SECTION 4 – CLUBS
Registration of Ground
The dimension of the field of play for all League organised matches shall be as follows:
Clubs must register their pitch dimensions with The League prior to the start of each Season. It will be misconduct on the part of a Club to alter its pitch dimensions during a Season without the prior written consent of The League, which consent will only be given in exceptional circumstances. The League may at any time require a Club to submit a report from a qualified independent source certifying the pitch dimensions.
Each Club shall take all reasonable steps to maintain its pitch in good order. The League may require a Club to take such steps as it shall specify if not satisfied that an adequate standard of pitch is being maintained, including but not limited to The League commissioning an independent report on the state of the pitch by a Club, the cost of such independent report to be borne by the Club concerned.
Ground sharing will only be approved at the discretion of the Board.
Except in cases where a Club seeks consent to enter into a ground-sharing agreement with another Club, it shall be a condition of any such consent that the ground-sharing agreement shall contain provision to ensure that:
the playing of any of the Club’s first team matches will always take precedence over the activities of the other party to the agreement; and
the Club shall have the ability to postpone other activities scheduled to take place on the pitch in the immediately preceding 48 hour period where in the opinion of the Club, acting reasonably, there is a risk that such activity may result in the subsequent postponement or abandonment of a match to be played under the auspices of The League.
Each Club shall register its ground with The League and no Club shall remove to another ground (whether on a temporary or a permanent basis) without first obtaining the written consent of the Board, such consent not to be unreasonably withheld and the Board shall be entitled, if granting consent, to impose such conditions as it deems appropriate in all the circumstances.
In considering whether to give any consent to a permanent relocation, the Board shall have regard to all the circumstances of the case (including, but not limited to the factors set out in this Regulation 13.7) and shall not grant consent unless it is reasonably satisfied that such consent:
would be consistent with the objects of The League as set out in the Memorandum of Association;
would be appropriate having in mind the relationship (if any) between the locality with which by its name or otherwise the applicant Club is traditionally associated and that in which such Club proposes to establish its ground;
would not to any material extent adversely affect such Club’s Officials, players, supporters, shareholders, sponsors and others having an interest in its activities;
would not have a material adverse effect on visiting Clubs;
would not to any material extent adversely affect Clubs having their registered grounds in the immediate vicinity of the proposed location; and
would enhance the reputation of The League and promote the game of association football generally.
The Club must disclose, as soon as practicable, plans and details of any proposed future move to a new stadium.
Subject to any dispensations granted by the Board, a Club shall either own its ground or have a legally enforceable agreement with its ground’s owner for its use by the Club, expiring not earlier than the end of the current Season.
Each Club shall, provide The League with full copies of such documentation as The League may reasonably require to demonstrate the Club’s ability to play fixtures at its ground. By way of example, and without limitation, this may include copies of HM Land Registry entries, copy leases, any licence to occupy and any sub-leases or licence relating thereto. The League shall maintain a register of Clubs and the basis upon which that Club occupies its ground.
Without prejudice to the provisions of Regulation 13.6, a Club shall forthwith notify The League of any proposed change in its circumstances relating to the occupation of its ground. By way of example, and without limitation, a proposed change may include a sale of any freehold interest (with or without subsequent leaseback) or any surrender or variation of a lease or licence.
No League Match shall take place at any stadium covered or partially covered without the prior written consent of The League after full consultation with all Clubs.
Any Club proposing to cover or partially cover its stadium shall be required to submit outline plans and the copy of the planning application prior to such planning application being submitted to the appropriate statutory authority.
Synthetic or Artificial Grass Surfaces
No League Matches shall be played on an Artificial Surface.
Where an Applicant Club (as defined in Regulation 7.1) has a pitch constructed from an Artificial Surface, that Club must ensure that the Artificial Surface is removed and will be replaced by a grass pitch prior to the date on which the Board considers the application for the transfer of membership from the relegated Club to the Applicant Club (as determined in accordance with the Articles of Association).
Clubs’ Financial Records
All Clubs shall keep their financial records in accordance with the provisions of The Football Association Rules and The League may arrange for an inspection of all such books.
