The European Club Association is bad for national leagues, says La Liga president

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La Liga president Javier Tebas said the European Club Association did not represent the best interests of domestic leagues as it helped launch a union that will aim to “give a voice” to more than 1,000 clubs across the continent.

Representatives of five English clubs – Aston Villa, Brighton, Brentford, Crystal Palace and Watford – traveled to Brussels on Monday for an event to mark the establishment of the European Clubs Union, in which clubs from 25 countries have expressed interest in joining. stick.

The UEC’s founders, including former Blackburn and Republic of Ireland midfielder turned lawyer Gareth Farrelly, have said it intends to provide small or medium-sized clubs that don’t regularly qualify for Europe the opportunity to have a say on decisions that could affect their domestic leagues, such as the expansion of the Champions League from the 2024-25 season.

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Currently only clubs that qualify for UEFA club competitions are invited to join the ECA and only 109 of the most successful are allowed to vote on important issues. Tebas accused the ECA – led by Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser al-Khelaifi since 2019 – of “deconstructing” European football, but denied rumors that it would take over the presidency of the UEC as a direct rival.

“I’m sick of hearing that ECA represents European clubs,” he said. “It represents the elite clubs in Europe. We try to defend solidarity, but it’s not just the 10% discount on clubs. They must all be. Is the ECA open? Not to vote and not to make decisions. Which is what is really needed.

“European football is gradually deconstructing. The superalloy wanted to deconstruct it very quickly but there are others, in this particular case I think it’s the ECA. If we don’t get a reaction from these other clubs, it will be a disaster for the domestic leagues.”

While it is clear that none of the English clubs in Brussels have pledged to join the new union, Palace chairman Steve Parish told the conference that the club was open to the idea because “we don’t feel represented anywhere at a European ”.

He said: “We always see good stories, but there seems to be an attempt to purge those stories. It seems that every aspiration is deprecated, belittled. They love this term ‘little club’ but I think we need to stop using it for ourselves. I don’t consider myself a small club, I consider myself a club that is trying to aspire to enter Europe and win. I don’t know all the answers, but I think we need a different voice.”

Organizers had expected only a handful of clubs to attend their inaugural event and said they had to organize a bigger venue to accommodate everyone. “We are here to provide a counterweight to the influence the leading clubs have through the ECA over the regulation of European football,” said Katarina Pijetlovic, a lawyer who founded the union last year. “Most of the problems facing small and medium-sized clubs stem from the governance structure in which they have no voice.

“This is precisely why there is such a huge gap between the best and the rest. We want to close the gap: only 8% of clubs are represented by the ECA in the governance of European football. The UEC wants to represent the remaining over 1,400 clubs that are not.”

Last month Khelaifi was dismissive when asked about the prospect of setting up an association of rival clubs. “I just heard about it. Am I the next A22?” He said referring to the promoters of the European Super League proposal.

“The ECA is the only representative body of clubs in Europe, recognized by FIFA, UEFA and all other stakeholders. We advocate for everyone at ECA, building solidarity for members of all sizes, but also for non-members and even clubs outside Europe. It is very important to respect the pyramid. Anyone who joins another unrepresentative start-up should question their legitimacy.”

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