How to get Football Photography Accreditation
Original Article June 2008. Updated 20th Nov 2017
In the north of England there is no accreditation system for the North West Counties league or the Evo-Stik (was Unibond) league. A few years ago I had a Unibond Media pass but they stopped issuing them around 2002 maybe. For these leagues I just email the club and ask for permission to photograph. I never turn up unannounced. The clubs are usually more than glad to see you.
National (Was Conference) Leagues. Premier, North and South
These leagues require a licence that can be obtained from the National league. You will need to use the contact details from the league website. The criteria seems to be 2m Public Liability cover and a good reason for them to issue a licence. This email was correct for 2016/17 season.. Oliver@thenationalleague.org.uk
You can also apply to an individual club for a licence number. The league issue all clubs with a licence. the club can then issue numbers to whoever they see fit. For example my Accrington Stanley licence was ASFC001 as issued by the club, My name and this number was given to the league who then circulated it to all clubs. Our local newpapers where issued numbers by the club as was anyone else they saw fit. Some National league clubs are known to have handed out 10-20 numbers while others none. You can use the licence to get into any National league ground by sending a FAX/Email. So long as your name and number is on the list supplied by the league then you will normally be given accreditation.
Womens football Any level
There are no known accreditation schemes for womens football (Nov 2017) for womens super league or regional leagues. However I have come accross big games such as cup finals where I have been asked for DataCo licence or press card. I guess it is down to the competition and/or venue. I would advise not to turn up Unannounced. All clubs have contact details so get in touch first. Then at the game introduce yourself to both managers and the match officials
Junior football Boys/Girls
No Accredition required for Junior football. However there are a few Do's and Don'ts .. Myth
You do NOT require a CRB/DBS to photograph Junior football. In fact the English FA refuse to accept applications from photographers as we are not in direct contact with players.Guidelines
Never turn up Unannounced. All clubs have contact details so get in touch first. Then at the game introduce yourself to both managers and the match officials. Some organisations such as the FA and NSPCC offer guidelines to photographing children .FA Photographing u18s
and also NSPCC Child Protection in Sport
I have a code of conduct for junior sport on my website you can read and copy/credit if you wish Junior Sport Code of Conduct
(The holy grail of accreditation)
How to Photograph Premiership, Championship or football league games? You could become a club photographer. Some clubs have multiple photographers or use agencies. You could apply to join an agency and be sent to games. You might work for media such as newspapers. The hardest option in my opinion is to gain your own DataCo licence.
As a club photographer you photograph under the club licence and as such the photographs belong to the club. You can only photograph matches that involve your team. If you join or work for an agency or work in the media (newspapers etc) The pictures will belong to the licence holder who owns the copyright to the picture and not the photographer.
To apply for your own DataCo League licence
you must have the appropriate public liability cover. Then in the 12 months prior to applying you must have had 15 football action photographs published in either regional or national printed media (According to Kelly Williams in June 2015 The Non-League paper is classed as a regional paper.. Online equivalents of regional newspapers as well as online only publications would deem to be equivalent to a regional newspaper). These must have been paid for at the going rate (Going rate is what the publisher will normally pay for a photograph.. this varies around the country. So long as you recieve the same as other photographers and not cheaper or free then you are fine). You will need to show news cuttings of the 15 pictures accredited to you along with invoices and proof of payment. As above for a Premiership licence
but you must have had 30 pictures published in National Press.. Regional will not suffice for a prem licence..
If you are a club photographer or work for an agency or newspaper/media, You can not use any of those pictures towards your licence because they are owned by the licence holder not the Photographer.
So how do you get pictures for the licence without a licence?. Well the 15 football action shots can be from any competative league. (Womens football does not count towards a licence as confirmed by DataCo Sep 2010). Regional newspapers will pay for football action from any league they cover. I used to believe it was a catch 22 situation. However it can be done if you are prepared to put the time and effort into it. (July 2015
I have two close contacts who have succesfully applied for a DataCo league licence for the upcoming 2015/2016 season)
For up to date information on league accreditation why not go direct to source and email Kelly Buckley (Nee Williams ).. e-mail: email@example.com
You will get answers to any questions you need to ask so don't be afraid to contact her.
Public Liability Insurance
Cover is required for a licence at any level. However you should have cover when photographing at non league grounds. You will be pitchside and a player could crash into you and your equipment. Having no cover is like driving without insurance. You need it so get it. Be safe :)
UK Press Pass
In order to get a UK Press Pass you need to show that the majority of your earnings come from Press photography. The Pass will not get you into league football. However it can be used by licence holders as ID. The current DataCo system requires you to have either a DataCo ID card or a press pass.