Europe’s big five leagues have been warned their growing dominance of the continent’s football landscape will not be allowed to continue unchecked.
A two-day meeting of the European Clubs’ Association (ECA) in Geneva ended yesterday with Chairman Andrea Agnelli talking of reforms being in place by 2022, rather than December 2019 as was the case earlier this year.
The abrupt switch of deadlines underlines the lack of progress that has been made by the ECA in talks over generating a wider level of competition, more games and higher income from Europe’s three major club competitions, including the new Europa League 2, from 2024.
It is clear the clubs, especially those from second-tier countries such as Holland and Poland, regard the ‘big five’ – the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 – as being major obstacles to the changes being demanded.
“UEFA distributes money to big, medium and small countries,” said the Ajax Chief Executive, Edwin van der Sar.
“The big five leagues collect money from all over the world and keep it in their own jurisdiction, plus they get solidarity payments from UEFA. This is not sustainable.”
It is understood the Premier League’s leading clubs – Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United – were all represented at the 169-member gathering in Switzerland and are not the object of the ECA’s irritation but the leagues themselves.
“You can easily see who is investing and who is protecting individual interests,” said HJK Helsinki Chief Executive Aki Riihilahti.
Initial proposals for a Champions League containing four groups of eight teams, with 14 games and 20 clubs no longer needing to qualify, have now been dropped.