Uefa centralises rights to new Women’s Champions League group stage

Uefa has unveiled plans to centralise all media rights from the group stage onwards in a revamped Women’s Champions League from the 2021-22 season onwards.

Currently, only the broadcast rights to the final are centrally marketed by football’s European governing body, with the clubs responsible for the sale of rights to their home leg in all earlier knockout rounds.

However, under the new approach, Uefa will market the media rights from a new 16-team group stage onwards, with the governing body producing coverage of every match for television and digital platforms.

Sponsorship rights will be partially centralised for Uefa women’s football sponsors from the group stage onwards. Sponsorship rights to the women’s Champions League final were previously bundled with the (centralised) rights to the men Champions League.

The move forms part of Uefa’s increasing efforts to generate more commercial value from the women’s game and establish standalone sponsors for the women’s tournments. Last year, the Nyon-based body appointed TRM Partners, the UK-based sponsorship agency, to sell sponsorship rights to the women’s competitions and after separating the rights from the men’s competitions.

Fashion brand Esprit was the latest sponsor to back Uefa’s women’s competitions, coming on board as the official branded apparel partner in a deal announced in October.

In December 2018, Visa signed a seven-year deal to become the first dedicated sponsor to women’s football in Europe. This was followed by the addition of Nike as Official Match Ball Supplier to Uefa’s women’s football tournaments. SportBusiness understands that this deal is worth about €900,000 ($996,600) per year

A format of four groups of four teams is to be introduced as teams play each other home and away over six matchday, replicating the established group stage in the men’s Uefa Champions League.

The quarter-finals and semi-finals will remain two-legged affairs before a one-off final takes place the weekend before the men’s Champions League final.

The changes, which have been ratified today (Wednesday) by the Uefa Executive Committee following consultations with the European Club Association and the clubs themselves, will lead to a 20-per-cent increase in the number of matches.

This will be the third competition format for Uefa’s top women’s club tournament, following earlier iterations with the Women’s Cup from 2001-02 until 2008-09, before the Women’s Champions League was introduced in 2009-10 with a two-legged knockout competition following a qualifying round of mini tournaments at single venues.