For many years the youth set-up in England has come under intense scrutiny following a number of unimpressive performances from the national team at major tournaments. There has been a call to follow the blueprint of both Spain and Germany, who have enjoyed great success in both the World Cup and European Championships over the past ten years.
And with pressure being put on the FA to produce the next generation of stars capable to compete at the highest level, they have come up with a new set of rules designed to make the game better for kids, and for them to stay in football as they get older.
The new rules have brought about much debate over whether they will make English football too "soft", and whether they will help youngsters in the long term.
With the new rules being trailed in Manchester's Junior Respect League, they are split under four headings: Calmer and Safer; Faster Development; More Skilful and More Competitive. But how much change will the new rules bring? We rate all 12 changes based on their effectiveness...
1. Silent Sidelines Rule: 7/10
Okay, so we're off to a good start.
One major issue with youth football in England is the inevitability that adults on the sidelines get too involved in the game and become aggressive in their behaviour toward the match. This new rule will help kids enjoy the game a lot more, with less pressure coming from the sidelines.
2. Slide Tackle Rule: 0/10
And the good start has grind to a halt.
Ask yer da about this rule and watch his head explode. How can you possibly rule out slide tackles, possibly the greatest art of defending? Imagine telling a young Paolo Maldini that he couldn't slide tackle..! "On medical advice," the last ditch challenge has been barred, but what good would this do to youngsters in the long-term? None, and yer da would easily be breaking rule one if his son/daughter didn't lunge in to save a goalscoring chance for sure.
3. Blue Card Rule: 2/10
Just let the kids enjoy playing football for God's sake!! This rule states that a blue card is issued for any caution-able offence and the player is sent to the sin-bin for two minutes. And yes, you can see the logic behind it, getting youngsters used to cards when they enter adult football, but surely the no slide tackling rule contradicts this?
We're only three rules in and yer da is already fuming.
4. Respect Marks Rule: 4/10
Okay, so this one links all these patronising rules together and gives players, coaches and spectators marks after each game. Just what yer da needs on the sidelines, to be marked for his behaviour at the footie - honestly, the game's gone.
Admittedly, this one picks up four points because it gives the referee some protection, which is something that does need improving in football as a whole. But come, imagine going to watch your child's game and being marked. No chance.
5. Retreat Line Rule: 2/10
We're still spiralling downwards here.
The retreat line rule states that when the goalkeeper has possession, the opposition must retreat to the half-way line and the 'keeper must pass to a player in his own half. Although this probably Pep Guardiola's dream, it's hardly going to help youngsters going forward.
What happens when they progress through the ranks and play a European game? "Oi lads, why's the 'keeper booting it long? I thought they only did that in the days where Man City were in the second division?"
This needs scrapping.
6. Pass Back Rule: 8/10
Finally, a bit of sense.
No matter what age, passing back to the goalkeeper should never result in said goalkeeper picking the ball up. It just shouldn't be allowed, especially if your name is Kiko Casilla. Getting this into the mind of youngsters will make the game flow better and make them better players going forward.
Well done FA, you've earned one gold star for this rule.
7. No Instructions Rule: 4/10
"Coaches may ask questions that prompt players to think for themselves but must not shout instructions during matches."
Now, there are many issues with this. Coaches may 'ask' questions, but they must not 'shout'. So, if a player is on the other side of the field, and the coach needs to tell him something urgently, shall he ask politely if he could track back to save his side from conceding. Everyone's being so polite now, this is all so nice, we're all good friends now thank you FA.
8. Equal Playing Time Rule: 9/10
Another gold star?
This rule is arguably the one that makes the most sense. There's nothing worse than being stuck on the bench as a youngster when all you want to do is have fun and play football with your mates. With each player receiving at least 50% playing time, it makes the game fairer for each child and may lead to more kids staying the game down the line.
9. All Positions Rule: 6/10
This may have been deserving of another gold star, but yer da wants his child to be a striker and nothing will stop that happening - not even your stupid rules, FA!
At such a young age, it's hard to determine where each child will end up playing, so giving them a run-around in each position gives them a chance to find what's best for them. However, if someone is so clearly meant to be a centre-forward, for example, would this rule stop their developement in the long-run? Possibly.
10. Mixed Teams Rule: 5/10
Scoring a 5/10, this rule has both it's good and bad sides. All players will experience some form of success as the teams will have a mix of stronger and weaker players, but overall, the club's will arguably have less chance of achieving their goals than if they fielded a stronger team.
Yes, this is about giving each child a chance and letting them enjoy the game in their youth, but a competitive edge also needs to be taught, and this may hold some players back.
11. Power Play Rule: 2/10
Arguably one of the most ridiculous rules in history. All of history. Ever.
The FA have brought this rule in to stop teams getting battered and save them from thinking of football in a negative sense. Basically, if a team goes up by four goals, the other team may field another player until they reduce the deficit to three. I know, I actually can't write anymore on this - I'm done.
12. Equal Numbers Rule: 8/10
Let's end on a positive note, shall we?
This rule basically states that if a team turn up a man down, the other team must lend them a player or reduce their own number of players. This to me is just common sense, it doesn't need to be wrapped up in a big package of new rules and thrown upon us suddenly.
Starting the game a man down in the adult game is hard, but in a kids game it would just be disheartening. Yer da would like this rule, unless his kid's side had more players than the other team, then he'd want a crushing 24-0 victory and nothing less.