Clubs 'want Europa League winners to qualify for Champions League'

Idea has been mooted to improve popularity of Europe's second competition

A majority of leading clubs want to see the Europa League winners or finalists qualify for the Champions League.

A survey carried out by the European Clubs Association (ECA), which represents 207 of the top clubs in Europe, showed most were satisfied with the current structure of the tournaments but 61% would welcome the extra incentive for the Europa League.

UEFA president Michel Platini has stated that all proposals will be considered, with any changes starting in 2015.

The ECA said 87 member clubs from 36 countries responded to the survey, and that:

:: 75% expressed "satisfaction" or "extreme satisfaction" with the current structure and format of UEFA's club competitions

:: 92% believe the Champions League and the Europa League should continue to exist in parallel

:: 61% would welcome offering the Europa League winner and/or finalists qualifying directly for the Champions League group stage the following season.

An ECA statement said: "The results of the survey clearly show that European clubs are very happy with the current competitions and do not wish to see major changes to their structure.

"The option whereby the UEFA Europa League winner/finalists automatically qualify for the UEFA Champions League group stage of the new season raised some interest and support provided that the effects on the access list are carefully considered."

The clubs were unable to agree on whether third-party ownership (TPO) - where players can be owned or part-owned by agents or other individuals rather than clubs - should be prohibited, as it is in England.

It is a common practice in some countries on the continent, such as Portugal, but UEFA also want it banned.

The ECA statement added: "It was made clear that TPO is a very complex phenomenon as there are many different aspects to the way it operates.

"Consequently, there is no unanimity among ECA members as to whether TPO should be banned or not. ECA will further assess the merits and impact of TPO on the game and the repercussions of a possible ban."

PA

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