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UEFA talking with ECA regarding UCL, UEL

UEFA in crunch talks with clubs regarding Champions and Europa Leagues

March 19, 2021 By Michelle Bonsu
The organizing body of football's most prestigious club competitions is reportedly in talks with clubs to change how the tournaments are run.

Earlier today, fans finally got to find out who will be playing who in the quarter-finals of this season's Europa and Champions League tournaments.

Meanwhile, as reigning champions Bayern look to defend their Champions League crown and observers are curious to see who will eventually win this year's Europa League, UEFA, the governing body behind both tournaments, has been quite busy as of late.

The European Club Association, made up of clubs from Europe's major leagues (Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1, Primeira Liga, and La Liga) as well as smaller ones have long been pushing for a total revamp of the Champions League. In addition, clubs like AC Milan and others have reportedly been long pushing for a creation of a "European Super League" in which the continent's top teams will automatically get a place, regardless of how they do in their domestic season.

One plan for this new competition would see 18 teams participate and play each other in a round-robin format. It would emulate America's major sporting leagues (NBA, NHL, MLB, and NFL) in that there will be no relegation or demotion, thus ensuring that each year it will be the same group of teams playing each other.

Not surprisingly, this has yet to come to pass, despite receiving potential financial backing from American investment bank JPMorgan in a possible $6 billion (€5.05 bn) deal. There has naturally been strong opposition, especially from smaller teams who feel that the financial gulf between themselves and Europe's more established sides will increase exponentially.

However, as the European Super League continues to be a tentative proposal rather than a concrete idea, UEFA and the ECA have been taking huge steps towards a significant agreement. According to the Financial Times, the two bodies are seriously considering forming a joint entity that would give clubs significantly more control over sponsorship and media rights for the Champions League, the Europa League, and other competitions.

If this comes to fruition, it would be a massive modification on how things are run. At the moment, both the Champions League and the Europa League are solely under the jurisdiction of UEFA. This means that UEFA is the one responsible of allocating TV rights revenue as well as prize money to clubs, but if all goes well and the joint venture is successful, Europe's premier clubs will have more control over how the commercial side of these competitions operates.

As per the same report, the ECA apparently would like to see these changes to come into effect starting in the  2024/2025 season when the Champions League will likely move to a different format. This new arrangement would have 36 teams taking part, with each team playing a total of ten games. The top 16 sides would then head on to the knockout rounds.

Some benefits of this joint arrangement include: teams being allowed to broadcast replays once the match is completed, and possibly more streaming services to cover matches for fans on the go. 

It indeed will be very interesting to see if this comes to pass, and how it may impact those clubs who have been pushing for a breakaway league over the past few seasons, as well as their smaller counterparts who fear being cut adrift. 

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