Each Club shall submit a copy of its Annual Accounts (as defined in Regulation 16.3 below) to The League, but in any event:
by no later than 1st March following the end of the financial year to which those Annual Accounts relate (in the case of a Championship Club); or
by no later than the date on which the Club is required to file its accounts at Companies House (in case of League One and League Two Clubs).
For the purposes of this Regulation 16, Annual Accounts means the annual accounts in respect of the Club’s most recent financial year (such accounts to be prepared and audited in accordance with applicable legal and regulatory requirements) together with a copy of the directors’ report for that year and a copy of the auditor’s report (if any) on those accounts.
If the Club considers it appropriate, or The League so requests, the Annual Accounts required to be submitted in accordance with Regulation 16.2 shall relate to the Group of which the Club is a member.
Where a Club relies on any statutory and/or regulatory exemptions such that the Annual Accounts are either abbreviated in nature or unaudited the Club shall within 14 days of any request provide to The League such additional information as The League deems appropriate. Any information request will ordinarily be limited to information that would be disclosed if the Club was required to prepare annual accounts under the provisions of Section 396 of the 2006 Act and The Large and Medium-sized Companies and Groups (Accounts and Reports) Regulations 2008 (as may be amended or replaced from time to time) other than the requirement to have an audit report prepared.
The League shall have the powers set out in Regulation 16.7 if:
the Club has failed to submit to The League the Annual Accounts as required by Regulation 16.2;
the Club has failed to submit to The League Annual Accounts for the Group where requested by The League in accordance with Regulation 16.4; and/or
the Club has failed to submit to The League any additional information as required by Regulation 16.5, to The League’s satisfaction.
The powers referred to in Regulation 16.6 are:
to require the Club to provide such further information as The League shall determine and for such period as it shall determine; and 16.7.2 subject the Club to a registration embargo such that it shall not be permitted to register any Player with that Club without the prior written consent of The League until such time as the breach identified by Regulation 16.6 has been rectified in its entirety to The League’s satisfaction.
Regulations 16.1 to 16.4 and Regulations 16.20 to 16.22 inclusive shall apply to all Clubs. Regulations 16.5 to 16.7 inclusive shall not apply to Championship Clubs and the remainder of this Regulation 16 shall apply to Championship Clubs in substitution of Regulations 16.5 to 16.7. To enable The League to apply Regulations 16.21 and 16.22 to all Clubs (as opposed to just Championship Clubs) each reference to ‘Championship Club’ in Regulations 16.16 to 16.20 inclusive shall be deemed to read ‘Club’ for that purpose (but not otherwise).
The Annual Accounts for a Championship Club must, in addition to the requirements of Regulation 16.3:
be accompanied by an auditor’s report and a directors’ report;
include separate disclosure within the balance sheet or notes to the Annual Accounts, or by way of supplementary information separately reported on by its auditor by way of procedures specified by The League, of the total sums payable and receivable in respect of Transfer Fees, Compensation Fees, Loan Fees and any subsequent payments which become due under the terms of any transfer; and
include a breakdown within the profit and loss account or the notes to the accounts, or by way of supplementary information separately reported on by its auditor by way of procedures specified by The League, of revenue in appropriate categories such as gate receipts, sponsorship and advertising, broadcasting rights, commercial income and other income.
If the auditor’s report on the accounts submitted pursuant to Regulation 16.9 contains anything other than an unqualified opinion without modification, the Championship Club shall at The League’s request submit such further documentary evidence as The League shall require (including but not limited to Future Financial Information).
If the Annual Accounts of a Championship Club (or, if applicable, the Group) submitted pursuant to Regulation 16.2 (and 16.4 as applicable) are prepared to a date prior to 30th November in the Season of submission, such Club or Group shall by the following 31st March submit to The League interim accounts covering the period commencing from its accounting reference date and ending on a date between the following 30th November and 1st March.
The interim accounts shall:
comprise a balance sheet, a profit and loss account, a cash flow statement and relevant explanatory notes;
be prepared in accordance with the accounting principles adopted in the preparation of the Championship Club’s Annual Accounts;
be presented in a similar format to the Annual Accounts including as regards the matters set out in Regulation 16.9;
include in the profit and loss account and cashflow statement comparative figures for the same period in the preceding year;
include a balance sheet as of the end of the preceding financial year;
be approved in writing by the board of directors of the company to which they relate; and
be reviewed or audited in accordance with applicable regulatory requirements.
