Clubs to discuss promotion, relegation in Uefa competitions

The European Club Association (ECA) has today (Thursday) called for a special general assembly on June 6-7, which will focus on the evolution of Uefa club football competitions beyond 2024, including the potential for promotion and relegation.

The ECA Executive Board said June’s meeting in Malta represents the “right time” to engage with member clubs directly. The shape of European governing body Uefa’s competitions is now determined for 2021-24, including the refining of the Europa League from 48 to 32 teams and the addition of a third competition to expand the number of participating teams.

The ECA said June’s gathering will provide the opportunity for debate around which the body will seek to work with Uefa to continue to evolve the club competitions. The ECA outlined that its fundamental points revolve around a “pyramidal pan European league system” with continuity and opportunity for clubs to grow and develop from within this system.

This would include “enhancement of mobility and dynamism across the system through carefully applied promotion and relegation”, with the ECA adding that this would provide European matches with “higher sporting quality and a more competitive environment at all levels”.

ECA chairman Andrea Agnelli last month stoked rumours that promotion and relegation could be introduced to the Champions League as representatives from 164 clubs gathered in Amsterdam for the ECA General Assembly.

Promotion and relegation from the Champions League would be highly controversial as it would cut across the principle of qualification being achieved through placings in domestic leagues – a move which would inevitably undermine interest in those competitions.

In today’s statement however, the ECA maintained that it would seek to promote an “inclusive platform” for all clubs, based on sporting meritocracy, not historical privilege, adding that this would be “open to all – keeping the dream alive”.

The ECA added that it would “strive to maintain symbiosis” with domestic leagues by retaining access and cross-competition relevance, stating that it is seeking to be “progressive and forward looking, not reactionary and preserving a sub-optimal status quo”.

The Associated Press news agency reported that Agnelli added in a letter to the ECA’s 232 member clubs that they should boycott a meeting being staged by the European Leagues group in Madrid on May 6-7.

European Leagues, the association of European professional leagues, called the meeting earlier this month, inviting clubs to discuss the evolution of club competitions and the threat that it sees to domestic leagues and clubs.

On the same week, on May 8, the European Leagues Board of Directors will meet the Executive Committee of Uefa for a discussion which will focus on the evolution of professional football in Europe beyond 2024.

The European Leagues said it hoped the May 8 meeting with Uefa will be the opportunity to create an “open and transparent dialogue” to establish a proper and inclusive decision-making process for the benefit of all professional clubs and leagues in Europe.