LaLiga leads calls for fairer revenue distribution model for European competitions
Spain's LaLiga and several other national soccer leagues in Europe have raised concerns over Uefa’s plan for a third clubs competition, claiming that it threatens to contribute to a further imbalance in domestic soccer, and are calling for a new revenue-sharing system “preventing the over-allocation of funds towards Champions League participants.”
It was confirmed this month that the new tournament, which has the working title of Uefa Europa League 2, and will sit below the existing second-tier Europa League, will launch in the 2021-22 season, giving more clubs access to European competition.
However, the top leagues in Spain (LaLiga), the Netherlands (Eredivisie), Denmark (Divisionsforeningen), Switzerland (Swiss Football League) and Poland (Ekstraklasa) have expressed reservations over the new three-tier structure, and called for a review of the revenue distribution model for the competitions to ensure it is fair for participants and non-participants alike.
Uefa has proposed that while the Champions League will retain 32 teams in the period from 2021 to 2024, the Europa League will be reduced from 48 to 32, and joined by the 32-team Europa League 2.
This will increase the total number of teams playing European soccer each season from 80 to 96, although the share of revenues across the competitions is still to be determined.
While the leagues can see benefits to the restructuring, there are fears that it will have a negative impact on smaller clubs that do not have access to European competition, and the commercial revenues it entails, and will distort the competitive balance at home.
In a statement, LaLiga president Javier Tebas (pictured) said: “While the European Leagues have accepted the introduction of a third club competition, Uefa cannot make these decisions in isolation from the leagues that they affect. Europa League 2 will place greater demands on smaller clubs, who are the basis of healthy competition and the growth of European football, and risks creating a further divide within leagues of those who have lucrative European football and those who don´t.”
In addition to calling for further consultation between Uefa, the leagues and other stakeholders over the new third competition, LaLiga is leading calls from the European Leagues body for a more inclusive access list for European competitions, scheduling that gives priority to domestic competitions, and for solidarity payments for clubs not participating in European competitions, smaller leagues and federations to be increased from 7 per cent to 20 per cent of revenue.
The statement from the five national leagues reads: “Considering the upcoming decision on the revenue model, the European Leagues proposal includes a significant readjustment of revenues distributed between competitions, preventing the over-allocation of funds towards Champions League participants and eliminating the historical coefficient model that unfairly prioritises past achievements over current sporting results.”
Uefa has yet to issue a formal response to the proposal.
Just over €1.41 billion ($1.59 billion) was handed out to the 32 participating clubs in the 2017-18 Champions League, and the 10 eliminated in the play-offs, in what was the last season of a three-year commercial cycle, with winners Real Madrid the top earners, with €88.7 million.
By comparison, a total of €428.1 million was distributed to the 56 clubs that took part in the Europa League group stage and/or knockout phase.
Tebas, who represents the league that includes some of the biggest beneficiaries of European clubs competitions, said: “It’s imperative to review the way revenue is distributed in the whole UCC [Uefa Club Competitions] model, including of course the financial distribution of Champions League.
“Through further dialogue, a more inclusive and democratic model of European competition can be created, that respects the economic stability and the competitive equilibrium of the national leagues. This is one of the greatest challenges faced today across our continent and if it is not tackled decisively, it could have disastrous consequences in the long term.”
He was supported by Jacco Swart, the chief executive of the Dutch league, who said: “At the Eredivisie we take the issue of competitive balance very seriously. We have recently approved a new regulation in the Netherlands for sharing among all clubs a percentage of the revenue coming from Uefa Club Competitions.
“It would be logical for Uefa to follow this good example by implementing a fairer revenue distribution model that could compensate the growing financial gap between a few top clubs and all the others, both in international as well as in domestic competitions.”
Marcin Animucki, the president of the Ekstraklasa, added: “To be honest we were expecting Uefa to introduce an a even more inclusive access list for UEL2, but overall we welcome a format which will give to more clubs from more countries the possibility to play in Europe.
“It is now time to review the financial model. Champions League clubs are receiving too much money from Uefa. We need more money to be shared among all clubs, and especially, among those clubs not participating to international competition. At the Ekstraklasa we work to provide most of our clubs the chance to compete and win the Polish championship while dreaming to play in Europe. Uefa has a huge responsibility to keep this dream alive for all our clubs.”
Uefa has faced a dilemma in balancing calls for a fairer revenue-sharing system for European clubs competitions with demands from the top clubs for greater financial incentives.
Talk of a proposed breakaway European Super League was revived by a recent report by Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine, citing leaked documents obtained by the Football Leaks website, alleging that 11 top clubs would be founding members of a 16-team competition, which would take the place of the Champions League starting in 2021, and that those elite teams would not be subject to relegation in the first 20 years.
As part of the plan, the clubs were reported to have discussed “an option for leaving the national leagues and their football associations behind entirely.”
However, none of the named founding members, which included Real Madrid, Barcelona and leading teams from England, Italy, Germany and France confirmed their involvement in the supposed project.
Fifa, Uefa, the European Club Association, European Leagues and European players, in the shape of FIFPro Division Europe, all vowed to fight any such proposal while reiterating their commitment to existing club competitions such as the Champions League.
Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin said in an interview: “The Super League will not happen. It is in a way a fiction now, or a dream.”