Raising standards across the board in European football.
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The UEFA club licensing system
Club licensing was first introduced as a set of criteria to be fulfilled in order for clubs to be eligible to participate in UEFA club competitions. Since the first licences were granted in 2004, it has developed into much more than that, and is now embedded into UEFA member associations' strategic plans for club development and improved governance, as well as becoming a fundamental consideration in the key decisions that clubs take, and how they operate.
The system is implemented through UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations on the basis that clubs competing in UEFA competitions should respect the same minimum requirements. The criteria included in the regulations are structured around five pillars: sporting, infrastructure, personnel and administrative, legal and financial.
Overall, club licensing has as an objective to:
• Promote and continuously improve standards across all areas of football in Europe;
• Ensure that clubs have an adequate level of management and organisation;
• Adapt clubs' sporting infrastructure to provide players, spectators and media representatives with suitable, well-equipped and safe facilities;
• Protect the integrity and smooth running of UEFA club competitions.
The effects of club licensing have resulted in a considerable social impact that, in some cases, goes beyond football itself. This is largely depicted through the obligation for all clubs to have a written youth development programme, an established medical care of players, as well as increased financial transparency and management.
A further example of where club licensing is aiming to be a catalyst for change followed the introduction of the supporter liaison officer and disability access officer roles in 2012 and 2015 respectively. Additionally, the close link between the UEFA Coaching Convention and the UEFA club licensing system has also added to the importance and acceptance of coaching qualifications within the professional game.
Since the first licences were granted in 2004, UEFA and its member associations have shared their experiences and best practice knowledge with FIFA and other continental confederations who have introduced similar systems within their own territories. In this respect UEFA continues to look to the future and find ways to continue developing club licensing, in order to keep increasing standards at pan-European level, and address the predominant issues that continue to exist in football.
UEFA is a global pioneer of the club licensing system, and aims to promote good governance in club football throughout Europe. In this respect, UEFA establishes its Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations, and has a fundamental role in the training and education of national associations and clubs, among other things.
Furthermore, UEFA's 55 member associations are given a certain amount of flexibility in terms of how they implement the licensing system in order to allow them to adapt the system to the local environment in which football operates.
UEFA continuously develops the club licensing system to adapt to the ever-evolving landscape of European football, and does so in constant consultation with its stakeholders.
The system is fundamentally based on a number of principles, including equal treatment to ensure that all clubs, no matter their size or financial capability, are treated the same across the board. Likewise, the principle of subsidiarity, where it is UEFA member associations or their affiliated leagues that act as the decision-makers when it comes to licensing clubs, is essential.
Club licensing criteria
The sporting criteria are primarily aimed at encouraging investment in quality-driven youth development programmes which not only support the football education of youth players but also place the necessary emphasis on non-football education, medical care, fair play on and off the pitch, with the overall objective of attracting into football more and better-educated boys and girls.
Clubs must have an approved stadium which fulfils the requirements of the UEFA Stadium Infrastructure Regulations and provides spectators and media representatives with a well-equipped, well-appointed, safe and comfortable environment. In addition, they must have suitable training facilities for their players to help them to improve their technical skills.
Personnel & Administrative
The personnel and administrative criteria aim to provide the framework for clubs to acquire well-educated, qualified and skilled specialists with a certain know-how and experience to run operations in an efficient and effective manner and to ensure that both youth and first-team players are trained by qualified coaches and supported by the necessary medical staff.
The legal criteria are aimed at ensuring clubs have a legally robust basis for applying the regulations, as well as ensuring transparency in terms of the legal entity responsible for the football team participating in national and international competitions, to establish a complete picture of the overall legal group structure and how it operates.
The scope of the financial criteria is quite extensive in that they aim to deliver both short and long-term improvements for the clubs by safeguarding the financial health of European club football as a whole. The criteria should improve standards and the quality of financial management and planning, which should in turn increase transparency and credibility, protect creditors and provide a basis for fair competition.
Regulations & publications
Club licensing benchmarking report financial year 2018
UEFA club competition landscape 2019/20
Club licensing benchmarking report financial year 2017
Procedural rules governing the UEFA Club Financial Control Body
UEFA compliance and investigation activity report 2017-2019
Club licensing benchmarking report financial year 2016
Club licensing benchmarking report financial year 2016 (Mandarin)
Club licensing benchmarking report financial year 2015
UEFA compliance and investigation activity report 2013–2015
Club licensing benchmarking report financial year 2014
Club licensing benchmarking report: 2013/14 season
UEFA Compliance and investigation activity report (bulletin 2013)
Club licensing benchmarking report financial year 2012
Benchmarking report – 11 selected findings (financial year 2012)
Club licensing quality standard (2012)
Club licensing benchmarking report financial year 2011
Benchmarking report – 11 selected findings (financial year 2011)
Club licensing benchmarking report financial year 2011 (in Russian)
Club Financial Control Panel activity report 2009-11
Club licensing benchmarking report financial year 2010
Club licensing benchmarking report financial year 2010 (in Russian)
Benchmarking report – 10 key facts (financial year 2010)
Club licensing benchmarking report financial year 2009
Benchmarking report – 10 key facts (financial year 2009)
Club licensing benchmarking report financial year 2009 (in Russian)