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Club Licensing

The UEFA club licensing system began as a set of criteria to be fulfilled in order for clubs to be eligible to participate in a UEFA club competition.

Since the first licences were granted in 2004 it has developed into much more than that, with club licensing being the focal point for national associations in their strategic plans for club development and improved governance, as well as it being embedded into how clubs operate and a fundamental consideration in the key decisions they take.

After a period of initial scepticism, stakeholders recognised the wide ranging benefits of running club licensing systems at national level. Increased professionalism, greater transparency, improved knowledge are just a few of the achievements that were made possible through the implementation of the scheme.

Nowadays over 1,500 clubs in Europe undergo club licensing on an annual basis. 51 of UEFA’s 54 member associations also apply some kind of club licensing and regulatory controls for the participation in domestic competitions.

In March 2006, the Irish Football Association Executive Committee asked the Club Licensing Committee to consider implementing its own Domestic Club Licensing scheme. The first Domestic licensing cycle was implemented during season 2007-08 for award of licences for season 2008-09.

In June 2010 the extension of the club licensing scheme to Championship clubs was endorsed by both the Premier League Committee and the Championship Committee. The requirements of a Championship Licence were approved by the IFA Executive Board in October 2010 and applied to and for clubs seeing promotion to the top division of Domestic Competition in Northern Ireland.

In June 2014, the member clubs of the Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL) agreed to the introduction of a mandatory licence for Championship 1 clubs during 2015-16 for the award of licences for season 2016-17 to coincide with the full implementation of the NIFL restructure to create a second senior tier of football in Northern Ireland.

In 2019, NIFL made the decision to extend mandatory licensing to all clubs participating within its third tier, the Premier Intermediate League (PIL). This was implemented for the first time during the 2020-21 season for the award of licences for season 2021-22.

In September 2022, NIFL further extended mandatory licensing to all clubs participating in the NIFL Women’s Premiership for the award of licences for season 2024.

Origins of the system

Key Developments

Licensing Criteria

Financial Sustainability

Club Licensing Quality Standard