From mid-March to mid-May, the 36 professional clubs in Germany’s top two divisions are competing for titles, promotion, European qualification and in some cases survival.

However, while the business end of the season on the pitch is in full flow, off it, the pieces are already being put in place for the upcoming campaign.

Accordingly, bundesliga.com has outlined how the licensing process works in Germany and what the clubs have to look out for when applying for a licence.

A contractual agreement

The licensing process does not exclusively pertain to assessing economic performance, but instead outlines a range of requirements that encompass the sporting, financial, legal, administrative, personnel, infrastructural and media-technical proficiencies clubs must fulfil in order to receive a licence.

Clubs would not be eligible to feature in the Bundesliga or Bundesliga 2 without this licence, which is awarded as part of a contractual agreement between the club and League Association and is valid for one season. The Bundesliga’s licensing process, self-imposed by the clubs as part of their league statutes, ensures that no club from the top two tiers would find themselves in a situation of being unable to complete a league campaign due to financial deficiencies.

"It only provides advantages for the clubs and the Bundesliga," explained the Deutsche Fussball Liga GmbH’s (DFL) Director of Licensing, Werner Möglich. "The clubs are financially stable, the stadiums are maintained in very good condition, every team develops young talent, members of the press have ideal working conditions, and - administratively - the clubs are staffed and structured exceptionally well."

The process

Every year, the deadline for submission of the clubs’ relevant licensing documents is 15:30CET/14:30GMT on 15 March unless that day falls on a weekend, at which point the deadline is postponed until the following Monday. The applications will then be assessed by licensing managers, who boast expertise pertaining to the various criteria, and they then present a recommendation to the DFL hierarchy. The initial decision as to whether a club is granted or denied a licence is made in mid-April, with all clubs being notified of the status of their application at the same time.

Should a licence be awarded, a club's authorisation to compete in the Bundesliga or Bundesliga 2 is guaranteed. However, those conditions must be maintained throughout the season, otherwise the club in question could face retrospective punishment in the form of a monetary fine or points deduction.

In the case of a club being denied a licence, there are two remaining opportunities for them to lodge an appeal against the decision before resubmitting their revised application to the DFL for re-evaluation. Should neither of those appeals result in a licence being awarded, the club’s sole option would be to lodge an appeal with the Court of Arbitration.

Clubs are also required to submit their financial records for the previous financial year during the league campaign on 31 October in order to prove their economic efficiency.