued.

Whilst each case will be dealt with on its own merits, the sanction guidelines for the relevant FA Rules include a fine of up to £250 (see further details by downloading the document below).

You should also be aware that in cases where a match has been abandoned due to the conduct of one or both teams, League rules mean the fixture will not be replayed and depending on the circumstances neither side may be awarded the points.

As such, where any party feels a situation is developing where it may be necessary to abandon a match due to the conduct of participants, it is vital that all concerned work with the match official to resolve the situation, rather than making a decision in isolation.

Know The Rules - Match Abandonments 

For incidents involving discriminatory abuse at grassroots matches, please also refer to this guidance issued by the FA in December 2019.