New BAFA Regulations for 2015
14th March 2015
The BAFA Board has announced a new set of "Regulations" that take effect from 1st April.
The Regulations incorporate the BAFA Disciplinary Code and the existing "Rules on Member Organisations", both of which last underwent major revision in 2008. To those have been added regulations on registration and safeguarding, a procedure for resolving disputes against the decisions of competition authorities (e.g. leagues), and revised appeal procedures.
Some of the most significant changes are:
General and legal
- Confirmation that the BAFA Regulations are governed by the 1996 Arbitration Act and amount to a binding arbitration agreement on participants.
- Club discipline is formally recognised for the first time. Clubs must inform BAFA if they take action against a member that imposes a fine of more than £25 and/or a suspension of more than one game, is the second or subsequent offence within 12 months, or the member wishes to appeal against the action.
- BAFA may instigate proceedings independently of a club or in co-operation with a club.
- Confirmation that BAFA proceedings may progress in parallel with criminal and/or civil court action.
Registration and safeguarding
- Clarification that the following classes of person need to be registered with BAFA:
- officers of a club/organisation
- sideline staff
- BAFA can prohibit someone from being a BAFA director or employee, an officer of a club, a coach or an official, if they are not a "fit and proper person". The test will look at criminal records, safeguarding reasons and financial management history. The test will not apply automatically (except to the directors of BAFA, BAFRA and BAFCA) but someone can be required to complete it if there is information that suggests they might fail it.
- Comprehensive barring regulations have been introduced, similar to those adopted by the Rugby Football Union. They will prohibit or restrict involvement by people who do not successfully complete a DBS process.
Code of conduct
- Failing to report a safeguarding concern is a breach of the code.
- BAFA have adopted the provisions of the WADA World Anti-Doping Code.
- Emphasis that social media is one of the places where inappropriate and unauthorised public statements can be made.
- Officers of a club can be held responsible for breaches of the code made by the club, and vice-versa.
- Clubs can be held responsible for the actions of their supporters, where reasonably preventable.
- Clubs are held responsible for anyone unregistered who plays/coaches/etc.
- Clarification that there is only one opportunity to appeal against a fixed penalty.
- Offenders may be required to pay compensation to make restitution for their actions.
- There is a "parole" mechanism for people who wish to return from a long-term suspension before it has finished. At least half the suspension must be served before a parole application can be considered.
Regulations on organisations
- BAFA may require a club to provide it with various information, including:
- governance arrangements, list of officers/directors, etc.
- child protection, equality policy, etc.
- financial information and accounts
- Clubs must have an independent examination or audit of their accounts at least once a year.
- Clubs must get formal written permission to play games on dates that clash with "BAFA designated events" (e.g. the BAFRA Convention).
- Confirmation of the arrangements for clubs to play internationally or to register players covered by the IFAF International Transfer Card.
- Various requirements on clubs to notify BAFA of large sponsorship agreements and to seek prior approval for anything that requires NGB approval or may have an effect on the sport as a whole.
- A procedure for formally resolving disputes between BAFA organisations exists, if informal means don't work.
Competition complaints and appeals
- A procedure now exists for clubs to resolve disputes between them and their competition (e.g. league).
Procedures for regulatory cases and appeals
- Reconstituted the "disciplinary panel" as a "regulatory panel" - the group of people who are called upon to hear cases brought under the various parts of the Regulations.
- Confirmation that correspondence is the normal way of conducting regulatory business.
- Notice or other communication sent by BAFA will be regarded as being given on the day it is sent or the following day, if it is sent by first class post, fax or email to the recipient's last-known address.
- Confirmation that BAFA may collect evidence during an investigation and retain it for up to 7 years (or 2 years beyond the end of a suspension, whichever is longer) for the purpose of informing decisions on repeat offences.
- The deadline for appeals against fixed penalty offences (e.g. disqualification from a game) has been extended from 2 days to 3 (now 9pm on Wednesday for a Sunday game).
- The deadline for some other appeals has been reduced from 28 to 14 days following notification.