UEFA has already announced major reforms to expand the Champions League, and is now reportedly close to securing a COVID-19 aid package for clubs ©Getty Images

UEFA is reportedly closing in on securing a rescue package of up to €6 billion (£5.1 billion/$7.1 billion) to help football clubs recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Clubs across Europe have seen their matchday revenues significantly reduced or even wiped out since the pandemic started impacting football on the continent in February and March 2020, while a decline in broadcasting revenues in several countries has compounded these woes.

A report in the Deloitte annual review of finance in July found that European football's revenue in 2019-2020 had fallen for the first time since 2008-2009, with clubs' combined revenue declining by about €3.7 billion (£3.1 billion/$4.4 billion) - a decrease of approximately 13 per cent.

In April, 12 of Europe’s top clubs committed to a breakaway The Super League, with American bank JP Morgan financing the project to the tune of around $5 billion (£3.6 billion/€4.2 billion), but it collapsed after 72 hours as nine clubs withdrew amid a huge backlash from fans, domestic leagues, UEFA and FIFA.

However, Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid and Italian club Juventus remain publicly committed to The Super League.

Legal disputes between the trio and UEFA are ongoing.

European football has felt the financial impact of games being held behind closed doors during the COVID-19 pandemic ©Getty Images
European football has felt the financial impact of games being held behind closed doors during the COVID-19 pandemic ©Getty Images

Bloomberg reports that full details of UEFA’s plan for an aid package are to be revealed in the coming weeks, but that sources said clubs will have access to a funding facility of between €2 billion (£1.7 billion/$2.4 billion) and €6 billion (£5.1 billion/$7.1 billion).

They will be allowed to borrow at lower rates and restructure existing debt over five to seven years, while an emergency fund for potential future crises will be created as reforms made to the rules for financial fair play.

UEFA has been in talks with Centricus Asset Management since April over financing its plans, according to reports.

According to the Bloomberg report, UEFA is also considering introducing a player salary cap.

In April, UEFA announced reforms to its Champions League which will see it expand to 36 clubs and safeguard places for the two highest-ranked clubs by coefficient who qualified for UEFA's other European club competitions but not the Champions League automatically.

The new format will see teams play 10 group games against 10 different opponents, with the top eight of the 36 advancing to the round of 16 and those ranked ninth to 24th entering a playoff round.

The 100 extra Champions League matches which would take place as part of the reforms are expected to boost matchday, sponsorship and broadcasting revenue.

However, the plans have also drawn fierce criticism from fans' groups, in particular for their potential impact on Europe's mid-sized leagues and domestic football.