Top leagues call for votes and cash from UEFA

January 15, 2007

BRUSSELS, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Europe's top leagues will seek more power and cash from European soccer's governing body UEFA within the next 12 months, the chief executive of the European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) said on Monday.

The EPFL, which represents 15 top European leagues including the English Premier League, Italy's Serie A, Spain's Primera Liga and the German Bundesliga, will ask UEFA for a vote in how the game is run.

At present, only UEFA's 52 member associations have any power within the Swiss-based organisation and are entitled to profits from its European Championship.

Money generated by UEFA competitions, such as the Champions League and UEFA Cup, are shared among the associations and teams involved but the EPFL wants a say in how it is distributed and more cash for those clubs which do not qualify for Europe.

'This is not a revolution but an evolution,' chief executive Emanuel Madeiros said after an EPFL meeting in Brussels.

'Considering the leagues generate 88 percent of the game's revenue, it is only democratic that we have a say. We will be seeking to start a framework for full UEFA membership.'

While the exact proportions of power and revenue being sought are still under discussion, Madeiros pointed to the influence of the leagues at domestic level as the way forward.

'In France, the league has around a third of the power, while in other countries such as England the leagues have at least 25 percent of votes within their association,' he said.

Madeiros said his organisation could be the solution to bridging the gap and overcoming the continuing spat between Europe's top clubs and those running the game around the world.

Soccer's world governing body FIFA, of which UEFA is a member, is currently embroiled in a war of words and two court cases with the G14, representing 18 of Europe's most powerful clubs, over how the beautiful game should be run.

A case taken by Belgium's Charleroi and the G14 against FIFA seeking compensation over a player injured while representing his country, is before the European Court of Justice and a similar case is pending involving Olympique Lyon in France.

'We accept that the G14 has the right to exist and lobby, but we represent not just the cream of the crop but over 500 clubs of all sizes,' Madeiros said.

'But at the same time we are not looking to be Robin Hood by robbing from the rich clubs and giving to the poor. What we are seeking is a fair balance.'