EPFL draft charter to make all clubs equal

THE European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) continued their development in Dublin yesterday by drafting a constitution which will now be put before each member association, including the Eircom League.

It is hoped the constitution will be finalised at the group’s December meeting in Milan and will give power to this body, which aims to represent every club within the EU and break the control of Europe’s biggest clubs.

While the increased power of bodies like G14 have made many fearful of the creation of a European Superleague, they have no official status within UEFA, unlike the EPFL.

“We are representative of every club, that’s the main thing about this group,” said David Richards, chairman of the EPFL and the FA Premier League.

“There might be a bit of inequality in football, but we are working towards getting rid of that. That’s what EPFL is about. Whether you are a small, medium or big club, everyone is equal. We discuss all the issues that affect each club and each league gets one vote. So there is no inequality.”

The acceptance of a constitution - which outlines articles on all issues from transfer windows to plastic pitches - will increase the EPFL’s power.

Although it was formed in 1998 by the Premier League as a European league forum - the Eircom League joined in July of this year - so far it has been little more than a talking shop because there has been no constitution.

However, following their successful two-day meeting in Dublin, Richards believes things will change.

“The aim is to consolidate European football and work towards one goal of unity within European football.”

One of the major developments from the meeting was a draft recommendation on public access to information on exclusive broadcast rights to major sporting events.

Backed by other European leagues, it should give more weight to the arguments of smaller leagues, like the Eircom League.

“We can all work towards the same ideals as regards transfers, how young players are treated and all leagues involved will have a great working relationship in the future.”

Eircom League acting general manager Michael Hayes said: “It is an influential body, and it is growing in stature, now the constitution has been formed. It also has official recognition by UEFA and it will become the voice of leagues in Europe and because of that, the voice of the clubs.

“G14 is a powerful group, because of the make-up of its clubs, but it has no official status,” says Hayes.

“This is for all the professional clubs within the EU and it is open for other EU member countries to join.”

Currently, the representatives are from the Irish, English, Scottish, Belgian, French, Dutch, German, Austrian, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Greek, Danish, Swedish and Finnish leagues.

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