Recruitment, Eligibility & Entitlement


In line with Football League Rule 81 relating to youth development, a Club may only enter into an Apprenticeship Agreement with a youth player who has reached the statutory school leaving age applicable in England (ie.16).

Prior to the start, Apprenticeship Agreements should be signed by the Apprentice, Club, parent or guardian and witnessed, with copies sent to The Football Association, The Football League and a copy retained by the Apprentice and the Club. All relevant registration forms for The Football League and The Football Association must also be completed.


An Apprentice Eligibility Checklist and guidance is provided to all Football Clubs which outlines the requirements an Apprentice must meet before they can be placed on the government funded ASE programme.

If the Apprentice:

  • Has completed their legal requirements in accordance with the Education Act (as outlined below)
  • Has a valid National Insurance Number
  • Is between 16 and 18 years of age
  • Is a national of any country within the European Economic Area (EEA) or the child of an EEA national who has been ordinarily resident in the EU for the 3 years preceding the Apprentice’s funded start date

Then eligibility for government funding is confirmed.

For Clubs wishing to sign Apprentices from outside of England it is recommended that you contact The Football Association for advice on clearance, transfer and status of players prior to offering boys Apprenticeships. (Please contact Dawn Keleher, Assistant Manager, Registrations –

If you are unsure about a young persons’ eligibility please feel free to contact LFE and we will do our best to resolve your query.


The majority of children now stay in full-time education well beyond the age of 16. Prior to 1997, some 16 year olds could legally leave school before the end of the academic year – either at Easter or at the end of May, depending on their birth date.

Legislation passed on 1st September 1997 changed this (under Chapter 1, Part 8 of the Education Act 1996) with a new single school leaving date being set for 1998 and all subsequent years. This is the last Friday in June in the school year in which a child reaches the age of 16.

Until this date:

  • Parents and guardians must ensure their child’s participation in education, at school or otherwise
  • Local education authorities (and/or the Funding Agency for Schools) must secure the provision of suitable education
  • Employers may not employ a child full-time
  • Training providers may not provide full-time Government sponsored training

The requirement is binding on all children and their parents and guardians, whether or not the child is enrolled in a school. Children educated otherwise than at school, whether under arrangements made by the parent or by a local authority, are also prohibited from taking full-time employment until the relevant date.

The Government’s intention in bringing in this legislation is to ensure that a child’s education continues at least until the summer which completes eleven years of compulsory education.

The date chosen coincides with the end of the main examination period. It should therefore enable more children, whether or not on a school’s roll, to be entered for and to achieve GCSE, GNVQ and other qualifications.

However, the date is binding even on children who are not entered for examinations and assessments. The duty is to ensure that all children benefit from suitable education, at school or otherwise, until the legal date.