The winds of change are blowing in the K League. This is the rise of K League club licensing. It’s an unfamiliar concept, but it’s surprisingly simple. K League club licensing refers to the process of obtaining a license to participate in the K League.
K League club licensing started with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). The AFC stipulated that ‘in 2012, it is mandatory to obtain an AFC club license to participate in the AFC Champions League (ACL)’.굿모닝토토 도메인
The criteria for obtaining a license varies. There are a number of qualifications that the AFC wants to see, such as having a specific person in charge of each task and having a youth team for each age group (U-10-U-12-U-15-U-18).
K League teams only needed to obtain a license to compete in the ACL. However, with the exception of Sangju Sangsang (now Gimcheon Sangsang), 15 K League teams were ready to go, obtaining AFC licenses.
Change came in 2015. It was decided that it would be more efficient for the league’s governing body to manage AFC Club Licensing. As a result, AFC Club Licensing was transferred from the Korea Football Association (KFA) to the Federation.
The KFA immediately made club licensing mandatory. It is no longer an option, but a ‘must’. In 2015, K League 1 (first division) teams were eligible, and the following year it was expanded to include K League 2 (second division) clubs.
This year saw another change in the system, this time due to a change in the way the ACL was organized. Until now, the AFC operated the ACL under the “spring and fall” system, which is the same as the K League. However, starting this season, the AFC has adopted the “Autumn-Chinese New Year” (Fall-Spring) system, which is mainly used in European soccer.
Since the K League was held during the same period as the ACL, the federation operated K League teams based on ‘AFC Club Licensing’. However, as the competition schedule changed, the deadline for the documentation for AFC Club Licensing changed, and the same could not be applied to the K League.
In the end, the Federation introduced ‘K League Club Licensing’, which is separated from the existing ‘AFC Club Licensing’ into ▲AFC Club License ▲K League 1 License ▲K League 2 License. In order to participate in the K League 1 or K League 2, teams must acquire the corresponding license, and teams that participate in the ACL must also acquire an AFC license separately.
There are five main criteria for club licensing. There are five main criteria for club licensing: sports, facilities, finance, legal, and human resources and administration.
The criteria are categorized into A, B, C, and D levels. Grade A is the essential condition that must be met for licensing. If you fail to meet any of them, you will not be able to obtain a K League 1, K League 2, or AFC license. Grade B is a condition that is not mandatory but may result in sanctions if not met.
Grade C is a recommendation. Newly implemented rules or criteria that could be elevated to a B level in the future are usually placed in a C level.
Due to the increasing importance of club licensing, the Federation has created a Club Licensing Team within the Secretariat. This is to make the licensing process more systematic than before.
The introduction of K League club licensing is not a pleasant situation for clubs. The previous process of acquiring a license required a lot of work, including paperwork. However, now that the process is carried out individually, there are more things to be concerned about.
An official from the federation said, “Licensing is a guide to give each club a direction. It means to develop together by meeting the minimum qualifications to compete in each competition. It’s not a reprimand that says, ‘If you don’t meet the conditions, we won’t let you play in the tournament,’ but rather, ‘Let’s improve this part and create a better environment.
According to a federation official, a particular emphasis of the K League 2 license is the size of the secretariat that handles the administration of each club and the various facilities. The problem of insufficient manpower and facilities across the K League is not new. There is also a funding problem, but most do not feel the need to improve the current situation. The role of licensing in this situation is to make the administrators of the clubs think, “This is what we’ve always done,” and to make them realize that they should at least have these conditions.
Each country has its own unique environment. There are various cultural considerations, including external factors such as climate and league characteristics. Through club licensing, K League clubs can set standards that are reasonably suited to the Korean context, rather than blindly adopting foreign standards.
‘K League Club Licensing’ has now taken its first steps and is making progress in various areas. Recently, the deadline for replacing a K League manager has been extended to December 31 if there are five or fewer games remaining in the K League, based on the expiration of 50 days after the vacancy occurs. In addition, the federation has expanded the scope of medical examinations to include club staff, whereas the previous AFC only required first-team players and youth players to undergo medical examinations.
The federation is also looking to various overseas licenses for guidance on the right path forward. “Qatar is also licensing marketing and ESG (environmental, social, and governance) management,” said a federation official. Japan also licenses from the first to third division, and Germany and UEFA are good role models. We will build our own licensing system based on theirs,” he emphasized.