The UEFA Club Licensing Committee is making an important contribution in helping football administrators across Europe make the running of their clubs more professional and transparent.
The panel was established to oversee the development and implementation of the UEFA club licensing system, which was introduced in 2004 in an attempt to fix minimum standards to be met by teams entering UEFA competitions. The system has gradually increased in influence, with more than 620 top-flight clubs – some 86 per cent of all top-division teams in Europe – applying for a licence for the 2008/09 season. Committee chairman Giangiorgio Spiess is proud of the work done so far, but he told uefa.com there is still room for improvement.
"I think a lot of things have been achieved," he said. "UEFA has the licensing situation very much in hand. I think we have made a lot of progress, both in small and big federations. However, there is still much to do, because the situation is forever changing. People come in with new ideas, and we have to adapt constantly. Having said that, we can be confident that we have tackled many issues."
The UEFA Club Licensing Manual and the Club Licensing Quality Standard are the documents which form the cornerstone of the system. National associations integrate the 34 minimum licensing stipulations laid out in the Manual into their own regulations. The Quality Standard ensures each of the 53 member associations operate their system to the highest professional standards.
In the current year, the system has been strengthened with more challenging requirements. Concrete results have been already achieved including improvement in the fields of infrastructure, payment of debts, financial budgeting, internal organisation and coaching and youth development. However, the cosmopolitan nature of the European football family means the committee constantly has to bear in mind the rich spectrum of cultures and different legal and regulatory environments in force in Europe.
Andrea Traverso, head of club licensing, said: "Of course, this is the main challenge – it was true at the beginning, but it also remains relevant today as we try to develop this system and implement the rules in a consistent way. UEFA, as football's governing body in Europe, has a duty to take into consideration the specificities of the different countries. This is why we set minimum standards, which can be upgraded on a national level to reflect the various specificities in each territory."
Encouraging tighter financial management in clubs is one of the key aspects of the system, with a failure to meet economic criteria accounting for many of the licence rejections. No licence can mean exclusion from European competition – an unwelcome fate already experienced by 43 clubs from 20 countries. However, the system has also led to national associations and clubs coming together to exchange expertise in an attempt to ensure they meet the licensing requirements.
"One of the real benefits of establishing a pan-European club licensing system is the chance to share experiences between national associations, leagues and also at club level," said Aleš Zavrl, head of the Club Licensing Committee Working Group. "UEFA is playing an active role in organising workshops and seminars and encouraging licensors within national associations to communicate with each other. I think this is the right solution to improve the understanding of football in Europe, because we must get to know all of these different footballing cultures, league structures and the differing potential for development."
Traverso added: "The system is dynamic, and will continue developing - this is why there is a committee and why there is a working group of the committee which will continually look at the development of the rules. Obviously, fine-tuning will probably be necessary on a yearly basis, and will help European football go from strength to strength. We are working towards that."
©UEFA.com 1998-2013. All rights reserved.