UEFA rejects Euro League proposal

NYON, Switzerland, Reuters

The concept of a new “Euro League” was flatly rejected by UEFA on Friday but the region’s governing body for the sport did admit to concern at the growing disparities within European club soccer.

Clubs who say they are being left behind as money pours into the “big five” domestic leagues via the Champions League and TV wanted to set up a new cross border league but UEFA said no.

“The proposal to install a special league for a limited number of clubs is purely rejected,” UEFA chief executive Gerhard Aigner said at the conclusion of two days of executive board meetings. “It is not the solution. We can’t look at special leagues just for those clubs.“Besides is there really a market for another league?”

The response comes to a plan put to UEFA earlier in the week by clubs from six of Europe’s smaller nations — Ajax Amsterdam, Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven of the Netherlands, Anderlecht and Club Bruges of Belgium, Brondby and FC Copenhagen of Denmark, Portugal’s Benfica and Sporting, Scottish sides Celtic and Rangers and Sweden’s AIK Stockholm.

They are also disturbed that clubs from the five largest European leagues — in England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain — have dominated the Champions League and UEFA Cup, and are monopolising revenues from the tournaments and from TV.

While UEFA turned down the idea of new league, it said it would open up discussion on the future formats for club competitions taking the smaller nations’ concerns into account.

However, UEFA quickly added it had no plans to make any immediate changes to the Champions League or UEFA Cup competitions.

Instead, the UEFA executive board released a set of wide-sweeping quidelines that it said will form the basis of future club competition in Europe.

“We have laid down the 10 Commandments for club football that should be respected when plans are being made,” said Aigner.

“The growing disparity did not start with the expanded Champions League, we just added more teams and more games.

“It began in 1995 with the Bosman ruling.

“Those teams in stronger markets can transfer economic strength into playing strength. These clubs are not developing players, they are buying them.

“We have to address these issues.”