THE Berks & Bucks FA has come under fire from youth football clubs in Milton Keynes for a significant price hike in the cost of its Basic Referees Course.
Last year the cost for someone under the age of 18 to take the beginners’ course was £45, but this year the price will be £135 – a rise of 200 per cent.
The Football Association puts the increase down to the ‘professionalisation’ of the course, with volunteers replaced by professional coaches to teach beginners the basics of refereeing. The discount price for children under the age of 18 has been dropped, meaning they will now pay the same as an adult to become an FA Qualified and Registered Referee.
Local county FAs are responsible for the pricing of courses, but the guidelines set out by the national governing body in England recommends a price of between £85 and £135. The Berks & Bucks FA has set its price at the maximum allowed.
The county FA has also been criticised for an increased cost of CRB checks, and for holding the course induction session in an ‘expensive’ function room at stadium:mk earlier this month.
One parent, whose 14-year-old son is sitting the course, has accused the FA of taking advantage of the county’s love of football by charging so much.
“It’s incredible that they have gone and put the prices up so much at a time when they are supposed to be encouraging as many young people as possible to study as referees,” he said.
“But it’s putting people off. Last year the course was oversubscribed, but from what I’m hearing there are now plenty of places available this year.”
Berks & Bucks referees development officer, Corin Readett, refused to speak to the Citizen about the matter, and a vague statement from the national FA simply read: “The Football Association’s National Referee Development Programme is a scheme designed for referees involved in 11v11 football. It is an initiative which is committed to training, retaining and developing enthusiastic, committed referees in a professional manner.”