Football Club Assignment

Introduction

            Competing in the group stage of either the UEFA Europa League or the UEFA European Champions League is the dream of any club affiliated with UEFA and Genk is no exception. Competing at this level brings pride to the club officials, players, and supporters, not to mention the prestige attached with involvement in such a competition. For these reasons, competition is very stiff at the national level for only the teams in the elite league of a UEFA affiliated country can qualify for the playoffs. At the same time, UEFA has spelt out various requirements that the competing club must fulfil before it can participate in these competitions.   This report addressed to the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) and Stadium Manager of Genk football club, playing in the Belgian Pro League. The club is currently in position 5 of the Belgian Pro League on 45 points (UEFA 2016). The report is meant to further shed light on the requirements stipulated by UEFA regarding the participation of clubs into the aforementioned two competitions. This is with a view to ensuring that the club is well aware of these requirements and hopefully, make the necessary adjustments to ensure that it fulfils them in its quest to participate in the group stage for 2013/14.  Useful suggestions and recommendations are also provided to this effect. 

UEFA Requirements for Club Participation in UEFA European Champions League

Qualifications based on position in the domestic championship

            Article 3 of the UEFA Statutes deals with entries into UEFA Champions League (UCL) competition (UEFA 2015). UEFA member associations are at liberty to enter a defined number of their clubs for participation in the competition based on the association coefficient rankings of their top domestic championship. In this case, Genk would be eligible for entry into either the UEFA European Champions league or UEFA Europa League group stages via their top domestic championship, in this case the Belgian Pro League. Only a maximum of four clubs are eligible for competition each year, via each domestic championship.  In order to qualify for the UEFA Champions League competition for 2015/16, Genk need to have finished as winners of the Belgian Pro League during the 2014/15 season, as runners ups to the winner, or in third position.

Admission criteria into group stages

            Elsewhere, Article 4 of the UEFA Statutes addresses the issue of admission criteria and procedure in order that a club may participate in the competition. If at all Genk is to participate in either the UEFA European Champion League or EUFA Europa League, it needs to fulfil two key requirements. First, Genk must have qualified for either of these two competitions based on sporting merit, depending on the position at which the club finishes in the preceding year. Secondly, the club is required to fill in all the official documents required for entry into either competition, and which contains all the information that the UEFA administration regards as being necessary for ensuring compliance with the set admission criteria. The documents ought to reach the UEFA administration not later than 8 June 2015. The UEFA administration however reserves the right to request for such entry documents at an earlier date, in which case the club's association is required to write to the UEFA administration and confirm hat the club has met all the admission criteria that UEFA has established. 

Licence

            Moreover, the club is required to have received a licence from the competent national body going by the requirements of the Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations as set by FIFA. The club must also abide by the rules intended to promote integrity of the competition in line with the definitions of Article 5 of the UEFA Statutes. In this case, the club is required to confirm in writing that they, along with their officials and players, abide by the IFAB (International Football Association Board) Laws of the Game that the IFAB has promulgated. Besides, the club must show its commitment to respect the regulations, statutes, decisions and directives of UEFA.

Confirmation of participation

            The club needs to confirm in writing that they, along with their officials and players shall acknowledge the jurisdiction of the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) in Lausanne, Switzerland, in line with the applicable stipulations of the UEFA Statutes.  The club is also required to abide by the provisions of article 5 of the UEFA Statutes that deals with the issue of integrity of the competition. To ascertain integrity of club competition, UEFA has stipulated criteria that UEFA club members are required to abide by and which would in turn apply to Genk. First, by participating in a UEFA club competition, Genk may not indirectly or directly deal or hold in the shares or securities of any other club that is also involved in a UEFA club competition. Genk cannot also be a member of another club that is also taking part in a UEFA club competition, and neither should it be involved in the administration, sporting performance or management of another club that is also involved in a UEFA club competition.

Club duties

            Article 6 of the UEFA Statutes stipulates the duties of the clubs that need to be met for consideration before hosting group stage matches for either UEFA Champions League or the UEFA Europa League (EUFA 2015). Once admitted into the competition, the participating club must agree to play and stage all matches involved by fielding their strongest team in the entire competition, until they are eliminated, this must be done in compliance with all decisions assumes by the UEFA administration, UEFA Executive Committee, and other competent body. Moreover, all matches that the club hosts and/or participates in must be in compliance with the current UEFA Safety and Security Regulations.  In staging each match in the competition, the club must ensure that the hosting stadium meets the UEFA Infrastructural Regulations namely, category 2 stadium in case of first and second rounds of qualifications, category 3 in case of third round of qualifications, and category 4 in case of play-offs, quarter finals and semi-finals (EUFA 2015). Moreover, the artificial turf on the pitch should meet the relevant FIFA quality standards, and the club is expected to furnish the UEFA administration with a copy of licensing certificate granted by a laboratory that has been accredited by FIFA.