Regulation 16.10 shall apply to the interim accounts (with appropriate modification) if the auditor has issued anything other than an unqualified opinion without modification on them.
Each Club must by 7th April in each Season provide evidence to The League to confirm that, subject to Regulation 16.15.2:
it has satisfied all Transfer Fee, Compensation Fee, Loan Fee or subsequent payments which had by the 31st December (Relevant Date) become due under the terms of any transfer; and
it had as at the Relevant Date paid all sums due and payable to or in respect of an employee employed during the relevant calendar year (including national insurance contributions and income tax deducted under the ‘pay as you earn’ system).
For the purpose of Regulation 16.14:
‘employee’ means any of the following:
the Official responsible for running the daily business of the Championship Club with the support of a sufficient number of administrative staff in suitable and appropriately equipped offices, who can be contacted during normal office hours;
the Official who shall hold a nationally recognised qualification as an accountant or auditor, or who has sufficient experience to demonstrate their competence as such, who shall be responsible for the Championship Club’s finances;
the press or media officer (holding a nationally recognised qualification in journalism or who has sufficient experience to demonstrate their competence as a press or media officer);
the Academy Manager (appointed in accordance with Youth Development Rule 58);
the Team Doctor (appointed in accordance with Regulation 35.3);
the Senior Therapist (appointed in accordance with Regulation 35.4); and
the Championship Club’s safety officer;
an amount overdue as at the Relevant Date shall not be treated as such if by the following 31st March it has been paid or the date for payment has been extended by means of a written agreement with the creditor or it is the subject of current litigation or arbitration proceedings or has been submitted to a dispute resolution procedure of The League, the Football Association, the Premier League, UEFA or FIFA.
By 31st March in each Season, each Championship Club shall submit to The League in respect of itself (or if the Championship Club considers it appropriate or The League so requests in respect of the Group of which it is a member) future financial information (‘Future Financial Information’) comprising projected profit and loss accounts, cash flow, balance sheets and relevant explanatory notes commencing from its accounting reference date or, if it has submitted interim accounts pursuant to Regulation 16.11, from the date to which those interim accounts were prepared and expiring on the next accounting reference date after the end of the following Season. The projected profit and loss accounts, cash flow and balance sheets shall be prepared at a maximum of six-monthly intervals.
The Future Financial Information shall:
be prepared in accordance with the accounting principles adopted in the preparation of the Championship Club’s annual accounts (except where the accounting principles and policies are to be changed in the subsequent annual accounts, in which case the new accounting principles and policies should be followed);
be approved in writing by the board of directors of the company to which they relate;
include in the explanatory notes thereto principal assumptions and risks; and
include for comparison profit and loss accounts for the period covered by the Annual Accounts and interim accounts submitted pursuant to Regulation 16.2 and 16.11, a forecast for the current financial year and a balance sheet as at the date of the interim accounts submitted pursuant to Regulation 16.11.
Each Club relegated into the Championship from the Premier League shall by 30th June in the years of its relegation submit to The League:
copies of the documents and other information that it would have been required to submit to The League pursuant to Regulations 16.2, 16.11 and 16.14 in that calendar year had it then been a Championship Club;
Future Financial Information commencing from 1st August in the year of its promotion and expiring at the Club’s next accounting reference date after the end of the following season; and
any further documentary evidence required pursuant to Regulations 16.10 and 16.13. Each Club promoted into the Championship from League One shall comply with this Regulation 16.18 by 31st July in the year of its promotion.
