The European Club Association (ECA) held its 12th General Assembly in Barcelona on the 3rd and 4th of March 2014. 151 Member Clubs from 52 different national associations attended the two-day event.
Study on the Transfer System in Europe
Further to a study published by the European Commission in 2012, the current Transfer System has recently become subject of intense discussions in the world of football. It has been noted that the focus of these discussions is often led by individual opinions and personal experiences with little focus on detailed financial and data-based analysis. It is for this reason that ECA felt the need to commission a study highlighting the reality governing the transfer system. The aim of this study, based on real figures from official sources and focussing on a European perspective, is to understand how the current transfer system operates in order to provide a more credible and reliable basis for discussion. The Study offers an in-depth overview of all the incoming and outgoing transfer transactions involving European clubs over a two-year period. The ECA Executive Board mandated PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and LIUC University to carry out this work.
In summary, the study allows formulation of the following assumptions:
- The football industry is not different to the rest of the economy.
- Clubs' revenue growth is absorbed by employee costs.
- Money redistribution from top to bottom is a fact.
- The current transfer system counters competitive imbalance.
- Out-of-contract transfers represent the majority of total international transfers.
- The collection of solidarity contribution has to be enhanced.
- Club agent commissions are significantly high.
- The majority of total international loans involve Under-23 players.
An abstract of the report outlining key outcomes can be found attached. The full report is available for download on the ECA Website www.ecaeurope.com.
New Executive Board Member
Further to the resignation of Zoran Mamic (now head coach at GNK Dinamo), Celtic FC CEO Peter Lawwell was elected to join the ECA Executive Board for the remaining period of the running membership cycle, which lasts until the end of the 2014/15 season.
As previously mentioned, the decision regarding Sandro Rosell's replacement in the ECA Executive Board and the UEFA Professional Strategy Council has been postponed until a later date.
Financial Fair Play
In his opening speech, ECA Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge reiterated ECA's support for UEFA's Financial Fair Play Regulations. With the coming into force of the break-even requirement, the project is now entering its crucial phase. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge underlined that ECA expects the regulations to be implemented in a serious way. He reminded members that they unanimously endorsed the project at the ECA General Assembly in Manchester back in 2010. ECA will continue to collaborate with UEFA on the matter. All ECA Members are supportive of the approach.
Commenting on Financial Fair Play, ECA Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said:
"Much time and effort was invested in this project. There is no way back and we cannot afford to take it nice and easy. Financial Fair Play is not a punishment; it is an opportunity for all of us. I can only call on UEFA to act in the most serious way possible when it comes to ensuring the full implementation."
UEFA Youth League
The 2013/14 saw the start of a new UEFA Club Competition, namely the UEFA Youth League. The competition, which was created by UEFA in close collaboration with ECA, is reserved to the youth teams of the 32 UEFA Champions League participants and initially runs for a two-year trial period. ECA Members were updated on key statistics from the UEFA Youth League Group Stage and were informed about the outcome of a survey conducted among the participating clubs. Overall, clubs participating in the first edition of the UEFA Youth League are satisfied with the competition and rate the experience for their youth players positively. A dedicated working group composed of UEFA ad ECA representatives will continue working on the project to discuss possible future adjustments.
Club Distribution Model 2015-18
In light of the upcoming 2015-18 UEFA Club Competition Cycle, a consultation process has started with UEFA to review the current club distribution mechanism. The ECA Executive Board decided to enter the discussions with the aim to allow for a more balanced system with a focus on balancing sporting achievement and solidarity. Revenues from both competitions are constantly growing; hence, the revenue distribution is an important aspect for all clubs and the ECA Executive Board decided to attribute high priority to the discussions with UEFA.
ECA Members were informed that FIFA recently confirmed that for the World Cup 2014 in Brazil a similar distribution model will apply for the club benefits as the one used for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. In 2010, over 250 clubs from Europe received a share of the $40m made available to clubs for their contribution to the successful staging of the tournament. This year, for the World Cup in Brazil, FIFA makes available $70m. The ECA Chairman reminded members that 75% of players participating in the World Cup 2010 in South Africa were under contract with European clubs.
Furthermore, ECA Member Clubs were presented with an update on the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar: Members were informed that ECA was now officially invited by FIFA to participate in the Qatar 2022 Task Force, which is set to discuss a possible switch of the world cup from summer to winter. ECA accepted the invitation for the two meetings tentatively scheduled for September and November 2014.