UEFA and ECA are fighting over the distribution of commercial rights and financial control of the future Champions League, hence the postponement on Tuesday of the formalization of a reform of the competition which promises to be the most radical for twenty years.
The UEFA ship is heckled in the open sea by a mutiny within it. The biggest European clubs, including Manchester United, have forced UEFA to postpone its calendar, thus delaying for several weeks the final decision on the version of the future Champions League, demanding full commercial rights.
According to information from The Times, the European Club Association (ECA) supports the new format but refused to approve the change until it received guarantees of increased control over the distribution of TV rights. and marketing, as well as financial distribution.
It is very clearly a coup de force of the clubs which pushed recently for the establishment of a closed League bringing together exclusively the most powerful clubs of the continent. But UEFA would be determined not to let it go, nor to tolerate a possible takeover by the ECA over its premier competition.
The new format as a bargaining chip
“The format is accepted by almost everyone, it is about the commercial aspect of the thing”, indicates a source close to the file quoted by the Times. The new format should therefore be approved in full next month. But this beginning of a split could, on the other hand, leave a lasting mark on the nature of relations between UEFA and certain clubs.
ECA members on UEFA’s club competitions committee, including Manchester United executive vice-president Ed Woodward and Manchester City general manager Ferran Soriano, were said to have made it clear during the meeting. a meeting this Tuesday that they would be prepared not to recommend the new format without getting more power.
The central question, according to the Times, is UEFA’s subsidiary UCC SA, established in 2017, which is administered equally by representatives of UEFA and ECA. It advises on club competitions, but the European governing body has the final say. The ECA would lobby for control over trade and financial matters, and therefore uses the vote on the new format as leverage. Football is always more than football.