A new club association aims to give smaller clubs a voice in Europe. The ECA, powerful advocate for top clubs, is taking countermeasures.
The new Union of European Clubs (UEC) will be officially proclaimed on Monday (April 24th, 2023) in Brussels. “We want to fill a gap in the structure of European club football. More than 90 per cent of professional clubs are not represented and that’s mostly non-elite clubs.”says a representative of the UEC in an interview with the sports show. “UEC will give these clubs a voice.”
Official members are not yet known, several clubs from the five big leagues in Europe have expressed interest. But in the background, pressure is currently building up.
ECA tries to devalue the UEC
The European Club Association (ECA) is so far the only club representation in European football recognized by UEFA. And she wants it to stay that way and tries to devalue the UEC in terms of communication and structure. At the General Assembly in Budapest at the end of March, the ECA significantly increased the number of its members, which is also intended to make membership of the new competition less attractive.
Nasser Al-Khelaifi, President of Paris Saint-Germain and Chair of the ECA, said of the UEC: “I’ve heard little from them. Is this a new breed of A22 (the Super League enforcement agency, editor’s note)? We are the only club representation recognized by UEFA and FIFA.” All important interest groups are invited in Brussels, the topic is sensitive in European football politics. The ECA will probably not appear. Is UEFA coming? It would be respectful, but also an affront to the powerful ECA.
ECA President Nasser Al-Khelaifi
Crystal Palace and other Premier League clubs
According to information from the sports show, clubs from the Premier League are also coming to Brussels for the start of the UEC, including Crystal Palace. You are interested in the new organization.
ECA Managing Director Charlie Marshall chose ironic words about Palace to broadcaster CBS: “It’s good to see that Crystal Palace, a club with more than 200 times the revenue of a similar club in the Croatian league, are committed to closing the gap between the richest and poorest clubs in Europe.”
UEC does not want to replace the ECA – but create a counterweight
The UEC, meanwhile, says it doesn’t want to replace the ECA, but wants to be a counterweight. “When only elite clubs are adequately represented, decisions about the future of football that affect all clubs will be made with elite clubs in mind.”according to the UEC.
Representatives of the new organization were also invited to the General Assembly of the European League Association on Friday (April 21, 2023), which called for higher payments from UEFA to smaller clubs. The founding of the UEC is also an expression of the financial divide in Europe.
Spain’s league boss backed the creation of the UEC
A polarizing figure plays a key role at UEC: Spanish league boss Javier Tebas helped UEC set up. Tebas is considered one of the most undiplomatic officials in international football. He is constantly in public disputes – for example with the Spanish association, Spanish journalists, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and also the ECA with Nasser Al-Khelaifi and Paris Saint-Germain.
Tebas, who was instrumental in helping UEFA prevent the Super League from taking place, will make an appearance at the official launch of the UEC on Monday, and he supports and endorses the organization in its formation. However, he is not to become its chairman.