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UEFA plans to introduce the new licensing system in time for the 2004/05 season, with the aim of providing a framework for clubs to run themselves more efficiently.
UEFA will approve each association's national licensing manual in April and May after which national associations are bound to proceed to the assessment" of clubs, which starts in season 2003/04.
UEFA has established a club licensing panel for developing the system and will provide technical assistance and financial assistance - for four years from 2004, associations will be able to claim up to €170,000 per year to help with implementing the system.
UEFA hopes the club licensing system will have widespread benefits, encouraging clubs to improve their infrastructure and rootistration, achieve greater financial transparency, and show a real commitment to the development of young players.
UEFA's club licensing manual, which was approved in April last year, contains five key criteria: sporting; infrastructure; personnel and rootistrative; legal; and financial. According to the provisions of the manual, every club qualifying for European club competition on a sporting basis from 2004/05 will have to hold a licence, and only in exceptional cases will clubs without a licence be allowed to enter UEFA club competitions.
Financial regulations will ensure, for example, that clubs cannot acquire a licence if they are behind in transfer payments to other clubs or payments to club employees.
Clubs will have to fulfil certain requirements as regards personnel: for instance, each should have in place a general manager, club secretariat and finance officer. There will also be measurable and quantifiable safety criteria for stadiums, while UEFA will also look for clubs to improve their youth and training policies.