UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino has hailed the start of a "brand new journey" as the European club competitions get under way for another eventful campaign.
Speaking at the draw ceremonies for the first and second qualifying rounds of the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League at the House of European Football in Nyon, Mr Infantino said the clubs taking part at this stage had the ideal opportunity to make an early impression and give their supporters excitement, entertainment and the hope of possible surprise results.
Mr Infantino reminded those present that the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League finals had taken place just 16 and 26 days ago respectively. "It's no exaggeration to say that football in Europe is constantly on the move; we're starting a brand new journey in this most prestigious and attractive of competitions," he said at the UEFA Champions League draw.
"You can be proud of making your own contribution to the UEFA Champions League's success story," he told the clubs. "In the coming weeks, you will no doubt be striving to make the positive early headlines as the action gets under way. You will have an excellent opportunity to show your progress on and off the field.
"Football gives us every right to dream; this is the beauty of the game. Many congratulations on your qualification for the UEFA Champions League, and our best wishes are with you as you embark on what you hope will be an unforgettable adventure."
"A new three-year cycle is also opening," Mr Infantino reflected, referring to both competitions. "Among other things, thanks to the commercial success of our competitions, the shares distributed to the clubs in the qualifying rounds will be much richer, with an overall increase in the pot of around 70%."
Turning to the UEFA Europa League, the UEFA General Secretary anticipated "a season sure to bring unforgettable matches, memorable moments and superb individual displays.
"As the clubs that are setting out in the UEFA Europa League at the start of this new season, you will be making an important early contribution to setting the standards in a competition which is now an established and attractive feature of the European football landscape."
"I'm certain that your fans will also relish this wonderful opportunity to follow your team's fortunes on the European stage," Mr Infantino concluded.
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