Paris St Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has been appointed as the new European Club Association chairman in place of Andrea Agnelli, one of the architects of the doomed Super League.
The Qatari resisted repeated attempts to persuade him and his club to become founder members of the breakaway league.
He now finds himself at the helm of the ECA, which traditionally has been viewed as lobbying on behalf of the continent’s richest clubs, but seems set to be more widely representative in the wake of the rifts caused by the Super League controversy.
Al-Khelaifi said: “I am honoured and humbled to have been appointed by my fellow ECA executive board members as chairman.
“The leadership, integrity and togetherness of our organisation has never been more required than at this pivotal moment in European football.
“I will provide my unconditional commitment to the entire football community: that means to all ECA member clubs from every European nation, and to the fans and communities they represent.
“I, alongside all my fellow ECA board members and clubs, am looking to reinforce ECA in its role as the legitimate and singular voice of Europe’s clubs.
“Our game, adored by generations of supporters, will only prosper under unity, and it is our duty as the custodians of football to fulfil this obligation.”
The reference to “unity” may give hope of a truce to the 12 breakaway clubs who resigned from the ECA at the weekend to pursue their new competition.
The statement confirming Al-Khelaifi’s appointment said: “Following the unprecedented events of recent days which has seen attempts to undermine the entire European football community, ECA – representing the leading football clubs of Europe – welcomes the decision from its former member clubs not to pursue their purported ‘Super League’ project, following the seismic and universal condemnation of the project by the entire football community and across society as a whole.
“ECA firmly believes this project could not succeed because football, at its core, is based on openness, sporting excellence and an inherent connection between everyone across the football family.
“Football is for everybody. Recent events have been a reminder that club owners are merely custodians of their clubs, which are historic beacons that mean so much to fans and their communities. ECA believes that it is the responsibility of every member club to ensure that we develop football and leave it in a better place for the next generation; not to dismantle it purely for financial gain.”
The input and pressure of some of the ECA’s former members helped win concessions from UEFA such as an increase in the number of matches in the group stage of the new-look Champions League from six to 10, and the provision of two qualification spots for teams based on past European pedigree.
It is understood that European Leagues, another group lobbying UEFA on behalf of 37 domestic leagues across 30 countries, is prepared to challenge the new format and seek a reduction in the number of matches and to scrap the coefficient qualification.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said: “I would like to congratulate the ECA for choosing Nasser as their new chairman.
“Football needs good people in senior roles and Nasser is someone who has shown he is capable of looking after the interests of more clubs than just his own – which should be a prerequisite for the position of ECA chair.
“I look forward to working with him to shape the future of club football at a European level. He is a man I can trust.”