The attached circular is an important one. Via this circular the FIFA reminds football associations to observe the following guidelines and principles when they proceed to categorise their affiliated clubs for the purpose of training compensation:
' Category 1 (top level, e.g. high quality training centre):
- all first-division clubs of member associations investing on average a similar amount in training players.
Category 2 (still professional but at a lower level):
- all second-division clubs of members associations in category 1 and all first division clubs in all other countries with professional football.
- all third division clubs of member associations in category 1, and all second division clubs in all other countries with professional football.
- all fourth and lower division clubs of member associations in category 1, all third and lower division clubs in all other countries with professional and all clubs in countries with only amateur football.'
These guidelines are not new:
> 'The basis for assigning the various clubs to the different training categories was first established in the Regulations Governing the Application of the 2001 edition of the Regulations for the Status and Transfer of Players, and was once again brought to the attention of member associations by means of circular no. 799 of 19 March 2002.'
Back to the guidelines for a sec. When we read the guidelines they seem to make perfect sense in case the FIFA has marked an FA as an FA with category I and II clubs, but how should they be interpreted in case an FA has been assigned only category III and IV?
The system of the guidelines is appears to be as follows:
- The professional clubs playing in the highest league of a FA have to categorized in the highest Category that has been assigned to the FA;
- The professional clubs playing in the second highest league have to be categorized in the second highest Category assigned to the FA;
- The professional clubs playing in the third highest league have to be categorized in the third highest Category assigned to the FA, and
- The professional clubs and amateur clubs playing in the fourth and lower leagues have to be categorized in Category IV .
In case an FA only has category III and IV assigned to them, it would mean that the clubs playing in the highest league should be categorized as category III, and all other clubs as category IV.
Mind you this is not an official FIDA explanation but the explanation of the editor. Another explanation doesn't seem to make sense, but feel free to comment.
Are these guidelines rigid or is there some flexibility?
'There is some degree of flexibility in these guidelines. For example a club in a lower division may be placed with clubs of a higher if it makes similar investments to those clubs in training young players.'
This example is mentioned in the attached circular. Beside this upgrading of a club the text of 'Category I' appears to create the option of downgrading in case a club doesn't invest 'on average a similar amount in training players'. These upgrading and downgrading exceptions make sense if we keep in mind that clubs promote and demote, such a change in league level doesn't justify perse an immediate change in categorisation. It make sense to see if the demotion or promotion has a long term impact on the investment in youth education.
So there is space for sense and good judgement. Different is the situation where a FA assigns a club to a lower category than would be justified based on their professional status. For a club it can be interesting be assigned to a lower category just to avoid paying training compensation or to pay lesser training compensation. In other words an FA should have solid reasons for downgrading a club to a lower category than indicated in the guidelines.
Clubs have to take in account that in case they are a 'downgraded club', that the club claiming training compensation can challenge this 'downgrading' and ask for training compensation according to the guidelines.
Please click the attachment hereunder for the full text of the circular.