Rebranded European Leagues wants rebalancing of Uefa club monies distribution
The EPFL, the umbrella body of Europe's soccer leagues that was today rebranded as European Leagues, has called for a “fairer” distribution of revenues derived from the top-tier Uefa Champions League and second-tier Europa League.
Speaking after the body’s general assembly, at which the name change was rubber-stamped, Lars Christer Olsson, the president of European Leagues, raised opposition to the way the monies are being handed out to clubs across Europe, while also highlighting the organisation’s objections to Fifa’s plans for an expanded Club World Cup competition.
He said: “We would like to change the ratio to the advantage of the Europa League.”
Specifically, Olsson (pictured) said that there are talks continuing about the expansion of the Europa League from 48 to 64 teams, and, if that comes to pass, then the ratio would have to be altered appropriately to ensure that each team is not left out of pocket and the gap to the elite Champions League does not widen further.
Olsson remarked: “We have already put our views forward on the upcoming cycle. Some of these decisions are already made but we think that if there is another surplus in the sales of the media and commercial rights, then we think it should not be distributed to the Champions League [participants], but to solidarity and the Europa League. This is so we are already now starting to reduce the gap between the competitions but that remains to be seen in the future.”
The Swede, a former Uefa chief executive, stressed: “It is our firm view that as more and more money gets given to a small number of elite clubs, competitive balance is under thereat like never before. It is not good for our Leagues, it is not good for the vast majority of clubs and it is most certainly not good for fans.
“It is disappointing that from our analysis competitive balance is still not being addressed by the football family. This is a fundamental issue for our members and in the coming months we will be working hard to create a fairer and better model for financial distribution and solidarity.”
Ahead of the 2015-2018 period, Uefa implemented a rejigged distribution system for its club competitions, increasing the proportion of revenues to go to teams which fail to qualify for the Champions League group stages, and to Europa League participants.
From 2015-16, the revenues from the two competitions were centralised into a single pot for the first time, with redistribution to the clubs based on a fixed ratio of 3.3:1 between the two competitions.
From next season, a new four-pillar financial distribution system will be in place that takes into account clubs’ previous performances in Europe. The system is based on four payments: a starting fee; performance in the competition; individual club coefficient; and market pool.
The EPFL and Uefa were at loggerheads over the access list and regulations for the elite Champions League during the next three-year cycle (2018-19 to 2020-21), before finally agreeing on a new memorandum of understanding.
The leagues body was handed representation on Uefa’s executive committee following on from the protracted MoU talks last year, and will be confident of having a louder voice when it seeks to offer input on a “number of things that need to be addressed,” including, it says, a revised access list that is fairer and offers a more even spread of teams.
After lobbying from Europe’s major clubs, Uefa’s reforms for the 2018-2021 period include the guaranteed entry of the top four teams from the continent’s four biggest leagues – at present Spain, England, Germany and Italy.
Reflecting on the impending changes, Olsson said today that many of the decisions made about the forthcoming cycle are “to the detriment of the development of European professional club football.”
An analysis of Uefa’s distribution model for the 2018 to 2021 cycle was presented to European Leagues’ members during the general assembly.
European Leagues noted: “It was felt that the new model is not beneficial in improving competitive balance in European football. Indeed the new distribution model further increases the economic and financial differences between clubs from the same league. The inclusion of the new Coefficient Pillar among the distribution criteria favours clubs that repeatedly participate in the UCL/UEL, or clubs which have historically won titles.”
Speaking at a press conference today at Edinburgh’s luxurious Waldorf Astoria hotel, Olsson maintained that “the way that the European club competitions are organised now means that it has a negative effect on our domestic competitions,” distorting the “competitive balance” of the leagues in different countries.
European Leagues, which represent 32 leagues across 25 countries, launched a new manifesto at its general assembly meeting.
The manifesto concentrates on good governance principles, the “essence of sporting merit and sporting ability as the deciding factor in winning or losing” and a “real commitment to the principle of solidarity.”
On the change of the EPFL’s name and corporate identity, Olsson remarked: “The EPFL acronym was a little bit cumbersome and not reflecting our DNA as competition organisers so changing to European Leagues makes complete sense for us and hopefully for the wider football community.
“More importantly this process of changing our name and corporate identity has given us the opportunity to reassess and reaffirm who we are and what do we stand for. Each Member League has today signed our new Manifesto.”
The EPFL was founded in 2005 but its origins date back to the Association of European Union Premier Professional Football Leagues, which was created in 1997.
Enlarged Club World Cup Olsson also took the opportunity to underline European Leagues’ opposition to any expansion of the Fifa Club World Cup, saying that the body is “totally against any Club World Cup as it has been presented so far.”
Gianni Infantino, the Fifa president, has proposed an expanded 24-team version of the competition, which could take the place of the Confederations Cup, the national teams tournament, possibly as early as 2021.
It has been put forward that an enlarged Club World Cup would be held every four years in the summer, rather than annually in December, as at present, but such a scenario would provide players involved with less recovery time between seasons and hand the leagues potential scheduling headaches.
Olsson has called for more consultation, saying today: “We think it’s wrong and the ECA [European Club Association] has also been against any change. We are especially against the lack of consultation we’ve received. And it’s not only the European Leagues, it’s also the World League Forum and Uefa has made it very clear to Fifa when it came under discussion at its Council [meeting] in Bogota.”
He added: “We will not accept any presentation for a new proposal, even to the Fifa council in the summer, because there is no time for proper consultation.”
Fifa’s council last month delayed making any decision on changes to the Club World Cup after the presentation of letters from leagues and clubs bodies at the meeting.
Andrea Agnelli, the ECA chairman, was quoted as stating at the time: “We must share with you our concerns in relation to the process Fifa is engaging in by presenting what appears to be a completed document without any meaningful consultation with stakeholders or indeed their agreement as the basis for discussion.”