The Leisure Leagues Rules

The Leisure Leagues Rules

Whatever five or six a side league you play in, whether you play with us or someone else, the rules you are playing with were first written by Leisure Leagues! Yes, before the days of structured small-sided leagues, Leisure Leagues had to invent their own, bespoke rules for, what was then, only 5-a-side. And these rules have been inherited by every small-sided organiser, as well as national FAs to become the benchmark for 6v6 soccer across the world. We don't mind that everybody uses our rules, we see that as a compliment. Anyway, here are the most up to date rules for small-sided leagues.

Beginning and Completing The Game

1a) The match will be started by the referee giving the ball to one of the teams in turn in the centre of the pitch at the start of the half

1b) Game duration is either 26 or 38 minutes – made up of equal halves and a 4 minutes half time

1c) The referees whistle overrules any hooter should the match have a hooter

1d) There shall be 9 players maximum per squad in one night (if the match is a five a side match it will be eight)

Guest players

2a) A team is allowed no more than two guest players per match and all guest players should be agreed before kick-off after discussions between the referee and the opposition skipper

2b) The referee reserves the right to refuse or accept guest players if, in his opinion, the outcome of the match would be significantly altered by their inclusion

2c) Guest players can only be used to make up the basic squad of six. Guest players MUST NOT be used  as substitutes.

2d)  Teams are still liable to pay their full match fee even if they are using a guest.

2e)If a guest player misbehaves during the game then the team captain is responsible for any discipline fine that is accrued.

Flexi-squad System

2f) The “flexi squad system” means teams do not have to register players and can use any amount of players during the season, as long as they do not play regularly with any other team in the same division.

2g) Although players do not need to be registered, please note that only players who are registered are eligible for a Man of the Match Award.


3a) Time will be added on if a penalty is awarded to the end of the half where the offence took place

3b) The penalty taker must take no more than two steps before kicking the ball.

3c) The goalkeeper must remain on his line and stationary until the ball is kicked.

3d) Teams must make it clear to the match official who is taking the penalty kick. The penalty disallowed if the referee feels the goalkeeper was placed at a disadvantage by the teams not making it clear who was taking the penalty kick.

3e) If the penalty spot is not clearly visible, the penalty kick shall be taken 1 yard back from the edge of the area.

The Goalkeeper/The Area

4a) When a goal is scored, the goalkeeper must roll the ball out with an underarm action to restart play.

4b) The goalkeeper must not leave their area. If they do, it is punishable with a penalty

4c) If the goalkeeper makes a save and part of his body slides out of the area, the official will use their discretion. However, for the referee to rule in favour of the goalkeeper when this occurs the ball must have remained in the area and part of the goalkeepers body must do likewise. If, in the referees’ opinion, the goalkeeper started a sliding save too near to the edge of the area, which he could have reasonably foreseen would have taken the majority of his body out of the area (even though the ball may have remained in the area) then the referee shall rule against the custodian. The referee shall take into account the conditions of the surface in determining how far goalkeepers can reasonably be allowed to slide.  

4d) If a defensive side has a free-kick near to the goalkeepers area, then the referee may elect to continue play with an underarm roll-out by the goalkeeper if he chooses to do so.

4e) The goalkeeper must always roll the ball out with an underarm action. If they do not, an indirect free kick shall be awarded if either the ball goes above head height or the roll out is above the level of the shoulder

4f) Teams can change a goalkeeper during the match, but if a team makes an alteration of goalkeeper then the referee must be notified before the change is made.

4g) If an attacker kicks the ball near the area, then the physical action of the kick must have started and finished outside the area, however the momentum of the connection is allowed to continue into the area.

4h) Attacking players may also enter the opposing area - although by momentum only -  the referee shall be the sole judge of any momentum and this does not absolve the attacker of making every reasonable effort not to enter the area.

4i) Players will not be penalised if, through no fault of their own, they enter the area when they have made a reasonable attempt not to enter the area. This rule is particularly pertinent attacking players who may push defending players into the area.

4j)Please note, with regard to all the discretions, the ball should not have been played in the area. Discretions apply to momentum only.

4k) The goalkeeper must not kick the ball, except in the course of making a save. If the goalkeeper does kick the ball other than in the course of making a save, an indirect free kick will be given, two yards outside the area.

4l) Players must not run through the area. If they do and in doing so gain an advantage, they will be penalised.


5a) When an outfield player receives the ball from the goalkeeper, the ball must be touched by another player before being passed back to the goalkeeper. If it is passed back, it is punishable with an indirect free kick, two yards outside the area.


6a) All outfield players may not play while wearing a cap or hat, jeans or shoes. The goalkeeper is allowed to wear headgear.

6b) No player may not play without a shirt on.


7a) Teams are allowed three replacements who must only stand behind the goal they are defending.

7b) More than one substitution is allowed at any one time however, if there are more than the allotted players on the pitch at any one time the teams shall be penalised.

7c) Substitutes can only enter the match when their team is on the attack and in the oppositions half

7d) Substitutes are unlimited and can be done at any time during the game.

