The future of European football and the reform of European competitions starting in 2024, were the main topics of discussion during the ECA Special General Assembly, which on Thursday and Friday brought together 156 clubs in Malta, representing 48 nations. At the end of the workshop, the Chairman of the ECA, Andrea Agnelli, the Vice-Chairmen, Edwin van der Sar, Dariusz Mioduski and Aki Rihilahti, the General Secretary, Michele Centenaro, and the Director of Communication and Public Relations, David Frommer, all took part in Friday's press conference to comment on the two days of work.
Here are their statements:
"Some clubs came to Malta with scepticism and my greatest satisfaction is to have swept away their concerns. There are several problems for which we must find a solution and to do so we must put ourselves in the shoes of others and have an overall vision of European football. We are at the beginning of a long process, but what matters is that the clubs have shown a willingness to engage positively and with intellectual honesty, in order to address the reform of European football in the best way. In September, in Nyon, we will share our points of view and many things will still need to be discussed, but we are open to a transparent conversation and we want the satisfaction of all European football, not just some clubs."
"The current system doesn't work for most sides, and if we want to keep professional and grassroots football alive, we have to take into consideration the different local situations, whilst at the same time developing it at higher levels. Playing in more relevant competitions would help the growth of minor leagues."
"We need to reduce the gap between large and small European teams. It's clear that most of the resources revolve around the top five European leagues, but in Europe there are 50 more countries and leagues. Continuing in this way will see the leagues of the other countries die. The only way to reduce the gap between the various federations is to play in European competitions and to spread the revenue amongst more nations."
EDWIN VAN DER SAR
"Not everyone was born in Manchester or London. We must also find a way for those who come from leagues, such as Poland, Portugal, Greece, Turkey and Holland to grow at a European level. Two years ago, Ajax reached the final of the Europa League and two months later went out in the Champions League preliminaries. More stability is needed so that clubs can grow, and this is easier if you take part in a one of the bigger leagues, but we must also think about the others. The goal is to play more European matches and to do so you have to find an agreement and a balance that is compatible with the international calendar."