The formation of the European Club Association (ECA) and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the new body, representing the interests of clubs at European level, and UEFA, the governing body of European football, signals the start of a new era in the game.
Following on from the joint FIFA/UEFA announcement of Tuesday 15 January, the creation of the ECA on Monday paves the way for harmony to return to football between the governing bodies and the clubs. The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding today means that UEFA recognises the ECA as the sole body representing the interests of clubs at European level – and the ECA recognises UEFA as the governing body of football at European level, and FIFA as the governing body of football at worldwide level.
Speaking in opening the meeting at UEFA headquarters, the House of European Football, in Nyon today, UEFA President Michel Platini said: "After being elected and confronting the problems in football, I said that the game, that dialogue and the exchange of ideas was the solution. I now count on you, football counts on you, UEFA counts on you, and the youth of today counts on you." The UEFA President also thanked those who worked at the heart of this historic agreement with the clubs: "I would like to place on record and express my sincere thanks to the FIFA President, Joseph Blatter, and the FIFA General Secretary, Jérôme Valcke, as well as Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Adriano Galliani, Umberto Gandini, Joan Laporta, Peter Kenyon and Ramón Calderón."
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, chairman of the ECA, said: "Normally with agreements there are winners and losers but this time everyone is a winner. I must thank UEFA President Michel Platini for the speed with which these actions have been set in motion and without whom many of these solutions would not have been possible." The ECA, as an independent autonomous body representing the European clubs, is drawn from all of UEFA's 53 member associations. The ECA shall in principle be composed of 103 clubs, with the precise number of clubs from each member association established every two years at the end of the UEFA season on the basis of the UEFA ranking of its member associations according to the following principles. The three highest-ranking associations will have five clubs; the next three, four clubs; the associations ranked from seventh to 15th will each have three clubs; associations ranked from 16th to 26th will have two clubs; and those remaining associations will have one club.
It was agreed that a transitional ECA Board would represent the ECA and its 16 founding members until the next general assembly meets at the end of the season, when elections for a new Executive Board will be held. The ECA Board will comprise eleven members, plus the four representatives appointed by the Executive Board to the UEFA Professional Football Strategy Council. The ECA will also provide half of the members of the UEFA Club Competitions Committee. The transitional ECA Board is: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (chairman; FC Bayern München), Joan Laporta (vice-chairman; FC Barcelona), Umberto Gandini (AC Milan), Peter Kenyon (Chelsea FC), Marteen Fontein (AFC Ajax) and Jean-Michel Aulas (Olympique Lyonnais). The 16 founding member clubs are: Real Madrid CF, FC Barcelona, AC Milan, Juventus, Olympique Lyonnais, Rangers FC, Manchester United FC, Chelsea FC, FC Bayern München, AFC Ajax, FC Porto, Olympiacos CFP, RSC Anderlecht, Birkirkara FC, NK Dinamo Zagreb and FC København.
As part of the Memorandum of Understanding it was agreed to distribute every four years an amount from the UEFA European Championship to national associations for them to pass on to their clubs who have contributed to the successful staging of a European Championship. The target distribution amount for UEFA EURO 2008™ is €43.5m and for UEFA EURO 2012™ €55m (providing financial results are substantially similar to those of UEFA EURO 2008™). The payments shall be made on a "per day per player" basis. The distribution amount for UEFA EURO 2008™ of €43.5m is divided by the total number of days which gives a "per player per day" amount of approximately €4,000. For UEFA EURO 2012™ this is expected to be approximately €5,000. As well as the direct financial benefits of the EURO for the clubs, the Memorandum of Understanding also ensures that UEFA is set to schedule qualifying matches for the European Championship, whenever possible, in maximum groups of six.
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