European Leagues chairman Lars-Christer Olsson has said some clubs have expressed concern about the commercial viability of Uefa’s new third-tier competition, the Europa Conference League.
Uefa has confirmed that it will launch the new 32-team competition, which will sit below the Champions League and Europa League, in 2021. The working title of Europa League 2 was recently changed to the Europa Conference League. Games will be played on Thursdays, with kick-off times at 18:45 and 21:00 Central European Time, similar to the Europa League.
Olsson was speaking to the press after European Leagues, the representative body for leagues around Europe, hosted a meeting of 201 clubs to discuss Uefa club competition reforms.
“Clubs say there is a risk that if the matches are not important enough, then they cannot fill the stadiums or generate incomes,” Olsson told reporters. “If we introduce a third competition where clubs are losing money, then it will be counter productive.”
At the same meeting, the leagues endorsed a set of three principles regarding the reform of European club competitions from 2024 onwards. These require that any reforms would need to: protect domestic leagues, increase participation, and lead to fairer financial distribution between clubs.
Olsson said European Leagues continued to oppose any reform that would see clubs playing more European matches at the expense of domestic fixtures. Such a position sets the organisation at odds with the European Club Association (ECA), chaired by Juventus’ Andrea Agnelli, which favours increasing the number of European games for clubs and reducing the number of domestic fixtures.
Last year, Agnelli and the ECA championed a proposal for a semi-closed Champions League from 2024-25 season onwards, which included provisions for promotion and relegation between Uefa’s three club competitions. The concept proved unpopular with European Leagues as it cut across the principle of qualification through domestic leagues. Uefa postponed talks with European clubs and leagues to discuss club competition reforms after the idea met with opposition.