7e) Substitutes are not allowed onto the playing area until the substituted player has exited the field of play.

7f) Further to rule 7A, ball strikes a substitute who is not stood behind the goal, then the referee will punish this with a penalty.

The Head-Height Rule (only applies to indoor leagues)

8a) In an indoor league, the ball shall not go above Head Height.

8b) It is solely at the discretion of the referee what constitutes head-height, however, head-height is determined as an infringement when the whole ball passes above the height of the tallest player on the pitch.

8c) When the head-height rule is infringed, the free-kick shall be taken where the ball was originally played.

8d) If the ball goes above head-height off the goalkeeper, goalposts or any other fixed equipment then play shall continue.

8e) If the ball goes above head-height off a wall or netting then, the referee shall decide whether an infringement has occurred.

8f) The heading of the ball is allowed.

Free Kicks, Kick ins & Corners

9a) All of the above are indirect

9b) On all free kicks, players must stand two yards from the ball. When a free kick is on the edge of the area, the ball should be moved two yards back.

9c) If a player refuses to retreat two yards from the free kick or, as the free kick is being taken extends any part of his body towards the ball which means that he is no longer two yards from the free kick then he or she will be subject to punishment. In all instances, the ball must be stationary before the kick is taken.

The Two Yard Rule

10a) If a player fails to retreat two yards or the ball hits a player who has not retreated two yards at the kick – or the player extended their leg towards the ball meaning that they are no longer two yards from the ball, then the referee shall move play forward a further two yards and allow the kick to be retaken

10b) Players that show dissent towards the referee or his decision, will be punished by the kick being moved forward two yards.

10c) The referee may move the kick forward at two yard intervals however many times he considers to be appropriate

10d) If by moving the ball forward two yards, the free kick then becomes within the area of the defending side, a penalty shall be awarded.

General Rules

11a) If applicable, the referees scoring overrules  any other form of scoring

11b) The referee will be the sole judge of whether a tackle is dangerous or not in the of the spirit of the game.

11c) Teams must not change or alter the position of any equipment in order to gain an advantage.

11d) Teams should make every attempt to play in similar colours or else they will be required to use the bibs provided by our Match Officials.

11e) Teams who arrive late for their kick off time may be subject to the match being forfeited

11f) The electronic signing of the entry form indemnifies Leisure Leagues from any responsibility for personal injury or lost property whilst participating in the organised leagues. We do advise to take out their own personal insurance, which they are responsible for arranging.

11g) If teams wish to cancel a match, they automatically lose the game 5-0 and their opponents will play a friendly arranged by Leisure Leagues.

11h) If there are one or more vacancies in any league a friendly fixture will be arranged for the team(s) who are scheduled to play what we term a ‘Points Match’. Please note that all teams are required to attend all scheduled Points Match fixtures, pay the match fee in full, and play the pre-arranged friendly; the  team will then receive a 5-0 win and two points. If a team does not wish to play the scheduled friendly then it is their responsibility to notify Head Office seven days or more in advance or they will be liable for payment of the match fees in accordance with our rules. Teams who do not attend points matches will not receive their 5-0 win for that week regardless of whether they have provided 7 days’ notice or not.

11i) If a team does not attend a fixture, and has not given seven days’ notice, they will lose the match 5-0 and will be charged the full match fee. Teams who wish to withdraw from the league must give two weeks’ notice of their intent to do so and are required to play two full matches prior to withdrawal; failure to do this will result in the Team Captain being charged their full two weeks match fees for both missed fixtures.

11j) If a team fails to attend two consecutive matches and fails to inform Leisure Leagues of their intention to withdraw from the competition, then they are liable for both missed match fees. They will also be charged their two weeks withdrawal notice on top of the match fees.

11k) All teams are automatically entered into a new league season unless they provide us with the required two weeks withdrawal notice prior to the end of the previous campaign. If a team wishes to withdraw from the league  - but only tells at the beginning of the new season -  they will need to play the first two matches of the new season before being able to withdraw.  If they do not do this then they will be subject to the rules as per 11j.

11l) Any players who are disciplined are not able to play until the fine is paid to the governing body we affiliate to.

The fine bands are:





DISMISSAL FINE BAND 3 (€20) (includes dangerous play and swearing at official)


SERIOUS DISMISSAL FINE BAND 4 (€50) (includes persistent verbal abuse towards official, blows exchanged between players or fighting)


DISMISSAL & EXCLUSION FINE BAND 5 (€100) (includes physical abuse towards official plus serious incidents involving other players or spectators.)

The Sin Bin

12a)As above, there is a disciplinary procedure in place for all leagues and it is the responsibility of all teams captains and players to adhere to this.  If a player is shown the yellow card then he is sin-binned for two minutes and must stand behind their own goal until the referee instructs him to come back onto the field of play. If the player refuses to leave the pitch immediately then he will be red-carded. The referee shall be the sole timekeeper in all instances where a player is sin-binned.


