PREMIER LEAGUE club fears over the potential cost of European football’s planned revamp could break out into open conflict today.
The latest ‘virtual shareholder’ meeting of the 20 clubs will be dominated by a debate over Uefa’s latest proposals for a 36-team Champions League from 2024.
Anger over the plans has been simmering for a fortnight with the Big Six pitted against a number of their rivals.
Those outside the regular Euro competitors are furious at the concept of past performances in the Champions League and Europa League allowing a backdoor route into the elite even if clubs miss out on the top four.
But there is rising concern over the financial repercussions of extending Europe’s biggest club competition from 125 games per season to 225.
A number of Prem clubs believe that the Big Six are pushing a development which would benefit them at the expense of their domestic rivals by ensuring they take larger slices of a much bigger Euro pie.
At the same time, it is believed that domestic league deals, including for the Prem, will take a 30 per cent or even greater hit as broadcasters do not have bottomless funds in a market upended by the Covid crisis.
And there is also genuine worry that allowing clubs to access the new-look Champions League by virtue of their Uefa coefficient could effectively kill off the drama – and financial appeal – of the race for the top four.
Those issues are expected to be vented across the virtual boardroom table, putting Prem chief executive Richard Masters in a difficult position to act as the honest broker between the clubs in conflict.
League bosses are determined to try to uphold their commercial advantages compared to the other members of the Big Five domestic competitions in Spain, Germany, Italy and France.
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At the same time, they need to keep the Big Six on board and prevent any prospect of them joining the proposed breakaway closed shop European Super League which is still a serious entity and being pushed by Real Madrid and other clubs.
Uefa’s proposals, including a ‘Swiss system’ league table which will see all teams play just 10 matches in the initial phase, are due to be voted on next month.
The current plans, which could be put in place for nine years starting in 2024, would see two of the four extra places based on Uefa coefficients, one extra place to France and the final slot to the best-performing league that does not have an automatic slot.
Prem clubs are also likely to accept that there is little likelihood of fans being allowed back into grounds before the end of the season and that all remaining games this term should be broadcast live.
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