UEFA near centralised TV rights agreement

NYON - UEFA is moving towards centralised marketing of television rights for the region's World Cup and European Championship qualifying matches.

General secretary Gianni Infantino said European soccer's governing body was close to getting the necessary agreement from all 53 member associations.

"We think we will have the support of all 53 before March," he told reporters on Friday. "There is a very, very big support from most associations.

UEFA expects the new arrangements to come into effect for the Euro 2016 qualifiers.

"We are still discussing with some of the associations because there are specific situations in many countries, but the vast, vast majority is completely on board and it's just a question of fine-tuning.

"Everyone is quite confident and at the Congress in March we will present the structure of media rights for the qualifiers in the future.

"We are not going to push through anything, we are discussing, we are acting by consensus."

Under the current system, individual federations negotiate television rights for their home games.

The smaller federations say this leaves them hoping to draw a crowd-pulling team which would bring in more revenue, rather than weaker opposition which would mean less income but a better chance of qualifying.

They say it also makes financial planning more difficult and, under the proposed centralised system, income would be more evenly spread.

Negotiations towards the change have been going on for over a year.

Infantino added there were no concrete plans to change the European soccer seasons from winter to summer.

"There isn't any specific proposal to switch things from winter to summer, the important thing is that we need to find the right balance between the matches played by national teams and club matches," he said.

"Another important matter is to make sure players get enough time to recover between matches."