Updated Friday 19 June 2020
How is ECA shaping its response to support members and protect your interests during the COVID-19 crisis?
ECA is engaging with members on a regular basis to understand the challenges you are facing during these difficult times. By listening and talking to you, we are collecting information and data which is highly valuable for the work being done with the stakeholders to shape football’s collective response to this crisis.
ECA has representatives in all main stakeholder Working Groups and Task Forces at this time. These include the two UEFA Working Groups; WG1 and WG2, which have been created to assess and recommend measures to address the impact on European football of the COVID-19 crisis.
What are UEFA’s Working Groups dealing with and who are involved?
WG1 is dealing specifically with Club Competitions and National team calendar scenarios and financial impacts, while WG2 is tackling Club Licensing & Financial Fair Play policy and player transfer- and employment matters. The WGs meet over video conferences at least once a week and often more regularly as required.
In WG1, ECA is represented by Michele Centenaro (Independent Board Member), Charlie Marshall (CEO) and José Luis Andrade (General Counsel). Apart from ECA, European Leagues are represented in the WG.
In WG2, ECA is represented by José Luis Andrade (General Counsel) and Stefano Bertola (Chairman’s Liaison Officer). Apart from ECA, European Leagues and FIFPRO are represented in the WG.
How is ECA engaged in discussions on FIFA level?
ECA is represented by José Luis Andrade (General Counsel), Edwin van der Sar (AFC Ajax) and Michael Gerlinger (FC Bayern München) in a FIFA Task Force focused on assessing the regulatory framework around the transfer system and looking at measures that could be put in place to alleviate the pressures this crisis is exerting on clubs around. This includes topics such as: player contracts expiring before the actual end date of the league, player salaries and contractual obligations in light of the crisis and the appropriate timing of transfer windows. Apart from ECA, FIFPRO and the World Leagues Forum are represented in the Task Force.
How is the ECA Executive Board operating currently?
The ECA Executive Board will set the direction of travel with regard to the items which will be discussed by the UEFA Working Groups and FIFA Task Force, define the priorities and has the authority to decide on any arrangements or agreements that ECA may conclude with stakeholders. The Board is convening calls on a fortnightly basis throughout this period of crisis.
A Steering Committee made up of a limited, but representative number of Board members engages in discussions even more regularly to steer ECA’s day-to-day response with special focus on shaping ECA’s engagement with UEFA and FIFA. It analyses feedback provided by members with a view to streamline information, gather and consolidate initial views and provide the Board with proposed approaches/positions and, if applicable, endorse.
What is the situation with Domestic Club Competitions?
Many domestic leagues have resumed to play - or will soon - while others have chosen to cancel the season. A complete overview of the different domestic situations can be found here.
Does there already exist some scenario for the end of the current season in UEFA Club Competitions?
On June 17, the UEFA ExCo confirmed that the remaining games of the current season - both UCL and UEL - will be finalised between 5 and 23 August. UEFA Champions League: Quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final will be played as a final eight straight knock-out tournament at the Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica and the Estádio José Alvalade in Lisbon between 12 and 23 August 2020.
The remaining Round of 16 second-leg matches will be played on the 7/8 August, pending a decision on whether they will take place at the home team’s stadiums or in Portugal. UEFA Europa League: Quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final will be played as a final eight straight knock-out tournament in Cologne, Duisburg, Düsseldorf and Gelsenkirchen between 10 and 21 August.
The Round of 16 matches will be played on 5/6 August. A decision will be made in due course on whether the Round of 16 matches for which the first leg has already been played will be staged at the home team’s venue or in Germany. For more information, see the UEFA Media Release issued following the meeting.
What is the current scenario regarding qualification for next season’s 2020/21 UEFA Club Competitions?
On June 17, the UEFA ExCo confirmed that next season's 2020/21 UEFA Club Competitions group stages will be kicked off on 20 October, with group stage draw set to take place in Athens on 1-2 October. In order to achieve the necessary separation with the final phase of the 2019/20 season and avoid impact on the access list and on clubs potentially involved in both competition phases, the qualifying rounds of the two competitions will be played in single legs (instead of home and away), with the only exception of the UEFA Champions League Play-offs which will remain over two legs. The draw will determine which club will play the single leg in their stadium. The first qualification matches will take place 8 August. For more information, see the UEFA Media Release issued following the meeting.
How is ECA dealing specifically with the topic around player salaries and contracts?
Issues on contractual relations between players and clubs considering the COVID-19 crisis and suspension of leagues have been discussed by the FIFA Task Force mentioned above and have been addressed in the FIFA guidelines on player contracts and transfer-related matters which can be found here. ECA has prepared a short note in light of the FIFA Guidelines which may assist clubs in understanding the scope/impact the guidelines in relation to player contracts and which can be found here.
On 11 June, FIFA followed up by publishing a document containing responses to questions which FIFA received from various stakeholders regarding the guidelines (the “FIFA FAQs”). You can find the document here together with a note prepared by ECA.
What are the latest discussions around the transfer window?
FIFA has agreed that a flexible approach is required and has decided that NAs may amend and postpone transfer windows. FIFA’s view is that, although transfer windows can be adjusted and amended, their duration should stay within the maximum limit of 16 weeks (for summer and winter windows combined) as currently established in the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP). Stakeholders have agreed that this is a matter that must be monitored and assessed on an on-going basis and will ultimately depend on when competitions are able to resume and sporting calendars are defined.
Will there be any changes to the FFP Regulations?
Where can members turn to for assistance in managing liquidity issues?
UEFA confirmed on Thursday 23 April, following a meeting with the UEFA Executive Committee (ExCo), its commitment to award clubs with a share of the UEFA EURO 2020 income despite the postponement of the tournament until 2021. As part of the agreement, a total amount of €200m is set aside for clubs to cover both the qualifying rounds and the final tournament. Of this total, €67.7m is set apart for the qualification rounds and UEFA Nations League games which will be distributed immediately via UEFA’s 55 National Associations to 676 clubs eligible to receive payments. An additional balance of €2.7m for clubs whose players are competing in the play-off rounds will be distributed following these matches in autumn. For more information see UEFA Media Release
EU & Government Schemes
State aid rules have been relaxed by the European Commission to enable public authorities to offer assistance. Much of the support available will be administered through national and regional bodies. Funds available include those coming directly from national budget resources and others comes through EU funded programmes which are managed by national governments.
ECA Members seeking financial support are encouraged to reach out to national authorities to see what programmes are available. The avenues for such inquiries are varied depending on national circumstances – sometimes such programmes are managed by central ministries or other centralised agencies, sometimes by local or regional governments at national level. ECA Members should review the list of the Managing Authorities involved in administering EU Structural Funds to obtain specific information relating to the form of aid available in their specific region.
It is also likely that national authorities might be devising and rolling out other support schemes to local undertakings. This information should be available through national authorities – usually government agencies responsible for economy, taxation and employment.
This link also outlines national support packages introduced in countries and approved by the European Commission aimed at assisting businesses impacted by the current crisis.
We will keep you updated on the developments as proactively as possible via emails, but please always reach out to us if you have any questions at all.
For questions related to Legal/Regulatory matters please contact Head of Sport Legal, Daan de Jong at firstname.lastname@example.org. For questions related to Finances, please contact Head of Finance, Hugo Hamon at email@example.com. For any other questions or requests please contact Membership & Business Development Manager, Ida Dahl at firstname.lastname@example.org.