Club Licensing System

The club licensing system is said to have originated from a system established by the German Football Federation to assess the eligibility of clubs to participate in league matches. Based on this system, the UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) introduced a screening system for clubs participating in the UEFA Champions League, which succeeded in increasing the value of the competition, and the “club licensing system” for screening clubs participating in the competition spread around the world, and the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) established the club licensing system, the system will also be introduced in Asia. In Asia, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) decided to introduce a club licensing system from the 2013 season as the standard for assessing qualification for the AFC Champions League, and has notified its member national football associations of the development of this system. In response to this, the Japan Football Association and the J.LEAGUE implemented the club licensing system for Japan from February 1, 2012.

Position of the Club Licensing System in Japan

Similar to Germany, the Japanese club licensing system is an eligibility requirements to participate in league matches, and clubs wishing to participate in the J.LEAGUE must meet the criteria set forth in order to receive a club license. Assessment for the issuance of a J1 Club License or J2 Club License is carried out in accordance with the “Grant Rules of J.LEAGUE Club Licensing”, which is a summary of the system presented by the AFC to each country with necessary modifications by the J.LEAGUE, while assessment for the issuance of a J3 Club License is based on the “Grant Rules of J3 Club Licensing” established by the J.LEAGUE. “Grant Rules of J3 Club Licensing” are not linked to the “Grant Rules of J.LEAGUE Club Licensing” and are independent of the AFC licensing system, however, they have been established to allow J3 clubs to be aware of the level of standards in the J1 and J2 club licensing systems to some extent, as they seek promotion to J2 in the future.

Purpose of the Club Licensing System

The objectives of the introduction of the club licensing system can be broadly summed up as “the sustained improvement in the standards of football in terms of competition and facilities” and “the stabilisation of the management of clubs and the improvement of their financial capacity and credibility”. It has been shown that football aims to be a more attractive sport and trusted by spectators, partners and other stakeholders.

Subject to J.LEAGUE Club Licensing

The J.LEAGUE Club Licensing System has “J1 Club Licensing” allows clubs to participate in the J1, J2, and J3 leagues, “J2 Club Licensing” allows clubs to participate in the J2 and J3 leagues, and “J3 Club Licensing” allows clubs to participate in J3 only. J1, J2, and J3 clubs can apply for any club license, but J .LEAGUE 100 YEAR VISION clubs can only apply for a J3 Club Licensing. J1 Club Licensing and J2 Club Licensing will be inspected by a third party organization (Club Licensing First Instance Body:FIB) independent of the J.LEAGUE , and depending on the results of the inspection, one of the licenses will be issued or not issued. Also, any club that is dissatisfied with the decision by the FIB and meets the requirements may appeal to a third party body (Club Licensing Appellate Body:AB), also independent of the J.LEAGUE. For J3 club licenses, on the other hand, the board of directors of the J-League discusses and decides whether or not to issue a license, and there is no system of appeal.