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New European football body launched to give voice to smaller clubs

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A new body, the Union of European Clubs (UEC), launched on Monday saying its aim was to represent "small and medium-sized" football clubs in a landscape dominated by a rich elite.

The UEC was launched in Brussels, where it will be based, and said it intended "to give a voice" to around 1,400 professional clubs in Europe who, without being involved in any of UEFA's three club competitions, do not have any proper representation among the sport's governance.

The exact structure of the organisation remains vague as it is yet to appoint a management team or publish statutes.

However, the UEC claimed at its unveiling that 40 clubs from 25 countries had already joined up, with Premier League side Crystal Palace, Belgian league high-fliers Union Saint-Gilloise and Lokomotiva Zagreb of Croatia all at the launch.

It said it intends to function "in addition to" the powerful European Club Association (ECA) which, founded in 2008 and with more than 300 members, is the only existing body of the continent's clubs which is represented on UEFA's executive committee.

Neither UEFA nor the ECA, which together run Europe's most lucrative club competitions including the Champions League, were willing to comment on the new organisation.

UEFA and the ECA also have an agreement with world football's governing body FIFA over the international match calendar and compensation payments to clubs for the release of players to international duty.

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