The League shall have the powers set out in Regulation 16.20 if:
the Championship Club has failed to submit to The League annual accounts as required by Regulation 16.2 and 16.3; or
the Championship Club has failed to submit to The League interim accounts as required by Regulation 16.11; or
the Championship Club has failed to submit to The League the Future Financial Information as required by Regulation 16.16; or
The League has asked the Championship Club to submit further documentary evidence pursuant to Regulation 16.10 or Regulation 16.13 and the Championship Club has failed to do so; or
the Championship Club has failed to provide the evidence set out in Regulation 16.14 or The League is satisfied that (subject to Regulation 16.15) sums of the kind set out in Regulation 16.14 were overdue as at the preceding Relevant Date;
the auditor’s report on the Annual Accounts or interim accounts of the Championship Club or the Group submitted pursuant to Regulation 16.2 (and Regulation 16.4 as applicable) and Regulation 16.11 respectively contains anything other than an unqualified opinion without modification; or
a newly promoted or relegated Championship Club has failed to submit to The League the financial information as required by Regulation 16.18;
as a result of its review of all the documents and information submitted by the Championship Club pursuant to Regulations 16.2 to 16.18, and having taken into account any failure of the Championship Club to supply any such documents or information, in its reasonable opinion it determines that the Championship Club will not over the course of the following Season be able to:
pay its liabilities to the creditors listed in Article 48.1 of The League’s Articles of Association and to any foreign Transferor Club (in so far as they are or will become creditors of the Championship Club) and to its employees as they fall due; or
fulfil its obligations to play fixtures under the jurisdiction of The League; or
be able to provide such rights, facilities and services as are required to enable The League to fulfil its commercial and broadcasting contracts.
The powers referred to in Regulation 16.19 are:
to require the Championship Club to submit, agree and adhere to a budget which shall include, but not be limited to, Transfer Fees, Compensation Fees, Loan Fees or subsequent payments which become due under the terms of any transfer, players’ remuneration and fees payable to any Intermediary;
to require the Championship Club to provide such further information as The League shall determine and for such period as it shall determine;
to refuse any application by that Championship Club to register any Player or any new contract of an existing Player of that Club if The League reasonably deems that this is necessary in order to secure that the Championship Club complies with its obligations listed in Regulations 16.19.8(a) to 16.19.8(c).
If any Person proposes to acquire Control of a Club:
the Club shall submit to The League up to date Future Financial Information prepared to take into account the consequences of the change of Control on the Club’s future financial position as far in advance of the change of Control as reasonably possible or, if such submission is not reasonably practicable prior to the change of Control, no later than 10 Normal Working Days thereafter; and 16.21.2 The League shall have the power to require the Person who proposes to acquire or has acquired Control to appear before it and to provide evidence of the source and sufficiency of any funds which that Person proposes to invest in or otherwise make available to the Club.
In relation to any proposed acquisition of Control of a Club by a Person, The League shall have the powers set out in Regulation 16.20 and/or the ability to impose such other conditions as in each case it may determine, in order to monitor and/or ensure compliance with Regulations 16 to 19, 21, 22 (including Appendix 3) and 102 to 112 inclusive (and their successor or replacement provisions).
Current HMRC Debt. Any Club which has not within 28 (twenty eight) days of the relevant Due Date paid to HMRC the amounts due to be paid to HMRC to discharge:
the Club’s full liability for PAYE & NIC due in respect of any and all employees or former employees of the Club for the immediately preceding payment period; and/or
the Club’s full liability for PAYE & NIC which becomes due as a result of an assessment issued by HMRC, subject to clause 17.8 below, (each a ‘Default Event’) shall report the Default Event to The League within 2 working days of the Default Event.
Reporting Default Events,. When a Club reports a Default Event to The League it shall at the same time provide to The League details of any and all amounts due to HMRC from the Club in respect of PAYE & NIC, together with the periods to which they relate.
Consequences of a Default Event. Without prejudice to the general position (pursuant to Regulation 43.4) that all registrations must be approved by The League, a Club which is subject to a Default Event shall be subject to a registration embargo such that it shall not be permitted to register any Player with that Club without the prior written consent of The League for the period that the Club is subject to a Default Event.
Failure to Notify a Default Event. A Club which fails to report a Default Event shall be guilty of misconduct and shall be referred to a Disciplinary Commission in accordance with Section 7 of these Regulations.
Provision of Authority. Each Club shall provide to The League, not later than 31st May prior to the commencement of a Season, (and in any event within seven days of any request for a further authority from The League), an original, irrevocable authority (which shall not be time constrained) in the form prescribed by The League and signed by a director and the company secretary of the Club, addressed to HMRC authorising HMRC to provide to The League information relating to amounts of PAYE & NIC payable, paid and overdue from the Club to HMRC from time to time including, by way of example and without limitation, the amount of Arrears (if any), the existence of and current position in respect of any Time to Pay Agreement and if a Club suffers a Default Event (‘Authority’). The League shall be entitled to forward the Authority to HMRC without having to seek the consent of the Club.
