Unsuccessful Promotion Bid: How to Come Back Stronger

Unsuccessful Promotion Bid: How to Come Back Stronger

Being unsuccessful in your efforts to be promoted can be hard, especially if you are trying to break into a higher standard of football. It can make you feel deflated, angry, and cause you to lose your motivation and desire to keep refereeing at a level you feel you’ve conquered. We understand that and have experienced this disappointment throughout our officiating careers as well.

However, it’s important not to let a promotion rejection keep you from applying for once again. So, this week, we’ve put together some of our best advice on how you can not only deal with an unsuccessful promotion bid but also use it to improve yourself and future refereeing prospects.

Let’s get started.

Take Some Time Out to Get Your Emotions in Place

After any rejection, you are likely to experience many different emotions, and therefore we encourage you to take some time out to allow you to process your feelings.

Being rejected doesn’t mean that your attributes and qualities aren’t remarkable. When it comes to promotions, referee committees weigh numerous considerations. Many factors may have led to your unsuccessful promotion bid, including being under-qualified through a lack of games, your attitude towards the role and the association, your interview experience and many more.

Often some of these factors may be beyond your control. You have to understand that in today’s competitive pool, there are often hundreds of officials hoping to ascend to the next level, so for a committee to pick only a certain number to go up is a very challenging decision. As a result, even if you are not reclassified, it may not mean that the committee or your Referee Development Officer/Manager doesn’t like you.

Whenever you receive a rejection, start by thanking your Referee Development Officer/Manager for their help and support throughout the season and follow by asking if they can give you some feedback from your observations. If feedback is not an option, begin by evaluating how you thought you did in your games. Did you not allow the games to flow? Did you apply law as well as you could do?

By identifying areas of weakness, you can then focus on learning how to improve yourself in these areas.

Understand That You Aren’t The Only One

Every season, countless officials face unsuccessful promotion bids. If you are dealing with rejection, the best thing you can do is reach out to colleagues who are currently, or have previously been in similar situations.

This way, you can share your experience and emotions and get mutual support that will be enormously beneficial. They can tell you how to deal with being unsuccessful in your efforts to be promoted, and you can ask them what they did to overcome this phase.

There are also various books, podcasts and YouTube videos on how to handle promotion rejection. Hearing how others were able to bounce back from a significant unsuccessful promotion bid can help you feel less alone and more confident when you are ready to start reapplying again.

Consider What You Could Have Done Differently

After every observation, sit down for a few minutes and consider what you thought you could do better. This could be from how you communicated with players and club officials to your decision-making skills and even your body language.

If you felt that you were a bit shaky with your decision-making skills, work on making decisions under pressure before your appointment to help reduce your nerves. Write down some of the aspects of your performances that you struggled with and do some research into how you may have been able to respond better to those situations. By doing this, you will create stronger responses that you can call upon in your next appointment.

The point of thinking about what you could have done differently is not so you can beat yourself up over what you did wrong, but so that you can learn from it. Take each fixture and your rejection as an opportunity to grow stronger for the next season.

Concentrate on Your Strengths

Although you didn’t get the promotion, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you did not have any areas that you excelled in. So, take some time to re-evaluate what you thought went well over the season. If you were able to receive feedback from observers, ask what areas they believed you did well in. It’s just as important to focus on your areas of strength as it is to focus on your areas of weakness.

By focusing on your strengths and highlighting them in future appointments, you’ll be able to show observers why you’re better placed for promotion next year. It can also help you improve your refereeing ability and even help you land your dream role in your professional life.

Come Back Stronger

Applying for promotion isn’t easy, especially if you are recovering from an unsuccessful promotion bid. However, if you have taken the time to process your emotions, work on your weaknesses and have learned to highlight your strengths – you’ll come back stronger and more motivated to get going again.

If you are feeling weary about having to fill out tedious Laws of The Game assessments again, go through your previous efforts and see if you can pull any content from them to help you with new Laws of The Game exams.

Doing this allows you to make sure that each future promotion application is stronger than your previous one, giving you the best chance of succeeding, and it will make it easier to start the application process again as it won’t feel like you have to start from scratch.


Applying for promotion is hard and receiving a rejection from it is even worse. What’s important though is what you do after you’ve received that rejection as it can determine the outcome of other future opportunities.

If you don’t take the time to re-evaluate yourself, your emotions and your skillset to ensure that you go into the next season a stronger referee than you did before, you will be doing yourself a disservice. In addition to this, if you don’t put in the work and the time to regroup and come back better prepared and more motivated, then it can lead to more promotion rejections in the future.

So, give yourself time to be upset about your unsuccessful promotion bid but don’t stay there. Get back up and start looking at your strengths and areas to improve. Work to develop your skillset and use your strengths to your advantage. By taking the time to hone your skills, you will be better prepared to blow away your competition and get to the level you want to operate at.

At The Third Team I work individually and in collaboration with different professionals where I have developed workshops and 1-2-1 sessions associated with Resilience and Mental Toughness Development to help referees. The workshops and 1-2-1 sessions are interactive, where referees are encouraged to open up and share their experiences to help themselves and each other.

Feel free to contact me if you’d like to know more about my workshops or 1-2-1 sessions and how I could help you or your officials.

Best Wishes,

Nathan Sherratt Signature

Nathan Sherratt

Referee Educator & Managing Director of The Third Team

Nathan Sherratt

Nathan Sherratt, Referee Educator, Resilience Trainer and Managing Director of The Third Team.  A Mental Toughness Practitioner based in County Durham, North East England.