Encouraging recent developments stimulated the debate at the latest UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play workshop in Vienna.
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UEFA’s latest Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play workshop in Vienna was able to reflect on another encouraging year of work to stabilise and reinforce European football’s financial well-being.
The annual event brought together representatives from UEFA’s 55 member associations, the UEFA Club Licensing Committee, FIFA and its continental confederations, and partner organisations.
The workshop is considered as one of the most important events in the calendar for the club licensing family, with those present hearing the latest developments on the club licensing system and its continued positive effect on the health of European club football.
The event was hosted in collaboration with both the Austrian Football Association (ÖFB) and the Austrian Football League, and more than 160 participants from across Europe shared their ideas on how to further promote and strengthen club licensing going forward.
UEFA vice-president and Club Licensing Committee chairman Michele Uva reflected on the work undertaken by the committee in recent years to improve European football from grassroots to professional level, as well as for supporters and the football family at large.
Uva noted that the 2019/20 season will be the first time that women’s football clubs will have to apply for a UEFA licence as part of the admission criteria for the 2020/21 UEFA Women’s Champions League.
This milestone, he said, “embodies the significant steps that UEFA have been introducing across the board to develop and promote the women’s game.”
Uva also highlighted the “importance of such events in terms of knowledge-sharing and having national associations working together with UEFA to keep developing football on the continent.”
On a similar note, UEFA’s head of club licensing, Aleš Zavrl, emphasised that “it is important to highlight the great footballing diversity that is represented across the continent, and how we all gather on an annual basis to keep improving the game, no matter where we come from.”
This year’s edition of the workshop provided various interesting insights. These included an overview of legal cases and challenges faced in relation to club licensing and financial fair play, as well as the latest analysis from UEFA’s Intelligence Centre on European club football’s performance and trends.
Delegates who came to the Austrian capital were able to reflect on the positive news announced by UEFA this year in its annual club licence benchmarking report, comprising an overview of 700 top-division clubs across Europe.
The report emphasised an important cultural change in European football finance over the past decade.
For the first time since financial fair play was introduced in 2009, the report says, the 700 top-division clubs together generated a ‘bottom-line’ profit figure in the 2017 financial year. These bottom-line profits of €615million – profits after transfer, non-operating, financing, tax and divestment – reflected six consecutive years of improvement.
Reasons for these developments included football regulation, led by UEFA with the backing of national associations; a stable media landscape; supporter loyalty; and a club-wide focus on managing costs - allowing European football to end the ten-year period in a much stronger position than a decade ago.
Another highlight of the event was a visit to Austria’s most titled club SK Rapid Wien, where participants were given a tour of the club’s facilities, as well as a presentation from the club on their approach when it came to building their new stadium in a timely and cost-effective manner, while ensuring the best supporter experience possible.
Other issues in the spotlight at the workshop included a session on the Football Federations of the Future initiative launched under the auspices of UEFA’s GROW programme, which aims to systematically and strategically strengthen European football to ensure that national associations are able to maximise their full potential both on and off the pitch.
UEFA will now continue to guide and support its member associations in implementing and developing the system to best adapt to the evolution of club football on this continent, and to keep raising the standards that have been rising in such a positive manner in recent years.