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European clubs chief warns of heavy virus losses for teams

London (AFP) – European Club Association chairman Andrea Agnelli warned on Tuesday that football was still in “crisis-management” mode, predicting damaging financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic over the next few years.

Agnelli said rebates owed to Champions League and Europa League broadcasters totalled 575 million euros ($678 million) and he predicted a revenue drop for clubs of four billion euros over two years.

The Juventus chairman said the overall value of the transfer market could plummet by up to one-third.

The disruption caused to European club competitions by the Covid-19 pandemic has left rights-holders seeking compensation from UEFA, the continent’s governing body.

“We have seen very important rebates to the principal broadcasters both at domestic level and at international level,” he told the ECA general assembly, being held by videoconference.

“We have seen a £330 million ($430 million, 365 million euros) rebate in the Premier League, we have seen a downturn in the Bundesliga domestic rights of about 200 million euros and we are in the process of finalising the account with UEFA with a reduction of around 575 million euros for the international club competitions, and that is all money that is not going to be distributed.

“We (European clubs) are looking at a revenue decrease of approximately four billion euros in the next two years.”

The ECA chairman said the absence of fans had wiped out a crucial source of income, predicting a downturn in sponsorship revenue and a 20 to 30 percent drop in the overall value of the transfer market.

He said talks over changes to the format of European club competitions had stalled with the continent’s leading sides in “crisis management” mode.

The Italian has been one of the leading voices in calling for a revamp of continental competitions and how teams qualify for them from 2024 to give clubs greater certainty over revenue.

However, he accepts those discussions have had to be put on hold.

“We will need to stall before we can properly address what we want to have in the future,” he said. “We need to have a fairly consistent understanding of what the significance at the economic level (of the pandemic) has been for clubs.”

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin expressed his pride at how the European football community had worked to complete domestic and continental competitions, and highlighted the importance of a united approach when discussions resumed over the future shape of European football.

“The future is in our hands,” the Slovenian told club delegates.

“Our mutual trust and sound partnership will bring us soon to identify formulas to consolidate the incredible success story of the UEFA club competitions. If we are united, football will win.”

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