LONDON • All clubs participating in the Champions League receive a thick manual from Uefa, the European game's governing body, which lists the standards and regulations which must be adhered to.
Much as with the tournament itself, reaching the latter stages is a stern challenge and if English club Leicester City believed that qualification was the summit of their hard work, the past few days - before their first Champions League match ever at home - have demonstrated otherwise.
There are stipulations about the length of grass for pitches for Europe's top club competition, but did you know that the turf "should be cut in straight lines, across the width of the pitch, perpendicular to the touchline", and that, "no other form of grass cutting (diagonal, circles, etc) is permitted"?
Did you know that there must be nine bands of grass in each half of the pitch, the first four of which must be "exactly 5.5m wide"?
That, it transpires, is the simple stuff.
Goalkeepers' gloves cannot be sponsored or display charity logos, club names, emblems or a coat of arms.
FIGURING OUT THE 155-PAGE RULE BOOK
Free parking spaces in "prime position" for Uefa's partners.
People to carry the Champions League flag to the centre circle.
Match ball to be signed by the entire squad and coach.
Undershirts can have one club badge on the front and back, "centred in collar zone", while tracksuit tops can display national flags, although they "must be used in geometrical form and correct proportions".
Filbert Fox, Leicester's mascot, does not escape Uefa's scrutiny. Presumably, he could attend the game against Porto this morning (Singapore time), but "may only be slightly larger than a normal person", whatever that means, and "may not be visible during the match".
Filbert should "preferably" wear the team's Champions League kit, if one is manufactured with a tail-hole, and, if he behaves well and does not chase the chickens, he "may appear in the team photo (if approved by Uefa)".
The 30 people who are required to carry the Champions League flag to the centre circle before kick-off must be "between 14 and 20 years old and capable of performing the task". It must be carried off at 40 seconds past 7.42pm precisely.
There must be 22 player escorts to accompany the team, who must be "between seven and nine years old (and between 1.05 metres and 1.35 metres tall)". They require chaperones at all times, "except when the children are on the pitch".
There are rules for the media, over food and drink, for advertising, for the strength of the floodlights, the provision of 180 free car parking spaces "in prime position... for the use of Uefa and Champions League partners only", for 50 VIP tickets - "the best available seats in the stadium" - and 330 "first-class complimentary tickets".
Clubs must provide Uefa with one match ball "signed by the entire squad and coach" and "one key player's official home shirt".
There are several such requirements in Uefa's 155-page manual.
And, if there is any doubt about what all this is for, then the guide offers a simple, compelling explanation: "Exposure on a worldwide stage; a strong revenue stream; participation in a competition with a proven record of organisation and delivery at the highest level."
THE TIMES, LONDON