Officials from UEFA and the European Club Association have begun meetings to discuss some radical new changes to the biggest and richest club competition in the world, the Champions League.
The European Club Association want to propose some hugely controversial and potentially revolutionary changes to the Champions League, including the introduction of relegation and promotion.
The organisation, which represents all of the major clubs on the European continent, has started talks with UEFA about the structure of continental competitions and believes it is a ‘logical’ move to introduce promotion and relegation, similar to the how it has been introduced successfully to international football through the UEFA Nations League.
Chairman of the European Club Association, Andrea Agnelli, has said that promotion and relegation was ‘natural’ in leagues throughout Europe, so it ‘might be logical internationally’.
Agnelli, who is also the the chairman of Italian champions and current Serie A leaders, Juventus, revealed that because the international match structure is mapped out in advance for the next five years, discussions between the European Club Association and UEFA could last as long as 18 months before any agreement can be made. This would mean there would be no changes occurring until 2024 at the earliest, avoiding any major impact to the Premier League and other domestic leagues until then.
Discussions have also taken place around potentially moving when Champions League games take place, with weekend’s suggested, whilst Agnelli revealed that increasing the number of teams in a group format to eight instead of the current four, which would allow for more matches for the teams involved, was being discussed and not ruled out..
However, it is important to point out that UEFA have only recently ruled out any prospect of a European Super League. Yet these suggested changes to the format of the most watched club competition on the planet, which attracts the best players from every corner of the globe, are spookily similar to what has apparently already been dismissed.
One of the other contentious proposals from the European Club Association is for all major leagues in Europe, i.e. the Premier League, La Liga, and Serie A, to arrange their fixtures alongside each other to reduce the competition for TV viewers around the world. This arrogant suggestion is surely going to infuriate clubs deemed not worthy of having their fixtures scheduled to avoid times when other teams are playing.
Another suggestion was to have fewer international breaks, but to make them longer throughout the season, to align competitions like the European Championship and Copa America with each other to make it easier for club’s to plan, whilst also limiting the number of domestic games in a single season.
Any radical changes to the Champions League is likely to be met by fierce opposition from the Premier League, who have seen a huge rise in TV revenue of 47% under the first year of their current TV deal. This now means that the bottom-placed Premier League team currently earns more in prize money and from television rights than the champions of France.