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5 Key Factors for Grading Football Cards

Collecting football cards is one thing, but the process of grading football cards is an entirely different beast. In fact, it’s a part of memorabilia hunting that is still undergoing serious (and constant) change.

The Process of Grading Football Cards

In the world of football card collecting, PSA grading holds significant weight, determining the value and desirability of a card within the market. As do some of their competitors.

PSA (‘Professional Sports Authenticator’) are widely heralded throughout the card collecting community as the kings of grading football cards – or any cards, for that matter – even sometimes ticket stubs and comic books! Like I say, competitors exist, but we’ll focus on PSA grading for now.

A PSA grade of 10 represents the pinnacle of perfection, indicating a card in flawless condition. However, achieving this coveted grade requires attention to detail and adherence to specific criteria.

In this article, we’ll explore the five key factors that influence PSA grading for football cards and ultimately lead to a grade of 10. And even then, it might not!

Bear in mind that this is a non-exhaustive list, and more things can be added. But we’re going to address the main points. Beginning with…


‘Centring’ refers to the alignment of the card’s image and borders within its boundaries.

A card with perfect centering features equal margins on all sides, with no off-centering or tilting.

PSA assesses centering by measuring the borders around the card’s edges, ensuring symmetry and balance. Cards with impeccable centering are more likely to receive a higher grade, as they exhibit superior visual appeal and craftsmanship.

By the way, even if a card looks centred, it might not be – don’t be fooled! Try this.

Surface Quality

Surface quality plays a crucial role in PSA grading, as any imperfections or flaws can detract from the card’s overall appearance and value. And thankfully for us, they’re quite easy to see.

Simply shine a light on the surface of your card – either raw or through a top loader / sleeve, and you should be able to see any evident imperfections with your card before considering grading them.

PSA assesses the surface of the card for defects such as scratches, scuffs, print defects, or printing errors. Cards with smooth, blemish-free surfaces are more likely to receive a higher grade, as they showcase pristine condition and attention to detail.

When it’s come to me personally grading football cards (or ‘soccer’ – whatever you call it), then I’ve usually tried to ascertain the surface area and centring before anything else.


The condition of the card’s corners is another important factor in grading football cards.

Cards with sharp, square corners are indicative of minimal handling and wear, contributing to a higher grade. PSA examines the corners for signs of rounding, creasing, or fraying, which can diminish the card’s overall presentation and grade.

Cards with flawless corners are more likely to achieve a grade of 10, as they exhibit impeccable structural integrity and preservation. Again, this is relatively simple to see.

And all the more reason to properly store your cards – like we discuss here.


Like corners, the edges of the card are scrutinized for signs of wear, damage, or imperfections.

PSA evaluates the edges for smoothness, uniformity, and sharpness, ensuring they are free from chipping, dinging, or roughness. All which will ding your result when grading football cards.

Print Quality

Print quality refers to the clarity, colour, and definition of the card’s image and text.

Grading football cards involves examining the print quality for consistency, vibrancy, and resolution, ensuring that the card’s design is crisp and well-defined.

Cards with superior print quality exhibit sharp details, vibrant colours, and precise registration, enhancing their visual appeal and grade. PSA assigns higher grades to cards with exceptional print quality, as they represent superior craftsmanship and production standards.


Grading football cards is a cruel and sometimes unpredictable mistress.

But hopefully, by understanding the key factors that influence PSA grading, collectors can assess their cards with a discerning eye and strive to meet the stringent criteria set forth by the grading process.

Centering, surface quality, corners, edges, and print quality all play crucial roles in determining a card’s grade, and attention to detail in these areas can significantly impact its value and desirability.

Match this up with external research on other values affecting a card’s value like: wider demand, football news, developments with the player, issues with the card stock etc, and you should be in a much better place when it comes to grading soccer cards than before.

Is grading football cards something you’ll be considering from now on?