The UEFA Executive Committee has approved changes to its youth tournaments and discussed the centralisation of media rights for all European qualifying matches.
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The UEFA Executive Committee completed its first meeting of 2012 yesterday at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. Chaired by UEFA President Michel Platini, the Executive Committee deliberated on a number of key topics concerning European football.
The Executive Committee was informed of positive progress in discussions with the European Club Association (ECA) following a meeting on 23 January. Further discussions will now take place with a view to signing a new Memorandum of Understanding between UEFA and the ECA.
The Executive Committee was given an update on the safety and security situation surrounding football matches involving Serbian and Croatian teams in European competitions. This follows the visit of the UEFA President to both countries to meet their Prime Ministers in February 2011. While the Executive Committee noted some progress in both cases it approved the continuation of monitoring by the UEFA administration and European Union (EU)/Council of Europe partners, in support of the process of further change.
The Executive Committee listened with interest to a report on the EURO Qualifiers project related to the centralisation of media rights for all European qualification matches for UEFA EURO 2016 – the first EURO with 24 teams – and the 2018 FIFA World Cup. An open tender for bidding for the rights to the European qualifiers package is planned for the second quarter of 2012.
A report into the youth tournaments was presented following a strategy meeting of the 53 UEFA national associations in Cyprus last year. The Executive Committee agreed to a further study into the final phase format of the UEFA European Under-21 Championship, but agreed in principle to align the qualifying phase of the competition with that of the national A teams, so that the final phase be played in even years, starting after the 2015 final tournament.
The Executive Committee then approved a change to the UEFA European U17 Championship from eight to 16 teams as of 2015. The UEFA European U19 Championship final-round field was maintained at eight teams.
The Executive Committee also approved FC Barcelona as hosts for the 2012 UEFA Futsal Cup finals. The regulations for the 2012/13 UEFA Regions' Cup were approved, as was the final agenda for the XXXVI UEFA Ordinary Congress in Istanbul on 22 March.
The Executive Committee was informed of the results from the latest UEFA Club Licensing Benchmarking Report for the financial year 2010, which gives an overview into the overall health of European football clubs across Europe in 2010. The report takes on an increasing significance, as UEFA's financial fair play measures began to be implemented during this season and will be fully implemented for European competitions as of the 2013/14 campaign.
The full report will be available on UEFA.com. Key figures show that incomes held up well despite the challenging economic conditions with an increase of 6.6% in top-division income, but the bottom line figure continued to deteriorate with a €1.6bn net loss reported by top-division clubs – 36% higher than the previous financial year's figure of €1.2bn.
Encouragingly, the average number of club-trained players on the pitch in UEFA Champions League group stage matches was up from 2.1 players ten years ago to 2.5 players now.
While the level of losses was one of a number of warning signs that confirm the need for football to act, there were some improvements with the 64% percentage of income spent on employee costs, representing a small decrease on the previous year after four years of rising percentages. The need for financial fair play measures and strong governance is strongly emphasised by the report findings.
The next meeting of the UEFA Executive Committee will be held on 20/21 March, just ahead of the XXXVI Ordinary UEFA Congress in Istanbul, Turkey. Further information for media, including details of the Congress agenda, will be issued in due course.