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The Football Association

The Football Association, also known as simply The FA, is a governing body of association football in England and the Crown Dependency of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. It was formed in 1863, and is the oldest national football association. Based at Wembley Stadium, London, it is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the game of football in England, both professional and amateur.

The FA sanctions all competitive football matches in England, either directly (at a National Level), or indirectly (at a local level through County Football Associations). It runs numerous competitions, the most famous of which is the annual FA Cup. It is also responsible for appointing the management of the English national football team, England women's national football team and England national under-17 football team national football teams.

The FA is a member of both UEFA and FIFA and holds a permanent seat on the International Football Association Board (IFAB) which is responsible for the laws of the game. As the first ever football association, it uniquely does not use the national name (i.e. English) in its title (compared to the Scottish Football Association, for example). It is based at Wembley Stadium, London, United Kingdom having moved from offices at Soho Square in 2009.

All of England's professional football teams are members of the Football Association. The FA is responsible for the appointment of the management of the England England national football team and England women's national football team national teams and the organization of the FA Cup. Although it does not run the day-to-day operations of the country's top league, the Premier League, it has veto power over the appointment of the League Chairman and Chief Executive and over any changes to league rules. The Football League, England's second tier league, consisting of Football League Championship, Football League One and Football League Two, is self-governing.

Both the FA and the Football League have the power to restrict transfers and deduct points from clubs, most commonly for clubs going into administration or experiencing financial irregularities.

The game is controlled at the local level, by 43 County Football Associations affiliated to The Football Association but with responsibilities for organising and running football activities in their area. The Jersey Football Association, Guernsey Football Association, and Isle of Man Football Association Football Associations are organised as County Football Associations below the FA. A hierarchy of leagues operates throughout the game, each taking responsibility for the administration of their own activities, such as membership, fixtures and registrations.

The FA owns and runs both Wembley Stadium and the St George's Park National Football Centre (The National Football Centre is under construction with a target for completion set for 2010).


For centuries before the first meeting of the Football Association in the Freemasons' Tavern on Long Acre, London on 26 October 1863, there were no universally accepted rules for playing football. In each Public school (UK) the game was formalised according to local conditions; but when the schoolboys reached university, chaos ensued when the players used different rules, so members of Cambridge University devised and published a set of Cambridge Rules in 1848 which was widely adopted. Another set of rules, the Sheffield Rules, was used by a number of clubs in the North of England from the 1850s.

13 London football clubs met in 1862 to agree common rules. The founding clubs present at the first meeting were Barnes Club, Bucks F.C. (High Wycombe) Civil Service F.C., Crusaders F.C. (London), Forest of Leytonstone (later to become Wanderers F.C.) , N.N. Club (Kilburn, London), the original Crystal Palace F.C. (1861), Blackheath Rugby Club, Kensington School F.C., Perceval House, Surbiton F.C. and Blackheath Proprietary School; Charterhouse School sent their captain, B.F. Hartshorne, but declined the offer to join. Many of these clubs are now defunct or play rugby union.

Central to the creation of the Football Association and modern football (soccer) was Ebenezer Cobb Morley. He was a founding member of the Football Association in 1862. In 1863, as captain of the Mortlake-based club, he wrote to Bell's Life newspaper proposing a governing body for the sport that led to the first meeting at the Freemason's Tavern that created the FA. He was the FA's first secretary (1863-66) and its second president (1867-74) and drafted the Laws of the Game (association football) generally called the "London Rules" at his home in Barnes, London. As a player, he played in the first ever match in 1863.

The first version of the rules for the modern game was drawn up over a series of six meetings held in the Freemasons' Tavern from October till December. At the final meeting, Francis Maule Campbell, the first FA treasurer and the Blackheath representative, withdrew his club from the FA over the removal of two draft rules at the previous meeting, the first which allowed for the running with the ball in hand and the second, obstructing such a run by hacking (kicking an opponent in the shins), tripping and holding. Other History of rugby union and did not join the FA but instead in 1871 formed the Rugby Football Union. The term "soccer" dates back to this split to refer to football played under the "association" rules.