Club responsibilities

            Article 7 of the FIFA Statutes maintains that clubs should take responsibility of the behaviour of their officials, members, supporters, players, and other individuals conducting activities at a match on behalf of the club. The host club should ensure security and order prior to during, and after the match (EUFA 2015).  In case of any form of indiscipline, the host club could be required to account for such.  Moreover, while staging matches, the home club must do so in line with the instructions stipulated by UEFA.  The host club must also meet the minimum medical requirements regarding the provision of equipment, personnel and facilities in accordance with the existing UEFA Medical Regulations.

Fair play

            Article 9 of UEFA Statutes stipulates that UEFA clubs must play all matches in the UEFA competition in line with the fair play principles as provided for by the UEFA Statutes.

Stadium:

            The stadium should fulfil the established structural criteria for a class 4 stadium in line with the Stadium Infrastructure Regulations by UEFA (EUFA 2015).

Pitches

            The size of the pitch should be 105m * 68 m and should be in the best condition. It should come with an operational drainage system.  Provision for pitch cover and pitch heating ought to be provided should climatic conditions demand this. This is in order to ensure that the match takes place on any given match date. Otherwise, the club incurs the travel, lodging and boarding costs of the visiting club (EUFA 2015). In case of natural pitches, UEFA stipulates that the grass, in principle exceed 30mm. The height of the grass on training session should be the same as that on the match day.

            A club can only change from artificial turf to natural grass or vice-versa, only once per season, usually at the completion of the group stage. Moreover, the club should ensure that the request to change the pitch reaches the UEFA administration by 1 December latest, and that the new pitch is ready one month before the knock-out stage or round of 16 (EUFA 2015). The club must communicate its pitch-watering schedule with FIFA and pitch watering should ideally be completed 1 hour prior to kick-off.

Artificial turf

            Save for the final, which UEFA stipulates must be played on natural grass, all other matches in the competition can be played on artificial turf as stipulated by the Stadium Infrastructure Regulations set by UEFA (EUFA 2015). The club is also required to have technical facilities such as first-class dressing rooms for referees and teams, medical rooms for referees and players a doping control room among others. 

Power and utilities

            The home club must provide power, water, lightning and general unities at the stadium at no cost. Furthermore, clubs are required to provide defined levels of power for specific broadcast facilities like indoor studies, commentary positions, pitch view studios and LED boards, et cetera. There ought to be a backup power source at the stadium upon which the club's LED systems run, and the one provided by UEFA (EUFA 2015). The club should also provide floodlighting services at a minimum level of 1500 Eh. There should also be backup floodlight power with a minimum illuminance of 800 Eh.

Ground rules and directional signage

            Section 2 of the UEFA Statutes demands that clubs provides any signage needed to assist supporters of the visiting club in the preferred language. Ground rules must also be set to such as prohibited items. The club is also required to install a modern mechanical counting and access control system to facilitate in the provision of analysis of data in real-time on spectator attendance and crowd flows. The stadium must also be equipped with permanent television surveillance systems both outside and inside, and an operational PA (public address) system (EUFA 2015). There should also be videoboards and scoreboards installed in the stadium to display match information. More importantly, the UEFA offices, commentary position and UEFA delegates’ room must all be equipped with reliable telephone, radio and internet frequencies.

Conclusion and Recommendations

            Competing in the UEFA European Champions League would be a major achievement for Genk, having reached this milestone only once in their lifetime in the 2002-03 season. To do so, the club needs to finish the current season in a top 3 position at the minimum, in which case it would qualify for the play-offs. More importantly, the club management must ensure that the stadium, power and utilities, pitch, floodlighting, technical facilities and stadium infrastructure all comply with UEFA specifications as spelt out in its Statutes. There is need to ensure that all entry documents have been completed before the deadlines set by UEFA, and that the compliance standards are issued by laboratories accredited by UEFA.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reference List

UEFA (2015). Regulations of the UEFA Champions League 2015-18 Cycle. [online]. Available at: http://www.uefa.com/MultimediaFiles/Download/Regulations/uefaorg/Regulations/02/23/57/51/2235751_DOWNLOAD.pdf

(Accessed 12 March 2016)

UEFA (2015). UEFA Champion’s League Club Manual 2015/16. Version 1.0

UEFA (2016). KRC Genk. [online]. Available at: 

http://www.uefa.com/teamsandplayers/teams/club=61582/profile/index.html

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