Champions League

'European football must change to prevent disastrous polarisation'

Dariusz Mioduski, vice-chairman at the European Club Association (ECA), says the game faces a crisis unless it is made equitable.

10:26am on Wednesday 10th March 2021
Robin Bairner

Recent seasons have been branded “disastrous” for European football by Dariusz Mioduski, Legia Warsaw president and vice-chairman at the European Club Association (ECA).

The ECA, which was previously known as G-14, represents the interests for professional football clubs throughout UEFA.

READ MORE: How will the new-look Champions League work?

Its goal is to create a more equal and democratic governance in the game, though Mioduski believes that is it presently failing in that goal.

“The last several years in particular have been really disastrous in terms of the growing polarisation between the few and the rest,” Mioduski told FC Business.

“Today, from my perspective, we need to realise that European football is at a certain crossroads. In 2024 the current agreement between ECA and UEFA and FIFA expires and new ones need to be signed. The existing system and regulations governing the game, including those affecting European competitions and access to those competitions are not really working.

“That has to be addressed somehow because if it is not, it will lead to even greater inequality and eventually a loss of interest in football in large parts of Europe.”

The existing system and regulations governing the game, including those affecting European competitions and access to those competitions are not really working.Dariusz Mioduski

He claims this issue has been generated by access to European competition – and the Champions League in particular – favouring clubs from the big leagues. This has, in turn, made these leagues more attractive to the game’s top players.

“During a relatively short period of time, not only the best clubs from those leagues have been able to note the many–fold increases in their budgets, but also the smallest of clubs from these leagues now have budgets many times surpassing even the historic, big clubs with millions of fans from other European capitals and other large cities,” he says.

“Unless this problem is addressed, it will lead to decline of football as we know it in Europe. This is why ensuring access to European competitions, including the Champions League, for clubs across the whole of Europe – not focusing only on the top five countries – is part of the solution.

“We will need to adjust the access rules for top European competitions to favour the best long-term performers from all European countries and not second tier performers from few selected leagues.

“Of course this would have to be combined with a set of strong solidarity and rewards mechanisms for clubs which are not participating in Europe, so they can continue developing and investing in player development and football and commercial projects.”

A ‘Swiss Model’ for the Champions League has been proposed in a bid to transform the competition. It is designed to allow more clubs to play more games, although critics suggest that it will simply lead to more dead rubbers and fewer matches of interest.

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