Liverpool at the center of FIFA and UEFA tug of war

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A European Premier League is an idea that has been around since real money started to rise to the top. The income from television which has allowed the Premier League to grow and become a powerhouse has so far been able to increase year after year. But this pattern which has now been disrupted, rather worrying for the biggest and the best in English football, by the coronavirus pandemic.

And then last week, Sky News revealed that the idea of ​​an exclusive European tournament for football behemoths was being brought forward again, less than a week after “Project Big Picture” was essentially scrapped.

Liverpool are apparently among a number of big clubs have been approached about discussions on the proposed tournament, which is claims to have been backed by the FIFA world governing body.

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Financiers were also mentioned, suggesting that this time around people were taking the idea seriously, with Wall Street banking giant JP Morgan, to raise some £ 4.6bn in debt financing, repaid via a slice of the televised pie, to help launch the idea, with other private equity firms that would also be involved, such as Spanish finance firm Key Capital Partners and US firm Providence Equity Partners.

Liverpool have declined to comment so far while Manchester United executive vice-president Ed Woodward told investors when presenting their rather grim financial statements on Wednesday that he “didn’t know where the money came from. ‘story’ before going back slightly and declining to comment further. .

UEFA, however, felt emboldened enough to comment.

In a statement issued Tuesday after the revelations, UEFA said: “The UEFA president has made it clear on numerous occasions that UEFA is strongly opposed to a Super League. The principles of solidarity, promotion, relegation and open championship are not negotiable.

“This is what makes European football work and what makes the Champions League the best sports competition in the world.

“UEFA and the clubs are committed to building on such strength so as not to destroy it to create a super league of 10, 12 or even 24 clubs, which would inevitably become boring. “



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When the story broke, there had been some uncertainty as to whether or not the idea had UEFA support, something categorically put to bed by their statement.

UEFA knows that such a power-play from FIFA, aligning itself with the biggest clubs in Europe, would cause untold damage to the Champions League, the competition that generates so much money for the organization, as well. as the potential repercussions for other competitions. like the Europa League.

For UEFA, the numbers show how important their competition from top clubs is.

For the 2018/19 financial year, UEFA recorded over £ 2.4 billion (84% of gross revenue after deducting competition costs), an increase of over £ 500 million compared to the previous year.

From there, 93.5% of the revenue was split between participating clubs, while UEFA took in 6.5%, around £ 159m in funds, up from £ 190m in 2017 / 18 due to a significant improvement in payments to clubs.

With Euro 2020 now Euro 2021, and no guarantees that the supporters will be back in the stadiums or that the business income so abundant in normal times will flow anywhere as usual, the last thing the UEFA is a challenge to the supremacy of the Champions League and its ability to shoot. in the big dollars.

But FIFA has its own problems.

Their own study found that the impact of the coronavirus on clubs across the global game has stung to the tune of £ 11.1 billion.

World football’s governing body will want to improve as many opportunities as possible to maximize revenue streams at a time when broadcasters are the least eager they have ever been, stressed in DAZN’s decision to shut down. rights agreement with UEFA a year earlier for their Southeast Asia. territory which includes Japan, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan.

Speaking on the football podcast award, football finance expert Kieran Maguire said: “FIFA is making money every fourth year and losing money three out of four years and they are very jealous. of UEFA because the Champions League is an incredibly successful competition of one. It delivers bums on the seats, it delivers eyeballs and it has huge business partners.

“The FIFA executives wanted to expand the World Club Championship to 24 clubs, and it never really generated much traction, so it’s an alternative to that.

“If that increases the power of FIFA and decreases the power of UEFA, you can see how excited the people of FIFA would be if that happened. ”

Liverpool FC highlights

All of this puts FIFA and UEFA on a collision course as they both seek ways to manage unprecedented times.

The idea of ​​a European Premier League has generally sounded with opportunity, and it has presented itself again with the coronavirus and the impact it is having on club finances around the world, from top to bottom.

And it looks like Liverpool are placed at the heart of it all.

One of those reportedly up for discussion around the idea, one of the biggest and most recognizable names in world football, huge draw for business partners due to their staggering global reach, the Reds will find themselves probably in the middle of a tugboat. war between FIFA and UEFA if this idea continues to progress.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino appeared to throw cold water on the idea on Thursday, although it’s an issue that won’t go away anytime soon, it seems, given the robust response from UEFA reports.

In an interview published by the German newspaper Aargauer Zeitung and other Swiss regional media, Infantino said: “As president of FIFA, I am interested in the Club World Cup, not the Super League.

“For me, it’s not Bayern Munich against Liverpool, but Bayern against Boca Juniors.

“Liverpool have 180 million fans around the world. Flamengo has 40 million fans and 39 million of them are in Brazil. Liverpool have maybe 5 million fans in England and 175 million fans around the world, ”he added.

“I want clubs outside of Europe to have global appeal in the future. This is my vision: to have 50 clubs and 50 national teams that can become world champions. ”

FIFA had previously declined to comment on the proposals.

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