An inaugural game using the new FA rules was initially scheduled for Battersea Park on 2 January 1864, but enthusiastic members of the FA couldn't wait for the new year and an experimental game was played at Mortlake on 19 December 1863 between Morley's Barnes team and their neighbours Richmond F.C. (who were not members of the FA), ending in a goalless draw. The Richmond side were obviously unimpressed by the new rules in practice because they subsequently helped form the RFU in 1871. The Battersea Park game was postponed for a week, and the first exhibition game using FA rules was played there on Saturday 9 January 1864. The members of the opposing teams for this game were chosen by the President of the FA (A. Pember) and the Secretary (E. C. Morley) and included many well-known footballers of the day.

After the first match according to the new FA rules a toast was given "Success to football, irrespective of class or creed".

C. W. Alcock of the Wanderers was elected to the committee of the FA in 1866, becoming its first full-time secretary and treasurer in 1870. He masterminded the creation of the FA Cup—the longest-running association football competition in the world—in 1871. Fifteen participating clubs subscribed to purchase a trophy. The first Cup Final was held at The Oval on 16 March 1872, fought between the Wanderers and the Royal Engineers, watched by 2,000 spectators.

This competition was initially contested by mostly amateur teams but by the end of the 19th century it was dominated by professional teams that were mostly members of the Football League that had been founded in 1888 and expanded during the 1890s.

After many years of wrangling between the London Association and the Sheffield Football Association, the FA Cup brought the acceptance that one undisputed set of laws was required. The two associations had played 16 inter-association matches under differing rules; the Sheffield Rules, the London Rules and Mixed Rules. In April 1877, those laws were set with a number of Sheffield Rules being incorporated.

In 1992, the Football Association took control of the newly-created Premier League which consisted of 22 clubs who had broken away from the Football League First Division of the Football League. The Premier League reduced to 20 clubs in 1995 and is one of the richest football leagues in the world.


The FA's main commercial asset is its ownership of the rights to England national football team and the FA Cup. Turnover for the year ending 31 December 2008 was £261.8 million. on which it made an operating profit of £16.6 million and loss before tax of £15.3 million. The loss was attributable to £39.6 million of interest payable and similar charges, principally relating to the cost of constructing the new Wembley Stadium, opened in 2006, which the FA owns via its subsidiary Wembley National Stadium Limited. For the 4 seasons from 2008 to 2012, the FA has secured £425 million from ITV and Setanta for England and FA Cup games domestic television rights, a 42% increase over the previous contract, and £145 million for overseas television rights, up 272% on the £39 million received for the previous four-year period. However during 2008-09 Setanta UK went into administration, which weakened the FA's cashflow position.

The FA's income does not include the turnover of English football clubs, which are independent businesses. As well as running its own operations the FA chooses five charities each year to which it gives considerable financial support.


The FA also runs several competitions:
- FA Cup
- FA Trophy
- FA Vase
- FA Women's Cup
- Premier League Cup
- FA Youth Cup
- FA Sunday Cup
- FA County Youth Cup
- FA Community Shield
- FA Inter-League Cup
- FA Umbro Fives
- FA Futsal Cup


The FA has a figurehead President, since 1939 always a member of the British Royal Family. The Chairman of the FA has overall responsibility for policy. Traditionally this person rose through the ranks of the FA's committee structure (e.g. by holding posts such the chairmanship of a county football association). In 2008 the politician David Triesman, Baron Triesman was appointed as the FA's first "independent chairman", that is the first from outside the football hierarchy. The day to day head of the FA was known as the Secretary until 1989, when the job title was changed to Chief Executive.

Board of directors

- Chairman: David Bernstein
- Vice-Chairman: Barry Bright (Kent County Football Association)
- General Secretary: Alex Horne
- Other Members:
- - Dave Henson
- - Michael Game (Essex County Football Association)
- - Phil Gartside (Bolton Wanderers F.C. Chairman)
- - David Gill (executive) (Manchester United F.C. Chief Executive)
- - Roger Burden (Gloucestershire County Football Association)
- - Dave Richards (Premier League Chairman)
- - John Ward (Hampshire Football Association)
- - David Sheepshanks (Ipswich Town F.C. Non-Executive Director) -
- - Neil Doncaster (Scottish Football League Chief Executive) -

† = National Game Representative
‡ = Premier League Representative
- = Football League Representative

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