French Football Convention: "What the ECA wants, this is what its 232 clubs want" (J-M Aulas, OL)Paris - Published Wednesday, May 29, 2019 - 10:10 - #148401 "In the reform of the European Cups under discussion at ECAECAEuropean Club Association, even the most modest countries would have access to European competitions. This is a strategy that takes into account the general interest. The ECA, this is what the 232 clubs that comprise it up want to do. Contrary to what has been said, it is the clubs that are posing the questions because it is European resources that make them live," stated Jean-Michel AulasJean-Michel Aulas, chairman of Olympique LyonnaisOlympique Lyonnais (Ligue 1 ConforamaLigue 1 ConforamaFrench professional football 1st division (20 clubs). Conforama (distribution of furniture and household appliances), title sponsor for 2017-2020 (€7m per season).), at the fourth edition of the French Professional Football Club Convention held in Monaco on 27/05/2019.
"Sports business marketing, bringing new fans to the stadium, and the equilibrium between leagues, federations and confederations" were among the themes of this convention, which brings together the leaders of French professional clubs, but also the bodies and families of football (players, managers, etc) at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort on 27 and 28/05/2019.
"Nothing is anchored, and we must not be reactionary. But we must not be too afraid of change. We must think about these discussions, but we must also jump at the opportunity. (...) It is very healthy that the leagues propose alternative projects, which will ultimately be presented to UEFAUEFAUnion of European Football Associations," added Michele CentenaroMichele Centenaro, the ECA secretary general.
"The elephant in the room is the Super League. Is it the sense of destiny to come to a closed or semi-closed competition? The answer is yes, and the ECA understood that if it we do nothing, an investment fund could come up with one billion dollars and create this itself with a number of top clubs, so we must try to understand all this and have an institutional approach on this subject. Putting clubs at the heart of the debate is fundamental," said Jacques-Henri EyraudJacques-Henri Eyraud, president of Olympique de MarseilleOlympique de Marseille (Ligue 1 Conforama).
"Recently we have seen more political than pragmatic positions" (J-M Aulas, OL)
Jean-Michel Aulas (on the right) - © OL • "Recently, we have seen more political than pragmatic positions. It is important to show the work of the ECA, to recall what the ECA brings in the context of the professionalization of football and the development at a European scale.
• The ECA has an absolutely unique expert structure, which is multi-country. I have never seen this, not even at the FFF. The ECA has an extremely diversified representative-ness, and represents the actors that are the clubs in a very democratic structure, with a lot of know-how.
"A very cavalier vote, in a populist atmosphere, with something of an undefined analysis"
JM. Aulas - © ECA • The LFP, which represents 40 clubs (Ligue 1 and Ligue 2), organized a very cavalier vote (French rejection of the reform project of the Champions League as discussed by the ECA and UEFA on 15/05/2019), in a populist atmosphere, with something of an undefined analysis, to sanction a lot of topics that have not yet been clearly defined, with Ligue 2 clubs that will never go into these competitions... This does not seem to me the right level of debate.
• I do not feel concerned by a vote of the French League that does not understand all the issues of the future."
Jean-Michel Aulas, chairman of Olympique Lyonnais, on 27/05/2019
The UEFA - ECA project
• An "informal brainstorming session to exchange views and ideas around UEFA club competitions post-2024" took place between the UEFA Executive Committee and ECA Executive Board at UEFA's headquarters in Nyon (SUI) on Tuesday 19/03/2019.
• The 32 Champions League clubs could, from 2024-25, be divided into four groups of eight teams (instead of eight groups of four), with 14 guaranteed matches and the assurance that the top five in each group (20 clubs) will participate in the next edition, regardless of their national league results.
• The sixth and seventh of each group would play in a play-off (or "play-out" for the loser) for four more places in the next Champions League season.
• In total, 24 clubs out of 32 (75%) would therefore be sure to participate in the following edition of the Champions League.
• Then, the four semi-finalists of the Europa League would also qualify for the next Champions League, regardless of their table ranking at the national level.
• Thus, 28 out of 32 clubs (87.5%) would therefore be present in the Champions League independent of their results in their national championships.
• The last four places would be awarded to four national champions who would enter the competition after a preliminary round.
"We are at a pivotal moment in the history of our sport" (J-H Eyraud, OM)
• 25 years ago, football was a local economy because the main source of revenue was ticketing, which now only accounts for around 14%. Today, it is a global economy. In England, 11 clubs would still earn tremendous money this season with no one in their stadiums.
• I am impressed by the organization and quality of the exchanges within the ECA.
