Tebas and ECA vice-chairman trade blows over Uefa club competition reforms

A war of words has developed between LaLiga president Javier Tebas and Legia Warsaw president and European Club Association (ECA) vice-chairman Dariusz Mioduski over Uefa’s plans to reform its club competitions (UCC) post-2024.

The spat began with Mioduski sending an open letter to European clubs criticising Tebas and expressing positivity about the reforms, first revealed to clubs at a meeting between the governing body and European Leagues last week.

The proposals, reported on by both the New York Times and the Associated Press, include provisions for promotion and relegation between the Champions League, Europa League and Uefa’s new third-tier club competition, provisionally called Europa League 2.

Tebas is known to oppose the plans claiming they would cut across the principle of clubs qualifying for European club competitions through their national leagues and arguing they would only be in the interests of a small group of elite clubs.

Mioduski claims the top 5 European leagues are to blame for the polarisation of football revenues on the continent and believes the UCC reforms would provide greater opportunities for clubs from medium to small European leagues.

Referring to the meeting between European Leagues and Uefa, Mioduski accused Tebas of hyprocisy in presenting himself as ‘a champion’ of the interests of medium and small leagues and clubs across Europe in opposing the plans.

“While he says what clubs and leagues in the 50 “other” countries want to hear, he is really protecting and promoting the interests of the true oligarchs of a system that is increasingly unfair and unequal,” he wrote.

“It is the top 5 leagues and their TV rights and commercial revenues that are the single biggest driver of inequality and the growing gap in European football.”

Mioduski added that the current revenue distribution model for European club competitions saw roughly 75 per cent of the €2.6bn media-rights revenues going to clubs from the top 5 leagues and just a quarter of revenues distributed across the other 50 leagues.

“I am not saying the ideas being discussed by Uefa and ECA are perfect. I can see issues with them from the perspective of a club from a medium league,” he wrote. “But there is one thing that is certain and obvious to anyone who is actually trying to run a league from outside the top 5 leagues: only reformed UCCs will save their leagues from falling behind the top 5.”

In a written response Tebas referred to his record in defending the interests of smaller clubs in Spain through the collective selling of broadcast rights to LaLiga.

“I have worked for 15 years as a representative of small and medium-sized Spanish professional football clubs on issues related to broadcast rights,” he wrote.

Tebas went on to accuse Mioduski of being motivated by the interests of his club, Legia Warsaw, which he likened to Real Madrid or Barcelona in Spain. He added that the UCC reforms were being driven by the biggest clubs, arguing they held a dominant position in the ECA.

“ECA is not the right vehicle to restructure the European football industry,” he wrote. “Nor do I believe that the problem of the industry resides mainly in the formats of competitions. The problem lies in the fact that there are big clubs that, in a forced and artificial way, want to change what has been the tradition and the essence of European football.”

Tebas concluded by inviting Mioduski to engage in further dialogue and analysis while laying out his vision for UCC reforms.

“In summary, and to avoid confusion, what we propose is: more access of clubs from small to the Champions League (the top competition), based on sporting merits and excellence in national leagues; greater redistribution to small and medium leagues; and also, a greater distribution among all clubs.”