UEFA has confirmed that its ambitious club licensing system, which will come into force at the start of the 2004/05 season, will be implemented as planned with five key criteria.
More than 100 clubs
Confirmation was given by European football's governing body on the first day of a meeting of the European Club Forum at the Palacio de Congresos in Barcelona. The meeting is being attended by more than 100 clubs, in the latest stage of the reinforced consultation process between UEFA and Europe's major clubs.
In order for a club to be admitted to any of the UEFA club competitions, minimum standards in areas including sporting matters, infrastructure, personnel and administration, legal matters and financial matters must be fulfilled.
A UEFA statement said on Monday: "With regard to financial criteria, UEFA confirmed to the clubs that for the 2004/05 season, they must prepare an annual statement for the financial year 2003, to be audited by independent and qualified auditors, and that they must prove not to have any overdue payables towards other clubs with regard to transfer activities, nor any overdue payables towards their employees."
"Contrary to recent media reports in France, the financial criteria will be introduced as planned, as from the 2004/05 season," UEFA added.
"It is a pleasure to be in Barcelona and to meet the clubs in a positive and constructive atmosphere," said UEFA's Chief Executive Lars-Christer Olsson. "It is also gratifying to see that the clubs recognise the need to introduce the licensing system as soon as possible. Clubs should therefore be planning urgently to fulfil the necessary requirements to be granted a licence."
UEFA Cup talks
The forum also discussed detailed proposals for the UEFA Cup, for which a new format is being introduced from next season. The talks, said UEFA, were "based on unanimous agreement that the time has come to rebrand the competition. Marketing questions need to be examined in detail in order to make concrete proposals to UEFA's Executive Committee".
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