After a two-year break due to the COVID pandemic, we were back again at the House of European football in Nyon, Switzerland, to share our views on the main issues affecting European club competitions and to discuss various topics and challenges concerning our work. This year’s edition of the UEFA Elite Club Coaches Forum focused primarily on the new club competition format, financial sustainability, and refereeing.
As is standard in these meetings, everything was well organised as we exchanged views on the main issues regarding European club competitions and discussed various questions and challenges related to our work.
The new format of UEFA’s club competitions for 2024-27 was one of the main points of discussion, and it isn’t an easy one. The idea is to give more clubs the chance to compete in Europe, to make a fair competition, also with competitive games to maintain broadcasters’ interest and each club’s revenue. Plus, to play less games because of the busy international and domestic calendars.
Problems to resolve are the dates in which to play these games and where to play them. It was an open exchange of opinions to see what could be done in the best possible way.
As I said, this is not an easy task, and it is very difficult to keep everybody happy.
Another topic was the evolution of the financial sustainability system for participating clubs in European competitions; the famous Financial Fair Play. One of the key things here is to ensure that the balance between income and wage bills is around 60%, to guarantee the future of the clubs. A further issue was the number of players that you can get on loan, to try to have some control over bigger clubs moving players around different teams and therefore creating a disadvantage for the others.
In addition, special attention was placed on matters relating to refereeing, covering topics such as the VAR line of intervention and how much technology is progressing on that matter. The Laws of the Game, with a special focus on the issue of hand balls, makes it often very difficult to judge exactly what’s right and what’s wrong. Often, it depends on whether you’re the coach of one team or the other, because everyone interprets the rule in their own way. But we agreed that a penalty, a red card, and a one game suspension is too much punishment for the last defender, and this is something to consider in the future.
We also talked about and compared some referee statistics from UEFA competitions and domestic leagues.
As the UEFA's technical director and chief of football, Zvonimir Boban said: "This forum is an excellent platform for coaches to share their views on the game, its challenges and its evolution."
The star-studded list of Europe’s top coaches who participated in the forum include: Erik ten Hag (Manchester United FC), Carlo Ancelotti (Real Madrid CF), Luciano Spalletti (SSC Napoli), Paulo Fonseca (LOSC Lille), Christophe Galtier (Paris Saint-Germain), Oliver Glasner (Eintracht Frankfurt), David Moyes (West Ham United FC), Roger Schmidt (SL Benfica), Rafa Benítez and Thomas Tuchel.
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