By Samindra Kunti in Brussels
October 11 – Attacking the European Club Association (ECA) once again, the Union of European Clubs (UEC) reiterated that with a critical mass of members, it will become a key stakeholder in the European game and represent the interests of the continent’s small and medium-sized clubs.
The UEC’s sales pitch remains the same – to represent the vast majority of clubs on the continent who do not have a voice – and it is a message that has antagonised the ECA.
“The ECA wants to maintain the status of wanting to represent all clubs, but on the other hand they don’t want all clubs to join and they can’t vote,” said Lokomotiva Zagreb director Dennis Gudasic. “The ECA is not a democracy and is not operating according to good governance standards.”
The UEC once again attacked the ECA with UEC general secretary Katarina Pijetlovic labelling the umbrella body a ‘plutocracy’ serving only the interests of the elite clubs. She also called the MoU signed between UEFA and ECA recognizing the latter as the sole representative of European football clubs illegal.
“The ECA is dominated by the big clubs, the small clubs don’t have a vote,” said Union’s Alex Muzio. “They don’t count, they don’t even have a forum. All elite clubs need to understand that there are other things, other things than money.”
Speaking on the wider inequality in the game, Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish added: “On UEFA’s website, I can’t find the bit that says they’re set up to give most of the money generated to a small number of elite clubs.”
Palace, alongside Burnley, were the only English clubs in attendance in Brussels. With more than 120 members, the UEC emphasised that the organisation is still in the phase of driving membership, but that the union soon wants to pull its weight in European football.
The UEC claimed that its pressure played a role in UEFA’s decision to increase solidarity payments.
“Once we reach a critical mass – and very soon we will have more voting members than the ECA – and after the general assembly, we will have good grounds to be recognised as a stakeholder,” said UEC general secretary Pijetlovic.
In April, the UEC launched with a mission to seek constituents among Europe’s small and mid-sized clubs across to continent to counterbalance the ECA and the union is confident that it will achieve success. “Our growth is our biggest tool for UEFA recognition,” said Gudasic. “If we continue to grow, organically, based on the firm belief that our idea and goals are genuine, it has to happen that UEFA can’t ignore this because there are too many stakeholders sitting in this room.”
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