UEFA's Top Executive Programme (TEP) has made a tangible difference for UEFA's member associations since its inception in 2005. The programme operates on the strategic crossroads between football politics and football development. It supports the member associations' top executives in their decision-making role by providing, analysing and discussing relevant facts and figures on strategic issues in order to further develop the game specifically in organisational and business aspects.
The key principles of the programme are that it is fact-based ("know your top executives in their local context"), demand-driven ("we go where the associations take us"), results-oriented (rather than tool-oriented) and its focus is on tangible decisions and development rather than on education.
UEFA TEP has initiated and facilitated several landslide decisions, re-shaping the future European football landscape:
• The enlargement of the UEFA European Football Championship final round from 16 to 24 nations, from 2016. This historic decision in 2008 will help to develop the game further across many (mostly mid-sized and smaller) associations, in sporting, social and financial terms.
• The centralisation of the media rights of national team qualification matches ('European Qualifiers'), starting in 2014. Preceding this decision in 2011, TEP had already assisted many associations by providing information on the true value of their media rights and thus enabling associations to negotiate better media rights deals. This work proved to be the predecessor for the landslide decision to centralise all these rights in order to further optimise the exposure and values of national team football.
• The decision to stage the UEFA EURO 2020 final tournament in various major cities throughout Europe, rather than a tournament in one or two host countries. The 'EURO for Europe' concept followed an initial idea by the UEFA President Michel Platini. The concept was extensively discussed with the member associations during the 2012 TEP round tables and received positive response, which prompted the innovative move in 2013.
All these strategic decisions were driven by clear sporting merits and will result in substantially higher and guaranteed revenues for associations, allowing them to invest more in football and grassroots development, good governance and social responsibility activities.
Besides helping to generate higher revenues, UEFA's Top Executive Programme also helps associations to save costs:
• UEFA Kit Assistance Scheme: 15 of the smallest UEFA member associations receive a basic football kit and equipment package for free for their senior national team and Under-21 team, as well as for their top referees. This scheme saves them up to €300,000 each.
• Football Management Systems (FMS) project: 18 associations benefited from this free UEFA service of analysing the current status and potential needs for their IT and football management system solutions. The target is that by the end of 2014 all UEFA national associations will have good FMS systems to run their domestic and international operations in an effective and efficient way. Some associations used the outcomes for internal solutions, other associations participated in a centralised FMS tender meeting, organised by TEP, choosing the most suitable provider for their new FMS system. The centralised tender helped these associations to find the best systems and to save costs.
Another remarkable result of the programme is the creation of the first cross-border competition ever with a direct link to UEFA competitions. TEP played a key role in the development of the BeNe League, a cross-border league between the highest women's divisions in Belgium and the Netherlands which started in August 2012, and is offering the same service to other associations with similar requests.
TEP also organises small discussion platforms, TEP round tables, to listen to the needs and wishes of associations' top management, as well as to give and receive feedback on the follow-up of previous round table discussions. UEFA does not set the agenda for these informal meetings but rather provides the open forum for the participants, the UEFA member associations' presidents and general secretaries, to discuss the latest trends and developments in the world of football. Often the discussions centre around possibilities to increase revenue and/or save costs, as well as to improve their governance and social responsibility efforts.
The promising results of these TEP round-table meetings have led UEFA to extend this successful formula further by also organising 'big round tables', i.e. TEP Strategy Meetings with the presidents and general-secretaries of all national associations at the same time. This approach will ultimately provide a platform for supporting associations on a one-to-one tailored consultancy basis.
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