"French football is in a defensive posture while we should be offensive with our strengths"
Orange Velodrome - © D.R. • I abstained (in the French LFP vote held on 15/05/2019 about the UEFA-ECA reform project) because I am particularly suspicious of the figures of €400m in losses for French football mentioned (by the LFP in their analysis of the project), even as French clubs will have entered a new and more profitable cycle of domestic TV rights.
• 10 of the 15 best TV audiences (in France) this season involved Olympique de Marseille, which has the best TV audiences in France, and the best home attendance. I intend to exercise my entrepreneurial freedom, and Frank McCourt (American owner of Marseille) is with me. What would prevent us from participating in this new competition?
• French football is in a defensive posture while we should be offensive with our strengths. There are still more viewers for a PSG - OM Ligue 1 match than for a PSG - FC Barcelona Champions League match.
• There is still a need to work towards a final project, which will probably not be like the one currently on the table."
Jacques-Henri Eyraud, president of Olympique de Marseille, on 27/05/2019
"The problem is big decisions are all made at the confederation and federation level, when these decisions primarily affect the clubs and players" (M. Centenaro, ECA)
Mr. Centenaro - © ECA • "The ECA counts 232 club members from all 55 national associations (109 ordinary voting members; 123 associate members), spread across 4 sub-divisions based on the UEFA coefficient rankings. And ECA's purpose is to safeguard, strengthen, and share European club football.
• Now, ECA is recognized as the sole body to directly represent clubs to UEFA. The main discussions tend to be around Competitions, Calendar, and Player Status. The problem is big decisions are all made at the confederation and federation level, when these decisions primarily affect the clubs and players. ECA is here to help the clubs gain more voice in the decision-making process.
• From all levels, from the ECA subdivision 4 clubs of an average revenue of €1.8m, to the top elite subdivision 1 of global clubs, the answer is to have more consistent access to European football. The smaller the club, the more dependent they can be on European revenue for survival. The domestic market brings zero to these clubs.
"We must think about the future, nothing has been decided, the discussion is only just now beginning"
ACE - © ECA • The clubs in subdivision 3 and 4 need more access to European football. And look at Ajax, a subdivision 2 club. They make the semi-finals of the Champions League this year, but next they start over again, with two rounds of qualifying to see if they can even make it back to group stage. And if they don't, then they have to think about selling players, and losing their cycle of talent.
• So this is the discussion that will take place in European football, in Malta on 06 and 07/06/2019, for a pan-European (cup) system of three levels, in connection with the domestic leagues. To create more avenues (to European competition), always based on sporting merit, for clubs to develop and maintain a place in Europe. To begin to think about the future.
• And I think these are good questions, healthy questions for all of football. We must think about the future. And nothing has been decided, the discussion is only just now beginning."
Michele Centenaro, secretary general of the ECAECAEuropean Club Association, 27/05/2019
European Club Association (ECA)
Activity: an "independent body directly representing football clubs at European level" (ECA website)
Founded: January 2008, replacing the G14 and the Forum of European Clubs
Headquarters: Nyon, Switzerland
Members: 232 clubs from 54 national federations, UEFA members
ECA Executive Board (2017-2019 cycle), elected on 05/09/2017:
• Chairman: Andrea Agnelli, Juventus (ITA)
• 1st Vice-chairman: Pedro López Jiménez, Real Madrid CF (ESP)
• 2nd Vice-chairman: Edwin van der Sar, AFC Ajax (NED)
• 3rd Vice-chairman: Dariusz Mioduski, Legia Warszawa SA (POL)
• 4th Vice-chairman: Aki Riihilahti, HJK Helsinki (FIN)
• Ed Woodward, Manchester United FC (ENG)
• Ivan Gazidis, AC Milan (ITA)
• Josep Maria Bartomeu, FC Barcelona (ESP)
• Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, Paris Saint-Germain FC (FRA)
• Jean-Michel Aulas, Olympique Lyonnais (FRA)
• Michael Gerlinger, FC Bayern München (GER)
• Michael Verschueren, RSC Anderlecht (BEL)
• Domingos Oliveira, SL Benfica (POR)
• Peter Lawwell, Celtic FC (SCO)
• Niclas Carlnén, Malmö FF (SWE)
• Member (observer): Sergey Fursenko, FK Zenit (RUS)
• Member (observer): Raphael Landthaler, SK Rapid Wien (AUT)
• Member (observer): Stefan Pantović, FK Crvena Zvezda (SER)
• Member (observer): Vidar Halldorsson, FH Hafnarfjörður (ISL)
• General secretary: Michele Centenaro (ITA)
• Managing director: Charlie Marshall (ENG)