UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin has highlighted the positive relationship between UEFA and the European Club Association - and has pledged close cooperation to take European club football forward in the future.
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UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin has welcomed the positive relations that have been established between UEFA and the European Club Association (ECA).
In a keynote speech to the ECA general assembly in Geneva, Mr Čeferin pledged that UEFA would continue to cooperate closely with the organisation to further develop European club football, with the game’s best interests as the main priority.
“UEFA is at your side to continue to work with you in full trust and transparency,” the UEFA President told delegates. “Our cooperation is already closer than ever, and we can congratulate ourselves on that.”
Mr Čeferin highlighted the success of UEFA’s financial fair play measures since their introduction in 2009. “It has enabled clubs to reduce their losses drastically,” he said, “and adopt an economic model that is viable for the long term.”
“Nevertheless, UEFA’s credibility and that of football rests on us ensuring that the rules that are in force are respected. Nobody is above the law.”
The UEFA President identified a series of challenges that both organisations would face in the coming years – including competitive balance, the respecting and development of financial fair play measures, and guaranteeing stability in UEFA’s club competitions.
“The biggest challenge over the next few years will be competitive balance,” he explained. “How can we continue to develop football in Europe and avoid widening the huge gulf between the most powerful and the rest? That is the million dollar question.”
Mr Čeferin described the ECA as “a dynamic, credible and respected organisation. With [its] new statutes, it will also be seen as a model of good governance. UEFA is at your side to help you continue growing and evolving.”
The UEFA President paid tribute to Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who is stepping down as ECA chairman. “You have carried out fantastic work since the ECA was created,” he told the former Bayern Munich and German international. “You can be proud of yourself.”
“You have managed to bring all European clubs together and make their voices heard in order to best defend their interests,” Mr Čeferin concluded. “Preserving the unity of European club football can hardly be considered the easiest match you have ever played, but it represents one of the greatest victories of your illustrious career.”
In his final address as ECA chairman, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge paid tribute to the partnership with UEFA, saying: "I would like to say special thanks to UEFA, and in particular President Aleksander Čeferin, for their cooperation for the benefit of European football."
The ECA represents 220 clubs from countries across Europe, and is considered by UEFA as a key partner and football stakeholder. At the Ordinary UEFA Congress in Helsinki in April, Europe’s national associations approved a proposal by the UEFA President to grant two full member positions on the UEFA Executive Committee to ECA representatives.
The two ECA members will be ratified at an Extraordinary UEFA Congress in Geneva on 20 September. “This demonstrates my determination to see you treated as full members of UEFA,” Mr Čeferin told the ECA assembly.
The ECA is also represented on the Professional Football Strategy Council (PFSC), which unites UEFA, clubs, European professional leagues and players’ unions, and appoints half of the board members of a new company, UEFA Club Competitions SA, which deals with business matters relating to the European club competitions.