With Football Manager 2021 being just a few months away, here is an insight into the changes of the rules and regulations of the playable Vanarama National League.

We all know how in-depth Football Manager are with their games. Being able to control teams to such an extent is what makes us love the game, but are there some rules and regulations missing within the Vanarama Leagues?


The Vanarama rules and regulations actually give over a lot of the control to the teams involved in the leagues, and are a lot less stringent than the EFL and the Premier League. One of the major rules that I believe is missing within FM20, that we can hope for within FM21, is the control teams have over postponing matches. There are multiple chances for teams to postpone their games if necessary. A club can apply to postpone a match in the case of the following:

  • They have an FA cup, Trophy, or Vase game within 48 hours of a league game.
  • They have two or more players on international duty.
  • If they believe they have too many injuries within the squad.

FM20 players who delve into managing within the non-league will know that there is no such control to be able to do this. 

Rule quoted from The National League official website:

8.5 In the event of any Club being required to play an FA Cup or FA Trophy match within 48 hours of a scheduled Competition fixture it shall have the right to apply in writing as soon as practically possible (but in any event no later than 48 hours after becoming aware of the relevant Cup fixture) to have its Competition fixture postponed with or without the consent of its opponent.

To re-schedule a midweek fixture for an evening other than a Tuesday will require written agreement of both Clubs and the Competition Secretary.
The Competition Secretary reserves the right to amend scheduled fixtures and kick-off times to meet television requirements as necessary. Notification will be provided by the Competition Secretary in writing to both Clubs for fixtures so rescheduled.

8.7 The Board may change any Competition fixtures during the season to suit the overall interests of the Competition and shall have the power to decide whether a ground is suitable for Competition matches and to order a Club whose ground is deemed unsuitable to play its home matches at an alternative suitable ground.

8.8 Three (3) weeks’ notice is required from Clubs wishing to re-arrange a Saturday match to Friday evening or Sunday. A request made in less than this period of time will only be considered by the Board in exceptional circumstances and granted at their sole discretion.

Whilst this is normally an easy work around for larger clubs, it is not as easy for clubs with smaller squads. A heavy fixture list can be quite the burden on a player’s fitness within the non-league given the lower natural fitness and stamina stats. Consistently having a game every three to four days throughout the grueling season can certainly become a struggle, and being able to have the control to apply for postponing matches in FM21 may give managers more freedom in the fixture list, and a bit more flare in the decision making of whether you want to risk playing games with players on lower fitness, or re-arrange games for later in the year.

A few other smaller rules that would be a fun addition into the game include: Firstly, having control of the kits that are worn when playing at home. Vanarama requires home teams to contact the away club about the kit to wear on match-day.

Secondly, your captain has a part responsibility for your team sheet. Perhaps changing the pre-match briefing to be with your captain, as they are required to submit the team sheet with the manager.

Finally, having the responsibility to submit the match results (including goals and goal scorers, and cards given) to the Vanarama. 

Rule quoted from the National League website:

8.20 The Captain of each Club, accompanied by the person in charge of his team on the day, i.e. the Manager must hand the Team Sheet containing name(s) of Players taking part in a match (including the name(s) and number(s) of the nominated substitute(s) to the Referee and a representative of their opponents in the presence of the Referee at least sixty minutes before the scheduled time of kick-off. The Players’ numbers (in accordance with Rule 7) and the colours of the playing strip must be clearly stated. Any Clubs in breach may be fined.

8.21 Any Club altering its team selection or numbering after Team Sheets have been exchanged may be fined. A Player who is named on the Team Sheet may be replaced without fine if he is injured warming up after exchange of the Team Sheet. Any subsequent changes must be notified to the referee and to a representative of the opponents before the actual kick-off.
The name of the Doctor or Medical Practitioner in attendance (in accordance with Rule 25) must be entered on the Team Sheet in the appropriate space provided.
8.24 In all Competition Matches, the number of Clubs Players and officials seated on the team benches, in the designated technical area, must not exceed 11 unless the team bench facility provides more than 11 individual seats.
8.25 Only one person at a time has the authority to convey tactical instructions to the Players during the match from within the technical area.
8.26 All team officials and substitutes seated on the bench shall be listed on the official Team Sheet when it is submitted to the Match Officials. Only those persons listed on the official Team Sheet shall be permitted in the technical area.

Vanarama sideline

The addition of the rules would, in my opinion, add to the increasing realism of the game, and allow a much different experience when managing in the non-league, compared to elsewhere.