Champions League revamp faces resistance from European Leagues – The Athletic

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What are the proposals?

UEFA wants to change the structure of the Champions League, growing the tournament from 32 teams to 36.

To do this the format of eight groups of four teams would be scrapped.

Instead, UEFA would adopt a 36-team “Swiss model” league, in which each club would play 10 games: five at home, five away. The fixtures will be based on seedings and the teams will be ranked from one to 36.

The top eight will advance automatically to a 16-team knockout round, and the next 16 teams will go into a play-off round to decide those final eight slots.

Such a structure would have obvious calendar implications for Europe’s domestic leagues and could lead to domestic cup competitors, such as the Carabao Cup, being axed.

How has European Leagues responded?

European Leagues held an extraordinary general meeting on Friday to discuss the plans.

“The European Leagues have raised strong concerns about more matchdays in such a flexible system in an already very congested calendar,” the organisation said in a statement.

“They also questioned the possible impact of access as well as commercial components on the sporting and financial balance of domestic leagues. Finally, they discussed several options regarding financial redistribution.”

What do they like about the plans?

The statement was not all negative.

“The European leagues welcome the consultation process led by UEFA and consider that the vision based on the so-called “Swiss Model” is an improvement compared to the more radical proposals that emerged in 2019,” the organisation added.

In 2019 UEFA proposed a Champions League containing four groups of eight clubs, as opposed to eight groups of four, which would have resulted in 14 group stage games, some of which were intended to be played at weekends.

What happens next?

There is a meeting between UEFA and the member associations planned for next week. There, UEFA is expected to formally propose the “Swiss Model” plan to the 55 European associations.

It is understood that UEFA would like there to be a resolution before the next UEFA congress, which is scheduled on April 20 in Montreux, Switzerland.

In the meantime, discussions will continue. Progress is likely to revolve around whether a consensus can be reached on the “financial redistribution” mentioned in the European Leagues statement. While UEFA wish to confirm their proposals for a new-look Champions League, clubs are understood to be determined to first agree on how prize money will be distributed.

Anything else I need to know?

Plenty. For the latest on the future of the Champions League and the ‘Swiss Model’, Go Deeper with The Athletic’s Matt Slater below.

(Photo: Michael Regan – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

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