It’s entirely likely that many football supporters were largely unaware of the European Club Association until the news broke regarding the proposed European Super League.
This development thrust the ECA into the limelight, particularly as several of clubs who have signed up for the ESL – including Manchester United – have resigned their membership from it.
But what actually is the ECA, and what do they do?
It was founded in 2008 to replace the G14, with the crucial difference being that it is recognised by UEFA where the previous organisation was not.
Their aim, as per their mission statement, is to “create a new, more democratic governance model that truly reflects the key role of the clubs.”
There are 232 teams from across the continent who belong to the ECA, and perhaps their most important task is to lead the management of club competitions with UEFA.
With aims like that and a membership base of that size, it’s easy to see why the 12 clubs who have committed to the European Super League idea can’t in all reality remain part of it.
After all, they have no interest in the democracy of football, preferring to secure their spots in the new competition regardless of their performance.
The ECA was understandably disappointed at the news regarding the new Super League. They held a meeting on Sunday which was chaired by former United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar.
The organisation’s chairman was previously Andrea Agnelli of Juventus, another club who have resigned their membership, hence why van der Sar led the meeting.
The Dutchman has been an executive board member of the ECA since 2013, and is currently the organisation’s vice-chairman.
As he is the CEO of Ajax, and they are not included in the Super League at present, it’s reasonable to think he may soon become Chairman of the ECA.
Following their meeting on Sunday, they released a statement expressing their displeasure at the proposed plans.
“In light of today’s reports on the subject of a so-called breakaway league, ECA as the body representing 246 leading clubs across Europe, reiterates its stated commitment to working on developing the UEFA club competitions (UCCs) model with UEFA for the cycle beginning 2024 and that a ‘closed super league model’ to which media articles refer would be strongly opposed by ECA,” it stated.
“ECA would refer to the position adopted by its Executive Board at its meeting last Friday 16th April, namely that it supports a commitment to work with UEFA on a renewed structure for European Club Football as a whole post-2024, including proposed changes to the UEFA Club Competitions post 2024.”
They are clearly not against reforming club football and the Champions League, but are understandably dismayed at the Super League idea. The statement continued:
“With ECA’s support, UEFA’s Executive Committee is being asked to endorse these commitments at its meeting on 19th April along with pursuing efforts to reach an agreement on the future relationship between ECA and UEFA.
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“The ECA Executive Board will be convening over the coming days to take appropriate decisions in light of any further developments.”
People are clearly keen to hear what else the ECA has to say on the matter, as their website was down on Monday morning thanks to heavy demand.
It’s also possible that the future of European football may have altered once again before they can offer further thoughts on the issue.
But rest assured, van der Sar and the rest of the ECA board will certainly be taking a keen interest in what unfolds from here regarding the European Super League.