The Board shall have the power to suspend any Club which, not later than 31st May prior to the Commencement of the following Season (including, for the avoidance of doubt, those Clubs entering The League by way of promotion from the National League or relegation from the Premier League for the following Season) or within seven days of a request, fails to provide to The League the Authority in the required form. A suspended Club shall not play in:
any League Match;
any Football Association Cup Match;
any EFL Cup Match;
any EFL Trophy Match; and/or
any other match conducted or controlled by The League and in which it would otherwise be eligible to compete.
For the purposes of the League Competition, the Board shall have the power to determine how the cancellation of a League Match caused by the suspension of one of the Clubs, which should have participated in it, shall be treated.
Disputed Amounts. Any amounts which HMRC claims to be due to it, for example by way of an assessment, but which have been formally contested by the Club shall not be considered as due to HMRC for the purposes of this Regulation 17 until such time as a final determination is made on HMRC’s claim.
Information provided by a Club and/or HMRC in relation to any Arrears shall only be made available to senior members of The League’s staff and the independent Chairman (as described in Article 17.1.1) and shall not be disclosed to the Board generally, provided always that The League shall be entitled to report the happening of a Default Event to the Board for the purposes of enforcing Regulation 17.3 (Consequences of a Default Event).
Financial Fair Play
Without prejudice to the foregoing provisions, The League and Clubs agree to actively work to introduce measures appropriate to each Division to promote financial fair play within The League, with the objective of:
improving the economic and financial capability of Clubs;
increasing the transparency and credibility of Clubs;
placing the necessary importance on the protection of creditors by ensuring that Clubs settle their liabilities with Players, HMRC and other Clubs (or clubs) punctually;
introducing more discipline and rationality in Club football finances;
encouraging Clubs to operate on the basis of their own revenues;
encouraging responsible spending for the long-term benefit of football; and
protecting the long-term viability and sustainability of League football, the ‘Financial Fair Play Objectives’.
Any Division may propose the introduction of divisional rules (‘Divisional Fair Play Rules’)aimed at achieving the Financial Fair Play Objectives provided that the Board, acting reasonably, is satisfied that the proposed Fair Play Rules will not have a disproportionately detrimental effect on the financial interests of the other Divisions or The League as a whole.
The proposed Divisional Fair Play Rules will be considered by the Board and if approved by it, such proposed Divisional Fair Play Rules shall be put before the members of the relevant Division on not less than 7 clear days’ notice. The proposed Divisional Fair Play Rules shall not be adopted unless approved by 75% of the votes cast by those Member Clubs who are members of that Division present and voting either in person or by proxy.
If the proposed Divisional Fair Play Rules are not approved by the Board, the Division may submit the proposal to The League in general meeting. Such proposal may be adopted by a simple majority of the Member Clubs of The League present and voting either in person or by proxy and at the same time by 75% of the votes cast by those Member Clubs which are then in membership of the Division making the proposal present and voting either in person or by proxy.
The adopted Divisional Fair Play Rules will take effect as a Regulation for the following Seasons and shall be binding upon the Clubs in the relevant Division.
Once adopted, the Divisional Fair Play Rules may only be amended or removed by following the procedures set out in Regulations 18.2 to 18.5 above as if references to proposed Divisional Fair Play Rules were replaced by references to the proposed amendments.
The Divisional Fair Play Rules applicable to each Division are set out in Appendix 5.
The League shall be entitled to publicly confirm whether a Club is subject to a registration embargo pursuant to the operation of any Divisional Fair Play Rule.
Assignment of Central Distributions
Subject always to the provisions or Regulation 19.2 below, any Club that enters into an assignment of some or all of that Club’s entitlement to distributions from the Pool Account (as defined in the Articles of Association) (or any other form of security or arrangement of similar effect) (‘Assignment’) shall notify The League in writing not later than 24 hours after the date of that Assignment. Any Club that enters into an Assignment shall be subject to a registration embargo for the Effective Period of any Assignment such that it shall not be permitted to register any Player with that Club without the prior written consent of The League. For the purposes of this Regulation, ‘Effective Period’ shall mean the period commencing with the date on which The League is notified (or otherwise becomes aware) of the Assignment, and ending on the date on which The League is notified that the Assignment has been finally released.