13a) If a player is dismissed then he should leave the pitch immediately. Failure to do so will result in the referee automatically awarding the match to the opposition

Time Wasting

14a) In 6v6 soccer, officials are instructed to take a more active approach towards time wasting than in an eleven a side game.

14b) If, in the opinion of the official, a player is guilty of time wasting at any point then the referee has full discretion to either award a free kick or a penalty kick as he see fit.

14c) This can be a first offence. There is no requirement for the player to be warned about time wasting before penalising them.

Penalties For Infringement Of The Rules


1. Intentional handball (and the player gains an advantage by doing so).

2. The ball going above head-height (this only applies to a league where head height is in operation as per the rules above)

3. Players time wasting

4. At a drop ball situation, a foul is committed when a player does not allow the ball to touch the surface before striking it.

5. It is an offence for an attacker to enter the opposition area.

6. A player not retreating two yards from the ball or showing dissent (this may also result in a penalty, see earlier rules).

7. It is an offence to pass back directly to the keeper. In this instance the free kick should be taken two yards outside the area where the ball left the area.

In this instance, the back pass must be intentional and the keeper must touch the ball. However, if  the ball rolls to a halt after the back pass has been made without it touching the keeper and without the ball entering the goal, then the referee should award an indirect free kick, as they would if the keeper had touch the ball

8. The goalkeeper making a foul throw, will be considered to be a foul. In this instance the free kick should be taken two yards outside the area where the ball left the area.

9. A player committing a slide tackle, will be considered to have made a foul.  Players are allowed to slide in the course of making a pass or a block, however. If a player slides and intercepts a pass then this is classed as a slide block. If a player slides and dispossesses a player that has the ball under control then this is classed as a slide tackle. This difference will be decided solely at the discretion of the referee.

10. Kicking the ball away is a yellow card offence.

11. A part of a players attire, or more particularly, their shoe, comes off during the course of the match, the referee should consider this a serious offence which may warrant a yellow card. The referee should then instruct the player to tie up their shoelace. In this instance, the match should continue. If a goal is scored by a player whose shoe comes off during the course of kicking the ball into the goal then the goal shall be disallowed and a direct free kick awarded to the opposition where the player originally kicked the ball from.

12. Fouls & Obstruction

13. A player attempting to play or playing the ball or being on the pitch with their shirt off.


1. The goalkeeper comes out of the area and, at the referees discretion has gained an advantage in so doing (see previous rules above)

2. A defender enters his own area and by so doing gains an advantage – again at the referee’s discretion

3. A defender enters his own area when he could reasonably have made an attempt not to do so


1. The referee may award either an indirect free kick, a direct free kick or a penalty if a team plays with more than its allotted number of players on the pitch at any time during the fixture. The referee should award the free kick (if that is his choice) when the offence is spotted and  from the postion where he spotted the offence.


Additional Rules For Outdoor  Leagues


16a) Where the ball leaves the area of play, the referee shall award a kick-in to the appropriate team. At a kick-in the ball should be stationary and the opposing player should be at least two yards from the ball.

16b) Rule 7f does not apply.

Extra Rules For Indoor/Sports Hall Leagues

17a) Where walls or boarding is used at the side of the pitch, the referee shall be more severe and impose greater punishment upon players who push or foul opponents near to that wall.

Health and Safety

18a) It is important that all participants understand that these matches are contact sport and contain risk to the person participating for which the organiser cannot be held responsible.

18b) All participants agree that Leisure Leagues have no control over the safety of the premises we hire, or persons admitted to the venues that are hired by us. It is the sole responsibility of the team captain to ensure their team's players do not kick off any game unless they are satisfied that both the surface and other conditions are satisfactory and safe for the activity in question having due regard for the participants. Leisure Leagues cannot be held responsible for any defects to the venue which may cause injury and all team captains understand this when participating.

18c) Team captains must inspect the pitch and playing conditions and must report any issues prior to their game commencing to the officials on duty otherwise it will be decided that the team captain and their players have accepted any risks and any ensuing liability for any  injury that occurs subsequently.


19a) Please note that the Team Captain is responsible for the conduct of all players and all spectators connected with the team. Failure to control the conduct of players or spectators will result in the Team Captain being responsible for any resulting fines being paid in full




What Does Your Joining Fee Cover?


The joining fee is $25 and is a discipline bond and is a one off fee, covering the cost of administering discipline in the leagues.

What Does Your Match Fee Cover?

The match fee goes towards the pitch hiring enabling you to participate in the sport itself. When you pay this fee you agree that the majority or full amount of your fee is directly paid, via the organiser acting as the collection officer, for the following:

1 The hire cost of the pitch


2 The cost of the referee and the match balls which are essential to the playing of the chosen competitive sport.


As our members you agree that when you make these payments you are making a commitment to participate for a minimum of ten consecutive weeks in the league, you automatically become our members along with other players in the league who are also our members, and that as part of our wider club or membership all our members have exclusivity on the pitch we have hired for the duration of hire and that non members have no right to participate on the pitch during that time.


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