The European Club Association (ECA) has launched the ECA Network, a new services and knowledge-based network for up to 160 aspiring clubs of Europe that will enable more clubs across the continent to access expert advisory, education, knowledge sharing and research services.
The ECA Network will lead to a wider interaction with a broader base of clubs who all have ambitions of reaching new levels of professionalism and competitiveness in a European context. Eligible clubs, based on recent European and domestic performance, have been contacted and registration forms are now being received.
The launch of the ECA Network comes as many more clubs across Europe are receiving significantly higher sums in solidarity payments from UEFA Club Competitions as from the 2021/22 season. Clubs in countries such as Croatia, Czech Republic, Luxembourg, and Switzerland will now receive over three times the amount in solidarity distributions than previously, thanks to the agreement between UEFA, ECA and other stakeholders to spread the funds to where they are most needed and deserved across Europe. A doubling of solidarity funding, on average, will now be received by all countries outside of the top 5 leagues.
Furthermore, with the men’s UEFA Club Competitions set to include more participating teams as of 2024 (108 in the Group Stages rising from 96 currently), plus 150 or so other clubs who play the qualifiers every year but do not make it to the Group Stages, more clubs across more countries in Europe are gearing themselves up for European football.
ECA CEO, Charlie Marshall, said: “At ECA we already provide our members, the principal stakeholders in European club football, with strong and transparent representation at European and International level towards the governing bodies, competition organisers and regulators. Now with the ECA Network we are extending the reach of our professional services to a new set of clubs that are knocking on the door of Europe. By sharing the knowledge and experience ECA has gained over 15 years of its existence, working with the top clubs across all European countries, we hope to be able to offer valuable services and tools to a broader base of clubs.”
ECA is a driving force on many professional football matters that are relevant to clubs other than just its members. For example, the financial distributions that clubs receive not only from UEFA Club Competitions but also from National Team football, in the form of UEFA and FIFA Club Benefits Programmes, ensuring that clubs receive contributions from national team football revenues for the release of their players. Other examples include the international match calendar and the transfer and player release systems, which are highly significant topics for all clubs.
The ECA Network will ensure that more clubs can engage with ECA and other European clubs on matters of interest to European and International club football, while accessing services across core areas of club business including legal, finance, commercial, competitions, women’s and youth football development.