The proposal of a Club Licensing system within the member nations of UEFA was first presented in Autumn 2000. UEFA proposed a model European standard for football and after consultation with those nations; the final UEFA proposals were approved in 2002.
The Football Association of Wales introduced its original and accredited by UEFA, Club Licensing Manual, in June 2003 and has continued to develop through consultation and collaboration with a variety of bodies in keeping with consistency to UEFA standards where necessary. The focus has been on establishing a set of quality standards for Welsh Football, which is attainable for all clubs currently in the League and also for those who have aspirations to join the League.
All Welsh Premier League clubs have undergone the licensing process since the 2003/2004 Season with the first licensed clubs being announced in April 2004. The Independent First Instance Body only granted a Licence to Newtown AFC but Rhyl FC, TNS, Haverfordwest County and Aberystwyth Town were all granted a Licence upon appeal in May. This figure rose to eight Licensed clubs the following year, then nine in 2005/06 and in the last cycle under the First Licensing Manual, a record twelve achieved the Licence in 2006/07.
The domestic licence in Wales for the women’s game was proposed as a ‘soft’ version for Tier 1 women’s teams in 2018 (ahead of the 2019/20 season). Clubs were not rejected a licence if they did not meet the requirements but showed the intention of the introduction for the new system. The following season it was formalised with clubs needing to obtain the licence to play in Tier 1.
The licensing system will have all the characteristics of a quality management system, that is coherent with UEFA Licensing. On an annual basis, the FAW Club Licensing System is subject to third party scrutiny (SGS) by UEFA and judged through applications assessed by two independent bodies (First Instance Body and Appeals Body), in order to guarantee transparency and integrity of the system. The FAW was awarded its certification to run a club licensing process on behalf of UEFA for the 2022/2023 season, with the certificate expiring on the 31st October 2023.
Club Licensing sets to establish a benchmark of quality standards and procedures by which clubs will be assessed annually and use this information to plan for future improvement. The focus for maintaining these quality standards within Welsh domestic football, is for football as a whole to be transparent and acknowledge its responsibility to the community at large, from players and staff to spectators and stakeholders.
The standards are presented in the form of five criteria headings, which are Infrastructure, Sporting (Youth and Coaching), Legal, Personnel & Administration and Financial.
The ‘Football Social Responsibility’ criteria was introduced in line with UEFA Football Sustainability strategy 2030 and relevant UEFA guidelines to ensure licence applicants are fulfilling their moral responsibilities to develop the standards in Welsh domestic football. Specific articles that are covered under football social responsibility includes, equality and inclusion, anti-racism and anti-discrimination, child and youth protection and welfare, football for all abilities and environmental protection.
The ‘Sporting’ element of the licensing procedure is concerned with coaching and youth development. Each licence applicant shall have a minimum of four youth teams between the ages of 10 and 21, with one under 10 team. Additionally, ‘Sporting’ covers the policies for registration, contracts and medical care of players, and highlights refereeing matters, laws of the game and women’s football activities.
The ‘Infrastructure’ category has been revamped and made consistent with the UEFA Club Competition Criteria for Stadia. Licence applicants must provide a Stadium for UEFA club competitions, whether it is their own or another in Wales, which is classified at least as a UEFA category 2 Stadium. This means that it should have at least 1,000, individual and fixed seats for First Qualifying Round matches and then 3,000 seats thereafter.
The ‘Personnel and Administration’ criteria outlines the personnel a licence applicant must appoint, the qualifications they must hold and the practices they must undertake applicable to their role. The personnel required include but are not limited to; a General Manager, a Club Secretary, a Financial Officer, several administration & security personnel and a variety of coaching staff at all levels of competition. The First Team Manager must hold a UEFA Pro coaching Licence or be studying for a UEFA Pro coaching Licence. All other coaching staff must also hold UEFA recognised coaching qualification appliable to their role within the club. It is also essential that a certified Medical Doctor and a Chartered Physiotherapist are available at all scheduled games.
The ‘Legal’ category concerns the legal entity of the licence applicant. The Club must have in place Club Statutes and declarations in respect of participation in UEFA club competitions, minimum legal information about the licence applicant and documents relating to its legal group structure and ultimate controlling party, beneficiary and party with significant influence.
All of the licence applicants should observe good financial practice and are required to provide the Licensor with a copy of their annual financial statement by the end of February along with submission of future financial information. The clubs must not have any overdue payables in respect to the following sources: to other football clubs arising from transfers, to employees and/or to social/tax authorities as a result of contractual or legal obligations and to UEFA and/or the licensor. Failure to correctly submit or declare any of the essential financial information would result in the rejection of a licence.
It is also important to mention that a Special Licence can be applied for by a club, who has qualified for a UEFA Competition based on its sporting achievements from outside the Cymru Premier, (i.e. by winning the Welsh Cup) in order to be eligible to participate in European competition in the following season.
Consequently, there has been a lot of work and liaising between the member clubs, the association’s licensing team, and independent experts since the introduction of the club licensing process to ensure club licensing forms a firm foundation to continually grow in domestic standards for all concerned within the Welsh football community.
If anyone would like any more information regarding the Club Licensing procedure, please do not hesitate to contact firstname.lastname@example.org, the Licensing department via email or by telephone on 02920 435 830.
Club Licensing Manager
Football Association of Wales Licensing Staff
Mr Noel Mooney
Mr Ian Fisher
Club Licensing Manager
Club Licensing Resources
Club Licensing & Club Monitoring Policy Statement
FAW Club Licensing and Financial Sustainability Regulations for UEFA Competitions 2023
FAW Men’s Tier 3 Club Licensing Regulations 2023
FAW Men’s Tier 2 Club Licensing Regulations 2023
FAW Men’s Tier 1 Club Licensing and Financial Sustainability Regulations 2023
FAW SGS Certification 2023-24
FAW Tier 1 Women’s Licence 2023-24
FAW UEFA Women’s Licence 2023-24
REQ 2 Policy Statement 2022
FAW Women’s Tier 2 Licence 2023-24