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European Leagues issue blistering statement calling out UEFA and elite clubs over Champions League reform

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The European Leagues has stepped up their attempts to block UEFA streamlining the Champions League into a play-ground for the richest clubs in the game.

Under Andrea Agnelli, chief executive of Juventus and chair of the European Club Association (ECA), attempts are being made to marginalise domestic football with the bulk of places in the Champions League being determined by Champions League performances from the previous season.

Rather than reward clubs for winning their domestic title or finishing high up in the league one proposal would have given a Champions League place to the top five teams in the four groups of eight for the following season.

That sort of proposal with groups consisting of 14 matches rather than six would have decimated the domestic game with representatives of European Leagues drawing a line in the sand during a meeting yesterday in Nyon.

Under the headline ‘We do not need any Ivory Tower in football!!!’ the European Leagues state:

2019 has been a year full of discussions around the future of professional club competitions, in Europe and elsewhere. The latest contribution has been the establishment of a world club association and the idea of building a private worldwide league.

We are getting very tired of all the threats coming from a few rich clubs in football. Threats that they are going to break away from the football ecosystem as we know it and create their own private environment.

Professional club football is an industry, based on links and cooperation with amateur and semi-professional football all over the world where clubs, leagues and football associations are working hard to find and develop talents, letting them grow into professional athletes and entertainers.

Association football is built on this basis and formed as a pyramid on domestic and international level. Every level is interlinked and all have a responsibility for the wellbeing of the other, even if the conditions are different from territory to territory.

The dream is alive, for clubs and players, girls and boys, that one day they may reach a professional level and they can even make it all the way to the top.

Professional club football is not a private business for a few where only the size of the pockets determines who is welcome.

If anybody does not want to be part of association football, it is of course their own decision. If they would like to create something private and closed, it should not be under the umbrella of association football and the way professional football is organised by associations and leagues. Neither on world level, nor on confederation or domestic level. These clubs should not participate in domestic leagues as they exist today, nor in international association football tournaments unless they are prepared to participate in a model which offers benefits to all.

Football is a sport and not primarily a place for financial investment and commercial return. Of course, football must develop and move with the times according to the conditions in every corner of the world. Football must be prepared for reform when conditions change.

However, the solution is not a closed league at the top of the pyramid in Europe and certainly not a closed shop on top of the world where only a few of the richest clubs are invited.

It is time to pay respect to all the millions of football fans around the world, to all players and leaders in clubs who work so hard to make our wonderful game what it is today.

Let’s concentrate on developing exciting and competitive domestic competitions. Let these be the solid foundation we need to then build the international competitions and to safeguard the guiding principles for our sport. Keep them interlinked, where domestic success gives access to international competitions and glory.

Under the present arrangements the champions of Scotland has to get through four qualifying rounds over eight successive midweeks to reach the group stage. This season Atalanta qualified automatically after finishing fourth in Serie A but have had to move their home matches to Milan.

Should Champions League access from the 'richer' leagues be restricted

No, we need to keep the rich clubs happy

No, we need to keep the rich clubs happy

Yes, maximum of two from the 'richer leagues'

Yes, maximum of two from the 'richer leagues'

Peter Lawwell has served as an Executive Board Member of ECA since March 2014, has been a member of the UEFA Club Competitions Committee since 2015 and was elected as one of ECA’s four representatives on UEFA’s Professional Football Strategy Council (PFSC) in August 2017.

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