European Club Association

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European bodies implore member associations to wait to abandon seasons

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UEFA is speaking up regarding its hope to finish club seasons once the environment is safer.

Sky Sports reports that UEFA has sent a letter to its 55 members associations imploring them not to cancel their competitions early and that they exhaust all options “until the last possibility exists.”

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The letter is signed by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, European Club Association chairman Andrea Agnelli and European Leagues president Lars-Christer Olsson.

The report comes as the Belgian Super League reportedly prepares to award its league title to Club Brugge on April 15. The league would be the first to see its season abandoned due to the coronavirus pandemic.

From Sky Sports:

“We are confident that football can restart in the months to come – with conditions that will be dictated by public authorities – and believe that any decision of abandoning domestic competitions is, at this stage, premature and not justified.”

Many leagues, such as the Premier League, continue to suspend their seasons indefinitely as they wait for improvements with the coronavirus pandemic.

Although UEFA have relaxed their previous stance that domestic seasons should be finished by June 30, it is looking more likely that the 2019-20 season would need until August or September.

Top European clubs prefer to play Qatar World Cup in May

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A group of 214 European clubs may make the request to hold the 2022 World Cup in May due to Qatar’s slightly-lower temperatures during the month.

The European Club Association includes at least one club from every nation in UEFA and includes massive teams like Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Barcelona.

[ MORE: Researchers arrested after looking into WC labor conditions in Qatar ]

Given the options of November/December, May/June and June/July, they’d likely elect May for minimum disruption. A likely FIFA presidential candidate has also advocated starting the matches at 7pm, 10pm and 1am local time.

From the BBC:

The development of carbon neutral stadium-cooling technology was a key legacy pledge for Qatar 2022 and it is thought likely that the bid committee is open to a May schedule.

Fifa’s ‘calendar taskforce’ – which is considering the issue – met last month in Zurich. The next meeting is due to take place in early November with representatives from global broadcasters expected to attend.

The taskforce, which is led by Fifa vice-president Shaikh Salman, is due to announce the conclusion of its discussions and a timetable in March 2015.

In other news, FIFA has a “calendar taskforce”, which presumably will lead the War on Calendars.

While there’s always the option of not playing the World Cup in Qatar, the European clubs will hold massive sway in the decision. If they demand May, there’s a good chance they’ll get it.

However, depending on how the clubs amend their schedule, this could lead to a sloppier World Cup with less of a lead-up in preparation time and could hurt the “send-off series” of games played by countries like the United States.

UEFA considering shake up to European competitions

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The Europa League’s not quite useless, but it’s close. For a lot of fans, it gives their clubs a chance to play unique opponents in locations their team would otherwise never see. When big clubs have an off year and fall into UEFA’s second club tournament, we get weird matches like Liverpool visiting Anzhi Makhachkala or Inter Milan going to Azerbaijan’s FK Neftchi.

The problem is nobody ever asked what it would be like it Internazionale went to Azerbaijan.

No matter how quirky Europa League’s matchups get, there’s an inherent, debilitating problem the competition can never avoid. The stakes are too low for any team to care until the tournament’s final stages, when the possibility of silverware becomes a real possibility. But for most of that 15-match slog to the title, there’s a lot of justified apathy.

So it’s no surprised to hear from UEFA’s president that the governing body will consider changes to Europe’s club competitions, getting rid of Europa League in favor of expanding Champions League from 32 to 64 teams.

“We’re discussing it,” Platini told Ouest France about the proposed move. “We will make a decision in 2014. Nothing is decided yet.

“There is an ongoing debate to determine what form the European competitions will have between 2015 and 2018.”

The European Club Association also acknowledged the possibility, providing a posturing comment:

“We exchanged initial thoughts, but the discussions are to follow,” a an ECA representative told CNN. “For the time being there’s nothing concrete.”

The ECA represents 207 clubs across UEFA.

“As a principle, ECA is happy with the competition structure as it is. However, we are open to discuss changes or improvements in light of the 2015-18 competition cycle.”

The proposed changes would have the unfortunate side effect of transposing some of Europa League’s problems (too big, too many meaningless games) onto UEFA’s showcase competition. But it’s hard to see dropping Europa League and the 48 European spots it grants ECA clubs without providing some concession. At least this concession has the convenient consequence of putting teams in a tournament that matters.

Changes won’t come for three years, if they come at all. In the meantime, fans can look forward to many more Thursday nights scanning final scores of games they never intended to watch.