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Agnelli re-elected as ECA president, discusses Champions League reforms

Andrea Agnelli has been re-elected as chairman of football’s European Club Association (ECA) for a further four years, until 2023.

Agnelli, who also serves as chairman of Italian Serie A club Juventus, was re-elected during the ECA’s General Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.

The ECA Executive Board has also expanded from 15 to 24 full members following changes to the organisation’s governance structure. Thirteen board members were elected in Geneva and they will be joined by Agnelli and Nasser Al-Khelaifi, president of French Ligue 1 team Paris Saint-Germain.

The board will also be joined by the four ECA representatives on the Uefa Professional Football Strategy Council – Pedro López Jiménez (Real Madrid), Raúl Sanllehí (Arsenal), Edwin van der Sar (Ajax), Peter Lawwell (Celtic) – and the five ECA representatives on the board of administration of the Uefa club competitions – Ed Woodward (Manchester United), Josep Maria Bartomeu (Barcelona), Michael Gerlinger (Bayern Munich), Michael Verschueren (Anderlecht) and Dariusz Mioduski (Legia Warsaw).

López Jiménez, van der Sar, Mioduski and Aki Riihilahti (HJK Helsinki) were all unanimously re-elected as ECA vice-chairmen, representing all four sub-divisions of the organisation.

Agnelli said: “The coming years will be key as we look to reach decisions to ensure the long-term viability and well-being of the game in Europe. I believe ECA is in a strong position to meet this challenge with the mix of club leaders that will sit beside me on the Executive Board and look forward to the months ahead as we continue our work in shaping club football.”

Agnelli also revealed that the ECA would be entering the second stage of its consultation over the reform process for Uefa club competitions after 2024.

SportBusiness reported yesterday that efforts from Uefa and elite European clubs to reform the Champions League into a competition that is effectively reserved for the top teams had seemingly hit the buffers following an ECA meeting.

Agnelli has championed a reformatting of the Champions League so it would become a semi-closed competition from 2024, with proposals including provision for promotion and relegation between Uefa’s three club competitions: Champions League, Europa League and Europa League 2, a planned tournament that is due to launch in 2021.

The Associated Press news agency, citing accounts of the small ECA-organised meetings throughout August, had reported that the views of the smaller clubs had seemingly swayed the opinion of senior ECA leadership.

Agnelli has reiterated the need for reform and said, according to the AP, that a “proposal is on the table that is in the interests of all” but accepted that the original plan “might not be the one that arrives first on the finish line”.

He added: “The last few months have seen ECA engage in a very detailed and thorough consultation process which has allowed members to share their views and opinions on what reform of UCCs should look like.

“The overall feedback clearly states that reform is needed and that more European matches are essential for the development of football as a whole. We will now enter the second phase of our consultation, which will look to develop a more concrete ECA vision for the future of UCCs.”

The ECA had hoped to reach a decision on the matter by December but the process is now likely to take up to two years.