The European Clubs’ Association meet in Paris this week to discuss reforms that would hugely change European football. The president of the DFB, who is also president of German club, Borussia Dortmund, has vowed to block these plans which would effectively abandon the current Champions League qualification criteria, citing it would “destroy” the European football pyramid. And he has the support of English clubs too.
Reinhard Rauball said he would block any plans being discussed by the European Clubs’ Association (ECA) to introduce 14 group matches instead of six, and a promotion/relegation system to replace all clubs qualifying directly from their own domestic competitions.
Rauball is correct as the ECA’s proposal would simply mean the Champions League would become a closed shop for Europe’s elite sides. The richest clubs would all but guarantee their place in the world’s leading competition, reaping the rewards of this tournament that many clubs would never get the opportunity to aim for.
Former Manchester United CEO, David Gill, who is the deputy chairman of UEFA’s club competitions committee, agrees that the ECA’s proposals are a bad idea and has expressed very serious concerns about their plans. Gill highlighted that the success of club’s like Tottenham Hotspur and Ajax this season was brilliant evidence that the tournament is still competitive and healthy, so there is no need to make changes to it.
It seems that the suggested changes would have little hope of being passed without widespread support from the Premier League and Bundesliga, as both leagues pride the traditions of their domestic game and put them ahead of the money grabbing members of the ECA.
Rauball said that the suggested relegation reforms to the Champions League would turn it into a typical American kind of competition, but in Europe we have an established football pyramid with league’s that regularly boast large attendances. Why would the ECA want to destroy it?
Although they will deny it, the ECA have an agenda to create a European Super League, and their proposed reforms to how you qualify for the Champions League is a step in that direction. It is their subtle way of ensuring the elite, who will likely never face the prospect of relegation from the tournament, remain playing in the Champions League each season to maximising the money they can make.
But this would just stifle competition in other’ domestic league’s across Europe. The concept of promotion would make it almost impossible for clubs to get into the tournament, considering the amount of them that would be clambering to get in.
It is very important that league’s such as England and Germany stand up to the ECA and block their proposals. The traditions and values of the Premier League and Bundesliga need to be protected to encourage hope for sides further down their specific football pyramids.