ECA Media Release

The 25th ECA General Assembly, the second to be held virtually, took place on 8 March 2021, bringing together 184 ECA Member Clubs. The meeting provided an opportunity for ECA members from across the continent to discuss ongoing efforts to secure the game’s recovery from the pandemic, but also a variety of other issues facing professional football; from proposed reforms of UEFA competitions to the International Match Calendar and regulation of the transfer system.

Address by the ECA Chairman

In his address to ECA Member Clubs, ECA Chairman Andrea Agnelli laid out the continuing sporting and financial challenges that the industry is facing due to COVID-19 and stressed the importance of collaboration and unity going forward. He pointed to the potential for a strong recovery and called on ECA Members to come together to ensure that all clubs benefit from this recovery and have a bright, sustainable future.

Andrea Agnelli said: “Although we are no longer in full-on crisis management, we are still very much impacted by the ongoing effects of the pandemic. First and foremost, across Europe we have substantially no fans in stadiums. Two, our revenue streams continue to be severely impacted and (third) players are being tested to their physical limits as they are forced to play in a severely congested calendar.

“Covid-19 has posed some serious questions about the sustainability of the current business and governance model within our industry.

“Fans cannot be taken for granted, and we have to deliver the best possible competition for them, or we risk losing them. That’s why I welcome the conversations that we as ECA have had for the development of the game - both on and off the pitch - with UEFA.

“What is evident and clear to me is that we should be focusing not on particular interests, but we must focus on collective interests.

“We have to be able to think collectively and as a whole, for the interest of our industry.

“We need to have the courage and boldness to approach the moment we are living with strong progressive views, not with the conservatism that has always distinguished our industry.”

UEFA and FIFA update and offer support to ECA members

UEFA Deputy General-Secretary Giorgio Marchetti praised the response of ECA members to the COVID-19 pandemic and held up this collaborative response as the model for future growth and sustainability. He stressed the importance of clubs and UEFA working together, as this had already led to innovations such as the UEFA Europe Conference League and the ongoing consultations around the current proposals on post-2024 UCCs.

FIFA Vice-President Victor Montagliani also praised the spirit of solidarity and collaboration that had enabled football to persevere through the pandemic. He thanked ECA members for the flexibility and pragmatism they had showed in their response to the crisis, actions that had allowed football to continue at all levels, and looked forward to this continuing in ongoing discussions on the International Match Calendar.

ECA CEO report

In his update to members, ECA CEO Charlie Marshall outlined the principles that are guiding ECA’s approach towards securing the game’s long term rebuild and sustainable future.

“The COVID period has heightened the tensions associated with finding the collective good, as fighting for the survival of individual entities has become the order of the day. So, as we look towards the future, we must remind ourselves once again that the whole football system needs to be looked at together, as it is all interconnected – from competitions to financial regulation to player rules to governance. And we need to look at these things in a non-traditional way, as ECA’s principles have long called for, looking towards a future with a very different fan and a very different set of social and digital behaviours.”

Executive Board election

Following the recent departure of Peter Moore as CEO of Liverpool FC, Ordinary Members from ECA Subdivision 1 voted to elect a new member to see out the current Board term to September 2023.

Arsenal FC CEO Vinai Venkatesham was duly elected and will take up his seat on the ECA Executive Board with immediate effect. Vinai is currently Chair of ECA’s Marketing Working Group and Women’s Football Commercial Task Force.