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Lobby group launched for non-elite European football clubs | Football News

The European Club Confederation (UEC) says it aims to represent small and medium football clubs in a sport dominated by wealthy elites.

A new organization aimed at representing the interests of European football clubs beyond the global elite has been launched in Brussels, seeking to allocate more money to smaller clubs and seek an open and more balanced European competition.

Some 1,400 professional clubs are not participating in European competition and have no say in decisions made by governing body UEFA that still affect them, the European Club Confederation (UEC) said on Monday.

Forty clubs from 25 countries were represented, including England’s Aston Villa and Brighton & Hove, Spain’s Seville and Valencia, and Germany’s Borussia Mönchengladbach.

The UEC will accept membership applications from professional clubs in the top two national leagues, with 200 members seen as a “reasonable target” by the end of the year. Membership is free.

One challenge for the organization is that the rival European Club Association (ECA) is now the only club body recognized by UEFA.

The ECA represents more than 200 clubs across the continent, although it is dominated by big teams, including some of the 12 teams originally involved in the planned breakaway Premier League.

ECA membership with full voting rights applies to clubs that regularly participate in UEFA competitions, which currently pay around 2.8 billion euros ($3 billion) in total prize money each season to the 96 involved teams.

“We do feel that we are not represented anywhere in European football,” said Steve Parish, spokesman for the Brussels event and co-owner of Crystal Palace.

Javier Tebas, president of Spain’s La Liga, which supports the UEC joint venture, said the ECA only represented the elite.

Katarina Pijetlovic, an official with the new organisation, said the UEC aimed to change a mentality in which clubs “accept the scraps left by the elite … just enough to keep them docile”.

Other speakers included Alex Muzio, president of the Belgian Federation of St. Gillois, who reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League after two seasons in the Belgian second division.

“I worry that we are becoming an exception, a rare thing. The big clubs are getting bigger and the small clubs are getting smaller,” he said.

The UEC said that access to European competitions should continue to be based on domestic league results, with a more balanced revenue sharing. Its supporters have also questioned why UEFA is offering more bonuses to clubs with better performances in the past than to newcomers with similar performances.

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