The European Club Association (ECA) wants UEFA to expand the Champions League and Europa League, guaranteeing its members more games and more money.
The successor organisation to the G-14 group of Europe’s richest clubs, the ECA now represents more than 220 leading sides across the continent and its executive board has just completed a two-day meeting in Warsaw.
The board was updated on the work the ECA has been doing with UEFA on revamping the Europa League from 2021 onwards, and an agreement with European football’s governing body is expected in September.
The European Club Association (ECA) wants UEFA to expand the Champions League
That deal is likely to result in European club football’s secondary competition being opened to more teams, with each side getting more games.
But the ECA does not want to stop with the Europa League – it wants a bigger Champions League, too.
The reasons for this were spelled out by UEFA on Tuesday when it announced its projected revenue and prize fund for next season’s club competitions.
With a central pot of £1.75billion for the Champions League clubs to play for, a victory in Madrid next spring would be worth more than £100million to a British club.
Any change to the Champions League format will not come until the 2024/25 season, but the fact this idea is under discussion again will only lead to more speculation that the richest clubs will not be happy until they only have to play each other without having to worry about smaller domestic rivals in national leagues.
An ECA statement said: ‘The model that emerges for the UEFA club competitions post-2024 should aim to strengthen the value of the competitions, while increasing the overall number of participating clubs and a greater certainty of matches for all.’
More European club football was not the only topic on the agenda in the Polish capital, though, as the clubs also discussed another of their favourite topics: how much international football is currently played.
A victory in Madrid next spring would be worth more than £100million to a British club
The ECA board said the existing agreement with FIFA on the international fixture calendar ‘needs modernising with special focus required around reviewing the total number of games, release periods, confederation tournaments (dates and frequency), and a re-balancing between European and domestic club competitions’.
It added that a ‘new model’ must reduce the ‘current burden on players and adapt to the new realities of the club game’.
This should be taken as a clear warning to FIFA about its plans for an expanded Club World Cup and new, biennial Nations League tournament.
And just to underline the ‘club v country’ point, the board expressed its ‘strong dissatisfaction’ with a number of unspecified national associations for failing to observe the agreed mandatory rest period between May 21-27. Cameroon, China and Egypt are among eight countries that played friendlies during this period.
The ECA said failing to respect the rest period ‘constitutes abusive practice’ and any further violations would provoke a response from the clubs.
Commenting at the end of the meeting, ECA chairman and Juventus president Andrea Agnelli said: ‘As clubs, we are the sole stakeholder taking entrepreneurial risks. As such, it is essential that the ECA is at the heart and fully involved in shaping the decisions which will determine the game’s future.’