Monday March 8 2021
Agnelli: 'Football must change, I had fights with Ceferin'

Juventus President Andrea Agnelli insists ‘there are too many games that are not competitive’ and reveals ‘fights’ with UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin.

Agnelli participated in the ECA General Assembly as the Chairman of the European Club Association.

Agnelli began his speech talking about the impact of the COVID pandemic on Football.

“Collaboration and unity made us complete the 2019-20 season and the 2020-21 and manage the pandemic in terms of executing our competitions,” he said.

“Albeit we are no longer in full crisis, we are still very much impacted by the ongoing effects of the COVID pandemic. We have no fans in the stadiums and our revenues continue to be severely impacted.

“Players have been tested to their physical limits as they are forced to play in a severely congested fixture list.

“The revenue losses are between 6.5 and 8.5 billion across the two seasons, about 360 first division clubs need cash injections for an amount of €6 billion.

“The top-20 clubs in revenue faced a €1.1 billion hit in the 2020 season. And these are just the top-line figures. These hits are on our shoulders.

“COVID-19 has posed some serious questions over the sustainability of our business and governance model.

In the past six months, sustainability has also shown some in-depth interest from big commercial players and big financial institutions.

“If I think about what is currently happening in my country with the proposal that private equity CVC.

“I look at the governance projects, or some of the projects developed in some countries, or the backing of JP Morgan for the leaks that we’ve had over a European Super League.

“That has been on the media and is common knowledge to everybody.

“If there is an interest from these kinds of players and big financial institutions, it means there is a potential for a bright future within our industry.

“These individuals, contrary to some of our most common stakeholders, are not too interested in solidarity, but their interest is in return on investments.

“It means that our industry is an industry which his highly palatable for return in investments and that means if we change ourselves, we can look forward to those return in investment ourselves.

“Football, finance and governance are at a crossroads and this has been evident and exacerbated by the pandemic.

“It is our duty to intercept and act or else the risk is the one of imploding.”

But how can Football change?

“We have to put the fans at the centre. The current system is not delivering for modern fans.

“Researches show that many traditional assumptions about fans need to change. If we look at the research, we can say a third of fans globally follow at least two cubs, which is very different from a few years ago.

"Also, 10% of fans follow players and not clubs, 2/3 follow Football more for a modern fear of missing out or just because they like big events, 40% of the 16 to 24-year-old fans, the famous Gen Z, have no interest in Football whatsoever.

“There are too many games that are not competitive, both at a domestic and international level.

“Fans can’t be taken for granted and we have to deliver the best possible competition for them or we risk of losing them.

“That’s why I welcome the conversation that us, as ECA, have had in the last couple of months with UEFA for the development of the game.

“Although not present here, I’d like to thank President Ceferin for the arguments and almost the fights we had from October to December.

“But they have been very productive arguments and fights.”