Updated Friday 22 May 2020

 

GENERAL

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.

 

CLUB COMPETITIONS

What is the situation with UEFA & Domestic Club Competitions?

UEFA’s WG1 is working to draw up consensual proposals for the recovery of matches postponed in National Team competitions as well as domestic and European club competitions. At the moment, WG1 is examining a range of scenarios, looking initially at ones where this season’s remaining UCL and UEL matches are able to be completed, albeit in a revised calendar which will extend through the summer. The ideal scenario, should the pandemic situation permit it, is to have the currently suspended domestic competitions completed enabling football clubs to qualify for UEFA club competitions on sporting merit in their original format. Should this outcome not be possible, in particular due to calendar issues (e.g. not sufficient time to play the remaining matches of the national competitions, i.e. league and cup) it would be preferable that suspended domestic competitions would restart with a different format in a manner which would still facilitate clubs to qualify on sporting merit based on completion of those competitions under the different format. The fallback option would be to have the currently suspended domestic competitions prematurely terminated but to determine eligibility for UEFA club competitions based on sporting merit to the extent that is possible in these exceptional circumstances. Please see the Guidelines on Eligibility Principles (link) for more information.

Does there already exist some scenario for the end of the current season in UEFA Club Competitions?

UEFA’s WG1 is monitoring the restart of the domestic leagues and considering several different scenarios for the conclusion of the current UEFA Club Competition season.

What is the current scenario regarding qualification for next season’s 2020/21 UEFA Club Competitions?

UEFA’s intention is to proceed with all qualifying rounds for the 2020/21 season as planned, even with a delayed calendar, however different alternative scenarios are being discussed in WG1.

Are domestic leagues considering not completing the current season?

We are fully aware that the situation for all our members is extremely challenging, especially because revenue flows on which clubs are dependent to pay players, staff and other operating costs have ground to a halt. This reality is being addressed as matter of absolute priority. Alongside the measures being considered to address short term cash flow issues, it is paramount to make all the necessary preparations to ensure that the game can restart at the earliest feasible time taking into account public health requirements. As we are in a rapidly evolving situation, co-ordination of decision making is also paramount and we would ask members to input into, and take guidance from, efforts at European level to ensure clear European directions are taken. In the core stakeholder working group, UEFA, ECA and the European Leagues have all agreed that finalising the season across Europe remains at this stage a key priority and is vital in helping to achieve the best outcome for the overall European system. This position expresses that of the ECA Executive Board, which last met on 30 March. While it is fully accepted that individual clubs and different leagues each have to consider their particular realties, there remains this strong belief among stakeholders that as much as possible, decisions that are reached apply across board and in a harmonised manner in all countries. We will, as always, keep you updated in as timely a fashion as possible on the evolution of how best to achieve clear European directions and what this means for you.

 

REGULATORY

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.

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?

Thorough discussions on Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play (CL&FFP) topics are currently taking place in UEFA WG2, where stakeholders at the outset have agreed that CL&FFP as an overarching framework should be kept in place, but relaxed in an appropriate manner so as not to further unreasonably hinder clubs in these extraordinary circumstances. In the meantime and as a first step, UEFA has informed the national licensors that the deadline by which clubs must prove that they have no overdue payables is postponed from 31 March to 30 April 2020 and that ‘force majeure’ will be applied in relation to monitoring requirements. In addition, UEFA has confirmed (i) the suspension of club licensing provisions related to the preparation and assessment of future financial information (however, UEFA also confirmed that it is looking into alternatives that could ensure the financial viability of clubs entering its competitions); and (ii) the extension of the deadline for the submission of licensing decisions for participation in the 2020/21 UCC to 30 June 2020. ECA is insisting with UEFA that clubs must be informed without delay and on a continuous basis on any updated approach in relation to the CL&FFP Framework.

 

FINANCIAL

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 daan.dejong@ecaeurope.com. For questions related to Finances, please contact Head of Finance, Hugo Hamon at hugo.hamon@ecaeurope.com. For any other questions or requests please contact Membership & Business Development Manager, Ida Dahl at ida.dahl@ecaeurope.com.

 

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