Andrea Agnelli, chairman of the influential European Clubs Association (ECA) soccer body, has said discussions over future changes to the format of European competitions “need to stall” while clubs manage the economic fallout of the pandemic.
Agnelli has called for alterations to the format for the Uefa Champions League and Europa League from 2024, including around how clubs qualify to give them greater certainty around participation. The European Leagues organisation, which protects the interests of domestic club soccer, insists national competitions should remain the only qualification route.
Agnelli, who is also the chairman of Italian champions Juventus, admitted European club soccer was in “crisis management” mode and that those conversations had been put on the back-burner.
He told delegates at the ECA’s 24th general assembly: “We are looking at top revenue decrease of approximately €4 billion in the next two years and, according to Fifa, 90 per cent of those top-line losses will be borne by clubs.
“We have seen very important rebates to the principal broadcasters both at domestic level and at international level.
“We have seen a UK£330 million rebate in the Premier League, we have seen a downturn in the Bundesliga domestic rights of about €200 million, we are in the process of finalising the account with Uefa with a reduction of around €575 million for the international club competitions, and that is all money that is normally distributed.”
Agnelli added: “Evidently those rebates will mean sponsors ask for rebates themselves for two main reasons – we are not in a position to deliver some of the rights and secondly all the sponsors are dealing with the same pandemic.
“So it’s going to be difficult to imagine that we are going to see the same values from the sponsors coming in when we renew our current deals with them, be it shirt sponsors or secondary sponsors.
“This will then fall into the last very different part of our (profits and losses) which is the transfer market. There are estimates that say we are going to see a shrinking of the valuations of the transfer market of 20 to 30 per cent, and that is evidently less money circulating.
“I have the fear that some of the big clubs will probably suffer losses – one individual club alone – greater than the confederations will lose across the world.
“In my opinion, many of the aspects that were on the table in September 2019 are still valid, (but) I still think we are in the middle of crisis management, and crisis management is not over yet.
“We will need to stall before we can properly address what we want to have in the future, we need to have a fairly consistent understanding of what the significance at the economic level has been for clubs.”