Regulation 19.1 shall not apply to any Assignment which constitutes part of a fixed and floating charge over the entirety of the Club’s assets and undertaking on usual commercial terms and in respect of which The League is not required to pay any part of the Club’s entitlement to distributions from the Pool Account to the holder of that security.
All Clubs must publish a Customer Charter, and provide financial reporting and accountability as requested by The League.
A copy of the customer charter and any amendments made thereto shall be furnished to The League by each Club and shall be made available to the public through all usual Club publications, the ticket office and their web site.
Each Club shall:
submit a charter report by 30th June annually each year to The League. The report shall detail how each of the policies outlined in the charter have been implemented and the extent to which each has been achieved; and
comply promptly with any request for information made by The League.
Each Club shall comply promptly and in full with any request for information made by the Independent Football Ombudsman (or such other body as notified by the League from time to time as having responsibility for adjudicating on disputes between Clubs and their supporters).
The League may report to The Independent Football Ombudsman, and undertakes to disseminate best practice for the benefit of all Clubs.
Each Club shall appoint a supporter liaison officer who shall:
have responsibility for the delivery of the Club’s policy with regard to its stakeholders insofar as that policy concerns supporters;
act as a point of contact for supporters; and
liaise regularly with the Club’s management (including, without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, on safety and security-related issues).
Undertakings to be given by Club Officials
All Clubs must incorporate in any contracts of employment (or other contract for services) with their Officials and Players:
an undertaking on the part of the Official or Player not to bring The League or any Club into disrepute;
an undertaking on the part of the Official or Player not to do anything or omit to do anything which will cause the Club to be in breach of the Laws of the Game, the Football Association Rules, the rules of the Premier League, these Regulations or the Articles of Association; and
an acknowledgement that they are subject to the jurisdiction of The League and Football Association.
Notwithstanding the provisions of Regulation 21.1, all Officials and Players shall by virtue of their fulfilment of those roles be deemed to have given to The League:
an undertaking to The League not to bring The League or any Club, into disrepute;
an undertaking not to do anything or omit to do anything which will cause a Club to be in breach of the Laws of the Game, the Football Association Rules, these Regulations or the Articles of Association; and
an acknowledgement that they are subject to the jurisdiction of The League and Football Association.
Changes of Directors at Clubs
All Clubs must ensure that they, and where appropriate any Relevant Person (as that term is defined in Appendix 3) and other Officials (as appropriate) of that Club, comply with the obligations of the Owners’ and Directors’ Test.
Within fourteen days of the removal of any Relevant Person, written notice thereof, together with such details as are required to be filed with the Registrar of Companies (if any), shall be provided to The League.
Club / Employees Relationships
No Club shall take any steps (either directly or indirectly through any third party, including the making of statements to the media) to induce or attempt to induce another Club’s employee to terminate his contract of employment with that other Club, whether or not such termination constitutes a breach of that contract.
No Club shall (either directly or indirectly through any third party) make contact with or enter into negotiations relating to the employment of another Club’s employee.
The only exceptions to this Regulation are:
where the Club has undertaken a bona fide advertising process for recruitment of individuals to any role(s) and another Club (or club’s) employee has responded to that advertisement. In such circumstances the Club shall be permitted to interview that applicant (unless they are already fulfilling any of the roles listed in Regulation 23.4 below, in which case permission must be obtained in accordance with Regulation 23.3.2 before selecting for interview) but must not make any offer of employment or otherwise advise the applicant that it wishes to make such an offer without first obtaining permission in accordance with Regulation 23.3.2; or
where the Club has obtained the prior written permission of the Chairman (or in his absence, a director or the club secretary) of that other Club. Any such permission must set out any conditions attaching to it.
The roles referred to in Regulation 23.3.1 are any Player, Manager, assistant manager, head coach or other first team football coach (or any role equivalent to any of the foregoing) of a Club or Premier League club