The Football Association’s Head of Judicial Services, Mark Ives, spoke recently with UCFB Wembley students as part of the Executive Guest Speaker Series. During his hour long appearance, Mark described his role at The FA and some of the more famous disciplinary proceedings he’s been involved with over the years.

His first senior role in football came as Chief Executive at The Hertfordshire Football Association, before taking on the job as County Business Development Manager in 2001 at The FA, who at the time were based in Soho Square in central London. Mark took on his current position in 2008, a year after the new Wembley Stadium opened.

Describe your position at The FA. What does it entail and how does it fall into the framework of the organisation?

I deal with all of the cases that The FA has decided to investigate and charge. Once an individual or club is charged they come through to my team to deal with the adjudication. I’m also responsible for football outside of The FA, so step four of the game which is managed by county associations. I’ve a responsibility to make sure they operate in a fair and consistent way as well.

What are the typical day to day pressures of working for an organisation like The FA?

It’s not really day to day pressures, no day is the same. When I took the role on I thought it was going to be the same thing day in, day out, but it’s not. Every incident we deal with is different, every case is different, it has a different dimension to it and the responses are different. I know that I’m going to have to deal with the normal red and yellow cards that happen on the pitch, but we’ll also deal with hearings regarding other on-field football matters. It can also mean off-field matters, social media, doping, anti-discrimination across the game. Another area within my team is the safeguarding of children. That affects local football and ensuring that children and young people within the game can play within a safe environment.

Describe the role of law within sport, and the importance of governance at an organisation like The FA.

There’s a framework that everybody who plays football has to adhere to – The FA Rules and Regulations. If you want to play football, that is a condition of your participation. We have a consistent approach across the board. There are regulations for various subject matters, but generally speaking there is an expectation of everyone who participates in the game to behave in a manner that is appropriate and proper. If people want to play football – play doesn’t just mean players, it can also mean volunteers, chairmen, secretaries – they have to adhere to our framework to make sure football is played in a fair and appropriate way.

UCFB students regularly undertake work placement roles at The FA. What attributes make certain students standout to FA staff?

Is there a greater place to study than Wembley Stadium? I’m not sure. If you can’t be inspired by working here, then there is something wrong! It’s a fantastic opportunity if people want to get into sport and sport law. I was very fortunate I was in the right place at the right time at a time when people were moving across from a volunteer workforce to a paid employment. Now though, with the investment across the game, there’s greater opportunities for people to get in whether it’s at The FA, a county association, at a league or at a club. I don’t look at this as a job, I look at it as a real pleasure and I’m proud to work here.

What are your thoughts on UCFB and the opportunities available for students?

If I was a student I wouldn’t be shy in making approaches to see whether or not there’s an opportunity for short placements, shadowing people, just getting a taster of what it’s like to work in football. Whether that’s in the area I work in within the governance and regulatory framework or elsewhere, whilst you’re here if you don’t ask the question you’re not going to get the answer. So take the opportunity to knock on the door and somebody might just open it.