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Following extensive consultation with schools in the 2019 and the subsequent Competitions Review, ISFA has continued to review its Competitions Policy and will continue to adjust rules as appropriate.

ISFA believes that its Competitions Policy should be in line with ISFA’s overarching aim of “delivering football enjoyment for boys and girls in the 21st century”.  With this in mind ISFA believes that schools’ football is best served through balanced competition.  ISFA’s competitions are aimed at schools where football is played as a recreational, extra-curricular activity by pupils who are involved in a full programme of academic study; this does not preclude standards being extremely high.  However, ISFA’s tournaments are not aimed at schools where pupils attend, and may also be recruited, in order to undertake an elite football programme occupying a significant proportion of allocated school time.

ISFA is also concerned that, whilst facilities, coaching and standards of play in ISFA schools continue to improve rapidly, the standard of organisation and administrative efficiency remains inadequate on too many occasions.  This has a significant damaging effect on the quality of the tournaments and their organisation.  Schools repeatedly failing to comply with the required administration – eg registration of players, arranging fixtures on time, sending in results, match report forms, reports for the website – will be liable to sanction, including administration charges and/or exclusion from future tournaments.

ISFA will be accepting entry applications into its 2020-21 Cup competitions from 1st March.  Schools are asked to be aware of the following changes for next season, most of which were originally announced by ISFA in June 2019.


SEEDING: A system of seeding will be introduced, determined by a ranking list of performances during the 5 previous seasons.  Schools exempt from the First Round will be determined according to this ranking, instead of by Draw as in the past.  The 8 schools with the best ranking will be exempt until the Third Round.

ORGANISATION OF THE TOURNAMENT: The Draw will be made on a regional basis – north and south – in the first two rounds and on a national basis from the Third Round onwards.

QUALIFICATION OF PLAYERS: Only bona-fide pupils receiving full-time education in accordance with The Education (Independent Schools Standards) Regulations 2014 will be eligible to take part in these tournaments.  Students that have enrolled as part of a football academy programme will be ineligible to participate.  Guidance note: This applies to schools that offer a Football Academy, Football Development Programme or Sports Academy with a football section.  Students that undertake 6 or more hours of football training at the school per week (excluding fixtures and strength and conditioning sessions) will not be eligible to participate in these competitions.


TOURNAMENT ETHOS: The aim of this competition is to provide an appropriate level of competition for school pupils attending smaller independent schools.  In the interests of balanced competition, this tournament is NOT aimed at, or intended for, schools operating an elite football programme.

ELIGIBLE SCHOOLS: ISFA reserves the right to refuse entry to any school if, in ISFA’s opinion, that school’s participation is not beneficial to the competition – e.g. if, in the opinion of ISFA, the school’s football programme means that it is operating at a level which is not appropriate for this competition.

RESTRICTIONS ON ACADEMY PLAYERS: No school will be able to name on the match teamsheet more than 2 players who are contracted to an Academy registered under the EPPP (nb limit reduced from 5).


SEEDING: Schools exempt from the First Round will be decided, subject to regional considerations, according to ranking based on performances in the five preceding seasons, instead of by Draw as in the past.

RESTRICTIONS ON ACADEMY PLAYERS: No school will be able to name on the match teamsheet more than 3 players who are contracted to an Academy registered under the EPPP (nb limit reduced from 5).

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