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By Simon Stone
BBC Sport at Geneva
What was intended to be a meeting on the road to significant reform in European soccer finished with vague statements about deadlines and additional discussions that was extended for another 18 weeks on Tuesday afternoon in Geneva.
It wasn’t what the European Clubs’ Association (ECA) had envisaged if they met at Malta this summer. Thenthey expected, this week they’d be finalising changes that may be passed on for rubber stamping in advance of the beginning at 2024.
The measure of these issues his executive and ECA chairman Andrea Agnelli are facing was emphasised in discussions off from their press conference. The tone differed slightly depending on who spoke but the overall message was the same. Forget Plan A. Plan B is mandatory but, in this stage, nobody is completely sure what that should be.
Agnelli tried to manage the situation however, the Juventus chairman, generally relaxed, had no definitive answers.
It was rather unsatisfactory and a closing press conference came into a fittingly terse ending when Agnelli was asked if it was true he had asked the leagues to get a decrease in the amount.
«No, no,» he said, climbing to his feet, before responding’no’ again when he asked if he had mentioned it.
Agnelli and the ECA believe an overwhelming majority of their member clubs need significant reform of European competition.
The suggestion was for three contests, each with group phases containing four classes of eight nightclubs. The notion was to own promotion and relegation between different competitions.
It was not made clear at which the match dates eight more than the current system – could come from. It was envisaged the fluctuations would generate TV earnings and expand European competition, both in regard to the amount of clubs along with the matches they played.
Instantly, their opposition was announced by some strong voices. Even the Premier League clubs introduced their very own statement that was collective, and individual clubs made their feelings known.
ECA staff have spent the past three months attempting to find common ground that would enable the formulation of a plan that could be carried. It has become obvious that this is practically impossible.
«The suggestion will be in the interests of and it is a fantastic proposal,» said Agnelli. «Can this be the one which arrives first in the finishing line? It might not be.»
Although nobody stated it publicly the blame for the current impasse has been credited to the big five leagues of Europe, from Germany, Spain, Italy, France and England.
The feeling is these leagues are more concerned about protecting their lucrative national TV markets in any erosion brought on by the growth of the European match, than they’re about the improvement of this continent as a whole.
1 club from a large country that is middle-ranking told BBC Sport he had no issue with the biggest nightclubs of England, nor the Premier League as a whole awarded fascination that is historic and its validity. He contested the the sixth greatest club of Italy should benefit from additional TV revenues, some of which came from his own country, while the financing of his club reduced.
«The less attractive we are, the fewer people want to return into our matches and the faster our players wish to leave for nightclubs in different nations,» he explained.
«The big leagues are solely interested in themselves. They do not care about European competition. It is all about European contest. That’s the place the point where the interest is.»
It is the self-centred interests of these big championships Edwin van der Sar was talking about if the former Netherlands and Manchester United goalkeeper, now developing a remarkable reputation as chief executive at Ajax, was talking about when he said of the past 3 months:»There has been lots of suggestions and feedback from various stakeholders – some relevant, some untrue and irrelevant, which is odd.»
«At the very top, a few things need tweaking,» stated former Crystal Palace midfielder Aki Riihalahti, currently chief executive in Finland’s most famous team HJK Helsinki. «In the other end, I have seldom seen such agreement. Change is required.»
The problem is the initial proposals were announced with such fanfare, an element of wariness has been introduced within the procedure for knocking them back.
Despite numerous sources saying that initial notion is’dead’, a minumum of one delegate in Switzerland has taken a view that he won’t believe an idea he felt would have’disastrous’ consequences for its domestic league his team plays in has gone away, before an alternate strategy has been imposed.
Suggestions which were floated around the borders of talks in Geneva have included a yield for the second group phase.
Notions will either be carried on board or discarded, together with Agnelli saying when Uefa must go in the market as that is the definite deadline for shift is 2022.
The chances are on a set of smaller alterations, taking place to modernize the European football landscape, though Agnelli did warn clubs not.
«We will not get past an 80% satisfaction rate,» he explained.
«You shouldn’t forget the ECA is there to protect the promotion of football across all European nations, not just a few who have been a bit more vocal in recent months.»
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