ECA, UEFA joint venture better for European clubs than Super League, says Al-Khelaifi

European clubs have heightened influence and affluence thanks to the joint venture between UEFA and the European Club Association, says ECA chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi.

Nasser al-Khelaifi, president, Paris Saint Germain, and chairman, ECA.   -  AP

European clubs have heightened influence and affluence thanks to the joint venture between UEFA and the European Club Association, ECA chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi said in an address to its General Assembly in Vienna on Monday.

Al-Khelaifi said that the collaboration between the two bodies, which aimed to identify marketing partners to sell commercial rights for European club competitions in the 2024-27 cycle, had led to an increase in projected value for the tournaments.

In February, UEFA, along with the ECA, appointed TEAM Marketing and Relevent Sports Group as sales partners for men's club competitions. Al-Khelaifi suggested that the partnership had proved to be more lucrative for European football than the proposed European Super League would have been.

Last April, twelve big European clubs announced plans to form a breakaway league, but the project imploded within days following the withdrawal of the six English clubs involved. Subsequently Atletico Madrid, AC Milan and Inter Milan also pulled out.

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“For the first time ever, UEFA and ECA have worked jointly to conduct an open and competitive tender to manage the sales process for men's European club competitions,” Al-Khelaifi said.

“We have seen an amazing 39 percent increase in the forecasted commercial value of the men's UEFA club competitions for the post-2024 cycle. This deal also proves that the doubters of the European football model were wrong. More influence and more affluence for clubs, more progressive governance and more European togetherness - I remember some people trying to tear down the system for a fraction of these things last year.”

Al-Khelaifi also said that the ECA would make available EUR 1 million (USD 1.10 million) in aid to Ukrainian people affected by Russia's invasion of the country. “We are living through troubling times. We have all grieved to see the violent attacks on the Ukrainian people, and we call for peace,” the Paris Saint-Germain president said.

“I am in touch with the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) so that ECA can help both the Ukrainian people, and the refugees being cared for in the neighbouring countries. ECA will make available an initial 1 million euro financial contribution in supporting our members' efforts in assisting the Ukrainian people, while many of our clubs have also offered to find a safe place for Ukrainian youth academy players.”

Russia calls its actions a “special military operation.”

The ECA's General Assembly is set to discuss a number of wide-ranging issues in football over the next two days, including Financial Fair Play, the format of European club competitions after 2024 and inclusivity in the sport.

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