It's official: Europe's top clubs are kings after penning new deal with UEFA
By Matt Lawton
PUBLISHED: 22:54 GMT, 22 March 2012 | UPDATED: 22:54 GMT, 22 March 2012
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The power in world football appeared to be shifting significantly towards Europe's leading clubs after UEFA agreed to new proposals with the European Club Association.
They have agreed to back changes to the international calendar that will be considered by FIFA next week, including the scrapping of the August friendly along with a switch to nine international double-headers over any two year period.
But now UEFA will not be unable to change the format of the Champions League or the Europa League without first gaining agreement from the clubs.
All change: Europe's top clubs have agreed a new deal with UEFA
After meeting at the Ordinary UEFA congress in Istanbul this week, the ECA and UEFA signed a new 'memorandum of understanding' for the next six years.
A statement issued by the ECA said the new agreement would 'support the proposed future international calendar that will be presented to the FIFA Executive Committee next week for approval. This calendar should basically be made up of nine double-headers over a two-year period with no single friendlies. The August friendly match date would be removed.'
But the statement also said: 'In the future, the Club Competitionsâ€™ Committee, composed essentially of club representatives, will have a "Referral Right" on all decisions affecting club competitions. This reinforces the involvement of clubs in UEFA's decision-making process.
'Clubs will now receive an increased amount of â‚¬100million (Â£83.4m) from the UEFA EURO 2012 revenues, as recognition of the significant contribution of clubs to the success of the tournament. This amount will be further increased to â‚¬150million (Â£125.1m) for the UEFA EURO 2016 in France.'
Clubs contribution: UEFA have increased funds available to teams in recognition of their input
ECA Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said: 'Today is a historic day for European club football. With this agreement, UEFA clearly recognises the importance of clubs and the significant contribution they make to the success of national team football.
'The agreement reflects an improved balance between national team and club football and is a great success for the European football family. I sincerely thank UEFA President Michel Platini for his willingness to reach such an agreement with the clubs.'
Meanwhile, Platini said he was still waiting for an apology from Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards for comments he made in Qatar last week.
Richards accused FIFA and UEFA of stealing the global game off the English, before then making even more of a fool of himself by stumbling into a hotel water feature.
Listen up: Platini wants an apology from Richards over comment he made last week
An embarrassed Richards, also a vice chairman of the Football Association, said he would write to UEFA and FIFA to apologise.
Platini said: 'I read in an English media outlet he was going to send an email - maybe the email got lost in the corridors of UEFA but I never saw it.
'What he said was slightly surprising because I know Mr Richards' ingenuity. He said football was stolen from England and that a gang has done this. We are not a gang at UEFA and the English are so generous they have given football to the entire planet.
'Football now belongs to the whole world and I want to thank England for their gift to the world.'
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*Signing Ozil is a signing Bergkamp type moment for Arsenal. It changes things utterly.*