UEFA's Champions League reform plans face being derailed by European clubs


UEFA’s plans to reform  the Champions League face being derailed after European clubs dramatically objected to the proposals at the final moment, adding to widespread concerns.

The European governing body was believed to be ready to rubber stamp its Champions League plan at an executive committee meeting tomorrow, but now even more horse-trading will be required before a vote takes place.

Plans to dramatically expand the Champions League would have a 'devastating' effect on English football, it is claimed

Plans to dramatically expand the Champions League would have a ‘devastating’ effect on English football, it is claimed

It will be delayed until the next meeting of the executive on April 19. 

UEFA has been in discussions for months with clubs, leagues and football associations, but won’t want to allow a vote on the Champions League reforms unless it is confident they will be approved.

The plans include enlarging the Champions League from 32 to 36 teams, increasing the number of matches by 100, and giving preferential access to the continent’s biggest clubs from 2024.

UEFA has received objections from the FA, Premier League, as well as associations, leagues and small and medium-sized clubs across Europe.

The level of opposition, led by the European Leagues, has caused disquiet within the upper ranks of UEFA.

The governing body has been trying to balance competing interests after months of discussion and wanted broad agreement at its executive committee, but it finally lost confidence in forcing the vote through.

The Leagues have taken a hard line on the proposals. They have been a critic of increasing the number of matches in the group phase to 10 and the allocation of the four extra places in the competition.

Lars-Christer Olsson, president of the European Leagues, has led the campaign to change the proposals for the competition, and UEFA has been expected to make a decision this week

Lars-Christer Olsson, president of the European Leagues, has led the campaign to change the proposals for the competition, and UEFA has been expected to make a decision this week

The Leagues want extra places to go to new league winners, not to be recycled among the strongest leagues and clubs.

The influential Lars-Christer Olsson, the Leagues outgoing president, will be one of the representatives at the executive committee meeting. He is due to step down in April.

UEFA’s concerns were exacerbated today following a meeting of the Club Competitions Committee, which discussed the plans ahead of the final decision at the executive on Wednesday.

Aleksander Ceferin, president of UEFA, is chairman of the organisation's executive committee

Aleksander Ceferin, president of UEFA, is chairman of the organisation’s executive committee 

The committee, which includes Manchester United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and Manchester City’s chief executive Ferran Sorian, are believed to have objected to the revenue distribution and ownership models.

These determine how the competition is commercialised and how much money will go to the clubs and how much to UEFA, which distributes funds to member associations.

The powerful European Club Association (ECA) has beein in negotiation with UEFA over the format and management of the competition.

Sources suggest that the growing dissent from the European Leagues and clubs has created an opportunity for the ECA to put UEFA under greater pressure and extract further concessions. 

Under UEFA's proposals the Champions League would expand by four teams and 100 games

Under UEFA’s proposals the Champions League would expand by four teams and 100 games

UEFA and European Leagues Proposals for Champions League Reform
UEFA European Leagues
Increase teams from 32 to 36 Increase teams from 32 to 36
Of the four extra spots allocate:
-three using UEFA rankings
-one to fifth UEFA ranked country (France)
Of the four extra spots allocate:
-three to new champions of European l;eagues 
-one to fifth UEFA ranked country (France)
Increase group phase matches within
a ‘Swiss model’ from 6 to 10 
Increase group phase matches within
a Swiss model from 6 to 8 
Increase matchdays by four  Increase match days by two 
Increase total number of games by 100  Increase total number of games by 64 
No decision on revenue distribtion
until after format of the competition is
agreed 
Agree revenue distributuon at the
same time as the format of the
competition,including:
-increase  payments to non
participating clubs from 4% to 5%
-even up earnings between
UEFA’s European competitions

Many of the clubs represented on the 17-member UEFA Club Competitions Committee are also prominent players in the ECA. 

The backdrop to the protracted discussions on Champions League reform are competing proposals for the European Super League.

Detailed plans for that scheme emerged in January and took UEFA’s president Aleksander Ceferin and his colleagues by surprise. While the super league has been long discussed, this iteration included more detailed financial plans and formats.

The super league is believed to be driven by Europe’s biggest clubs, including, Real Madrid, AC Milan and Manchester United and would be a direct competitior to UEFA’s Champions League proposal.

Crystal Palace chairman, Steve Parish, led objections to the plans at a European meeting

Crystal Palace chairman, Steve Parish, led objections to the plans at a European meeting

While the threat of the European Super League, which would be a virtually closed competition for Europe’s most powerful clubs, caused alarm, the alternative version of the Champions League now under discussion has been described as ‘devastating’ for English football.

At a meeting organised by the European Leagues earlier this month, more than 300 clubs, as well as representatives from the EFL, were withering in thheir criticism of the plans.

Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish said the moves would eventually usher in a European Super League by the back door.

‘We seem to be expected to accept these proposals because they are not as bad as they could have been,’ he said.

‘I can’t quite buy into that thinking. that we should be ever so grateful it is only 100 extra games.

‘This will have a quite devastating effect on domestic competition in England.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.