ECA Media Release

On 10-11 September, representatives from 160 member clubs attended the European Club Association’s (ECA) 21st General Assembly, in Split, Croatia.

In his address to ECA Members, ECA Chairman Andrea Agnelli informed clubs of the important work undertaken over recent months including the re-vamping of Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations, and the future of UEFA’s Club Competitions, specifically that of the UEFA Europa League 2021-24. He also provided details of the ongoing work around the future of the transfer system. Looking ahead, he highlighted the need to begin to focus attention on the football landscape post-2024, including the future of the International Match Calendar and UEFA’s Club Competitions.

Andrea Agnelli stated: “From today to 2024, when a new International Match Calendar will be defining the football landscape, football will evolve in many noticeable ways. Clubs will have to be key players in the elaboration of the IMC as we are the only stakeholders in the industry that bear the entrepreneurial and sporting risks.”

UEFA Europa League 2021-24
Clubs were provided with an update on on-going discussions between ECA and UEFA relating to the future of the UEFA Europa League post-2021 and possible changes that may be introduced to the competition. Following demands by ECA Members to increase the overall number of clubs participating in UEFA’s club competitions, the preferred option is to develop a third-tier competition of 32 teams, bringing the overall number of participants in UEFA’s Club Competitions to 96 with 32 particpating teams per Competition. A determining factor in reaching this position was the need to enhance the overall value of the competitions. Following the update, ECA Members were provided with an opportunity to share their feedback and opinions with Executive Board members. Further discussions will take place between ECA and UEFA with a final decision on the future of UEFA’s Club Competitions expected to be reached before the end of the year. 

Future of the transfer system
Clubs were provided with a detailed update on the work of the FIFA Task Force on Transfers both in relation to content and process. A number of important components including agent activities, the protection and incentivisation of training clubs, the transfer of minors, loans & squad sizes and transfer widows are all being addressed as part of a proposal to adapt certain aspects of the transfer system.

Clubs were reminded of ECA’s wish to see modifications to the system introduced in a manner which is evolutionary rather than revolutionary and which ensures the safeguarding of the main principles that underpin the current system agreed back in 2001.

The task-force, which includes two ECA Executive Board members Edwin van der Sar and Michael Gerlinger, will continue its work in the coming weeks. Once its work is completed, proposals will be passed on to the FIFA Football Stakeholders’ Committee for approval with a final endorsement required by the FIFA Council, before new regulations come into force.

Video Assistant Referee (VAR)
FIFA’s Head of Refereeing Massimo Busacca provided ECA members with a detailed review and assessment of the use of VAR at the FIFA World Cup 2018, including the manner in which VAR was applied during the competition and the success of the technology in supporting match officials in reaching accurate outcomes.

ECA is keen to examine and better understand the manner in which the system operates and the added value it may bring to the game and will continue to follow developments linked to VAR closely in the coming months.

Appointment of ECA Managing Director
ECA members were informed of the appointment of Charlie Marshall as ECA Managing Director. Charlie joins ECA following two decades of high-level international executive experience at the intersection of sports, media and technology. The appointment comes following a decision by the Executive Board to re-vamp and strengthen the ECA Administration. Commenting on his appointment, Charlie stated: "The sport and media markets continue to evolve rapidly. Amidst this constant change, Europe remains the gold standard for all club football. I am relishing the opportunity to take up my new role as MD of ECA to help the European Clubs kick on and establish their success in the new era, both on and off the pitch."