Fans of top European clubs launch scathing attack on UEFA

Fans of top European clubs launch scathing attack on UEFA

Fans of top European clubs launch scathing attack on UEFA


Fans across Europe have signed a scathing open letter to the chairman of the powerful European Club Association, Andrea Agnelli, vehemently objecting to plans to expand the Champions League

Supporters’ groups have timed their missive to coincide with an ECA board meeting today, at which clubs will decide whether to agree to UEFA’s proposals for expansion of the lucrative competition.

Fans from 13 of the 28 clubs represented on the ECA board have joined the protest, which accuses Europe’s leading teams of ‘profiteering’, ‘insatiable greed’ and attempting to ‘bleed us dry’.

They include supporters’ groups from Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Ajax and Bayern Munich, Anderlecht, Atletico Madrid, Benfica, Borussia Dortmund, FC Copenhagen, Fenerbache, Young Boys and Lyon

‘Your plans to restructure the Champions League by increasing the number of games, introducing qualification based on past achievements, and monopolising commercial rights present a serious threat to the entire game,’ said the joint letter, which has been coordinated by Football Supporters Europe, a coalition of fan groups across the continent.

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‘You will only make the gap between the rich and the rest bigger, wreck domestic calendars, and expect fans to sacrifice yet more time and money.’

The chairman of the ECA, Agnelli, is also chairman of Italian giants, Juventus, and the board includes representatives from Manchester United, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Celtic, among others.

The plans that have been drawn up by UEFA, include increasing the number of clubs in the Champions League from 32 to 36 and increasing the number of matches in the group phase of the coemption from six to 10 in a so-called Swiss system, an overall increase of 100.

In addition, three of the four extra places will go to clubs based on past performance in Europe, using UEFA rankings.

It is anticipated the enlarged competition, which already generates almost £3 billion in prize money, will secure even more cash.

But critics fear it will reduce the revenues in domestic leagues, pile pressure on fixture schedules threatening the Carabao Cup and FA Cup and add to the wealth and power of the top sides, undermining competitive balance.

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UEFA’s president Aleksander Ceferin appears to need the ECA’s support for the plan for it to be approved at the next meeting of the governing body’s executive committee on Monday and ratified by its Congress on Tuesday.

The ECA will decide today whether to agree to the changes. But it has also emerged that the leading clubs want significantly more control of the commercial rights to this competition and the Europa League, in order to maximise revenues.

‘Such a blatant power grab would be indefensible at the best of times, but at the height of a global pandemic, it is nothing more than crisis profiteering—not to mention a stark contrast to the solidarity displayed by fans.

‘Over the past year, we have supported our clubs unconditionally, buying season tickets with no hope of attending games, and paying for TV subscriptions to watch repetitive ties held in empty, soulless stadiums, all while you were working behind the scenes to find new ways to bleed us dry.

‘But we do not have the time or money to invest in your fantasies or fund your insatiable greed. And in the end, we are your business model.’

In the difficult world of football politics, UEFA president Ceferin has been trying to piece together a reform of the Champions League that would be broadly acceptable to all groups, including the European Club Association, European Leagues and football associations across the continent, which receive money generated by the competition.

Initial plans, revealed in 2019, were more radical than those on the table now. They included more access for the biggest clubs and European matches at weekends, which would increase the commercial opportunities in Asia.

These plans were opposed, so the current proposal is seen by some powerful clubs as a ‘watered down’ version.

And into this complex negotiation plans for a breakaway £4.6 billion European Super League were dropped last year.

This plan, which is believed to be driven by Europe’s biggest clubs, including, Real Madrid, AC Milan and Manchester United, would create a virtually closed-shop competition of 20 clubs, with 15 founder members having guaranteed participation.

Those privileged teams would be awarded up to £310m to join the competition and as much as £213m from competing in the league,

While the European Super League plan has dropped out of the news in recent weeks, clubs are still developing it in the background, according to sources.

Ceferin is desperate to agree a reformed Champions League package as soon as possible in order to head off the threat of any super league.

According to some observers, the ECA board have leveraged his need to strike a deal by withholding support in order to obtain more control of commercial rights to the competition and Sportsmail understands the two sides have been meeting every day this week to reach agreement.

But to add to the complexity even further, Football Supporters Europe point out that not all of the ECA’s 200-plus members support the plan to expand the Champions League, or would even benefit.

‘Even most ECA members stand to lose out from the proposed reforms,’ wrote the fans’ group.

One English club that has been a vocal objector is Crystal Palace.

Chairman Steve Parish, said last month: ‘We seem to be expected to accept these proposals because they are not as bad as they could have been,’ he said.

‘I can’t quite buy into that thinking. that we should be ever so grateful it is only 100 extra games.

‘This will have a quite devastating effect on domestic competition in England.’

Source: All Football

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