The 7 Day Approach rule and how non league football transfers work

Darrell Freeland explains the in's and out's of non league football in our #askduds feature
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FootballinBracknell co-editor Darrell Freeland. Photo: Connor Sharod-Southam.
FootballinBracknell co-editor Darrell Freeland. Photo: Connor Sharod-Southam.

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Being an experienced club secretary, one thing I was asked regularly was about the FA 7 Day Approach Rule – specifically non league transfers – and how it all works.

First things first it’s only for non-contract players. If you have a player on contract and someone else wants to sign the player, they would need to negotiate with the club to buy the player, an example being Maidenhead United buying Sam Barratt from Bracknell Town.

Secondly, it only relates to same day football. It must be done by Saturday clubs to all Saturday clubs, Sunday clubs to all Sunday clubs, and Midweek clubs to all Midweek clubs.

Sam Barratt in Bracknell Town colours. Photo: Connor Sharod-Southam.
Sam Barratt in Bracknell Town colours. Photo: Connor Sharod-Southam.

It does not have to be done by Saturday clubs to Sunday clubs but it is of course common courtesy to liaise with the other club.

It’s also dealt with by club secretaries. If a manager wants to sign a player then he gets his own club secretary to write to the secretary of the players current club giving seven days’ formal written notice of their intention to speak to the player.

Related: An explanation of ‘Dual Registrations’ in non league football

You must send by recorded delivery or special post or a written acknowledgment otherwise obtained from the secretary or chairman of the player’s current club (fax or e-mails may be used provided a receipt of acknowledgement is also obtained).

‘After submitting an approach to a club, you may not submit another approach for a second player until 28 days later – you are only allowed one approach every 28 days.’

Once this has been done, the player can be spoken to by your club on the eighth day and the player must be registered on or before the 21st day if they decide to join your club.

If the player declines your offer to leave their current team and join your team then you cannot approach them again in the same season (the FA season is from 1st July to 31st May).

You may only approach one player at a club at any one time.

James Suarez. Bracknel Town FC vs Frilsham & Yattendon. Photo: Neil Graham.
James Suarez recently made the move from Bracknell Town to Binfield. Photo: Neil Graham.

After submitting an approach to a club, you may not submit another approach for a second player until 28 days later – you are only allowed one approach every 28 days.

After you submit the Seven Day Approach to a club, that club may waive the seven day period and allow you to sign the player immediately, this will usually happen if the manager is happy for the player to leave.

The Seven Day Approach Rule allows the current club time to notify the player of the approach and persuade them to stay at the club.

Ultimately, the players have the power and it’s their decision whether to remain with their current club or move to another club.

Any club wishing to make a protest of illegal approach can do so by contacting their local County FA in writing within 14 days of the alleged illegal approach, together with any evidence.

#AskDuds is our new occasional feature leaning on FiB co-editor Darrell Freeland’s encyclopaedic knowledge of the non-league game and experience as a football club secretary. If you have a question you’d like to ask please email [email protected]

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