european leagues

Last month, representatives from Football Supporters Europe (FSE) and SD Europe attended a meeting of the European Leagues Club Advisory Platform (CAP) in London.

The backdrop to this specific meeting was an ongoing debate about UEFA club competitions reform, and, as a consequence, this subject dominated the agenda.

Proceedings began with an address by Giorgio Marchetti, UEFA Deputy General Secretary and Director of Football. Marchetti stressed the need for any reform process to involve consultation with all stakeholders, including supporters’ organisations. He further suggested that a decision on club competition reform would likely be delayed until next year or even 2021.

The clubs were first to respond, with delegates from FC Basel, KAA Gent, Udinese, FSV Mainz 05, FK RFS, Rosenborg BK, Lille OSC, and Real Betis taking part in a panel on the financial sustainability of European club football. Discussions focussed on the importance of UEFA revenue and solidarity payments for small and medium-sized clubs, as well as the pre-eminence of domestic football. FC Barcelona provided a dissenting voice, arguing in favour of the .

The players’ view was put forth by Bobby Barnes, President of the European Division of FIFPro and Deputy Chief Executive of the PFA. Barnes provided an overview of FIFPro’s position, which amounted to a rejection of all reform proposals—though especially the ECA concept—that include more games. He argued that this would present an unacceptable risk to player welfare.

The event ended with a fan panel consisting of Ronan Evain (FSE), Antonia Hagemann (SD Europe), and Kevin Miles (Football Supporters’ Association). All three reiterated the 6 points adopted by the 2019 FSE Congress in Lisbon.

First, they explained that any reform proposal should privilege promotion and relegation based on sporting performance, from the bottom of the pyramid to qualification for European competitions.

Second, they underlined fans’ opposition to closed leagues and franchise football. Qualification should be based on performance, not history or wealth—or, as Kevin Miles put it, “the principle that your achievements are won on the pitch, not on the stock exchange, is very important to our organisation and its members.”

Third, they argued that weekends should be the preserve of domestic leagues to protect fan culture, both home and away.

Fourth, they emphasised the importance of maintaining competitiveness in those leagues, keeping them open, fair, and entertaining.

Fifth, they asserted that domestic football should always come first.

And finally, echoing the arguments made by many of the gathered clubs, they restated a commitment to redistributing revenue from elite football across the whole game.

While the red lines of the supporters’ movement are clear, the position of other stakeholders is still uncertain. Everybody agrees that something must be done to address the growing inequality between the top and everybody else, but nobody has a convincing idea of what this might be.

FSE will, of course, continue to monitor any developments and actively participate in the consultation process.

Fifth, they maintained that domestic football should always come first.

And finally, echoing the arguments made by many of the gathered clubs, they restated a commitment to redistributing revenue from elite football across the whole game.

While the red lines of the supporters’ movement are clear, the position of other stakeholders is opaque at best. Everybody agrees that something must be done to address the growing inequality between the top and everybody else, but nobody has a convincing idea of what this might be.

Whatever emerges from the ashes of the ECA concept, we can assure you that supporters will play an important part in the process.

Fifth, they maintained that domestic football should always come first.

And finally, echoing the arguments made by many of the gathered clubs, they restated a commitment to redistributing revenue from elite football across the whole game.

While the red lines of the supporters’ movement are clear, the position of other stakeholders is still uncertain. Everybody agrees that something must be done to address the growing inequality between the top and everybody else, but nobody has a convincing idea of what this might be.

Whatever emerges from the ashes of the ECA concept, we can assure you that supporters will play an important part in the process.

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Football Supporters Europe eV

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Postfach 30 62 18
20328 Hamburg
Germany

Tel.: +49 40 370 877 51
Fax: +49 40 370 877 50
Email: info@fanseurope.org

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