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new deal Big changes to Champions League commercial deals aimed to placate top clubs

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The Champions League Trophy stands on display. Photo credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images

The Champions League Trophy stands on display. Photo credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images

The Champions League Trophy stands on display. Photo credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images

Europe’s clubs are set to have a much bigger say in commercial deals around the new-look Champions League.

European football’s governing body announced on Tuesday night it was starting the tender process for a new partner to sell the rights to its men’s club competitions for the 2024-27 cycle.

The competitions are set for a revamp from 2024, with the current Champions League group stage comprised of eight groups of four due to be replaced by one 36-team league, where each team plays 10 matches in a so-called ‘Swiss system’ before moving on to the knockout stage.

The announcement means TEAM Marketing, which has had an exclusive partnership with UEFA for more than 25 years, will have to apply alongside other interested parties.

UEFA’s announcement on Tuesday said the purpose of the tender process was “to maximise the significant commercial opportunities available from the new post-2024 format for the UEFA club competitions in the future media and sponsorship landscape”.

UEFA said the process of selling rights for the 2024-27 cycle would start in the second quarter of next year.

The news has been interpreted by sources close to the matter as UEFA ceding some of its commercial control over the competitions to the clubs who generate the revenue.

European Club Association chairman Nasser Al Khelaifi spoke last month about the need for a “new model” for commercialising the competitions to help clubs achieve financial stability in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said at the organisation’s general assembly: “Most pressingly, we need to work with UEFA to better optimise revenues from club competitions.

“To that end, as you know, we have recently negotiated a letter of intent with UEFA to establish a new model for commercialising UEFA club competitions.

“This new model will be a joint venture between the ECA and UEFA with ultimate responsibility for the business and commercial side of the club competitions, resulting in new and better commercial rights strategies and management.

“In addition, we will also work with UEFA on ways to maximise the value of the new post-2024 format – known as ‘the Swiss model’ – and to improve club relationships with national associations, which is in everyone’s interests.”

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