Source: China State Council Information Office
Europe’s professional soccer teams will gather on Friday to see if they can support proposed reforms of the prestigious Champions League.
The Financial Times reports the likes of Juventus, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, and Inter Milan will kick ideas around at a gathering of the European Club Association, or ECA.
The organization, which represents more than 200 top teams, has been asked by the Union of European Football Associations, or Uefa, to consider the reforms, not only to the Champions League but the lesser Europa League as well.
Pundits say the changes, which would take effect from 2024, amount to the biggest shake-up of European soccer for decades.
The overhaul of the Champions League calls for the creation of around 100 more matches each year, up to 225 from 125, and the expansion of the group stage, from 32 to 36 teams. There would also be more fixtures between the continent’s top teams.
The overhaul would include the ditching of the group stage at the start of the competition in favor of having each side play 10 matches against 10 different opponents. The best-ranked teams would then advance to the knockout rounds.
Aleksander Ceferin, Uefa’s president, is understood to want the ECA to quickly approve the revamp, so Uefa can put wheels in motion, as a way to suck momentum from a rebel plan being promoted by Spain’s Real Madrid and backed financially by J.P.Morgan that calls for the launch of a new European super league.
Uefa officials are set to meet for their annual congress next week, where changes agreed by the ECA could be ratified.
But the proposals are controversial, with smaller clubs complaining they would dilute domestic cup and league competitions while strengthening the hand of Europe’s biggest clubs.
The i newspaper said there is likely to be resistance at Friday’s meeting from smaller clubs and Europe’s national leagues.
The campaign group Our Beautiful Game, which is backed by former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville and former Football Association chairman David Bernstein, released a report recently on the proposals, saying: “We believe that the potential impact of the current proposals in England is substantial.”
The group complained “nobody appears to be speaking about” the damage the changes could cause.
“Nobody seems to be seeking to mitigate (big clubs’) excesses and explaining how the proposals are positive for clubs outside the top six,” the report said.
Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish said after an earlier gathering of the ECA: “It feels like we’re expected to accept these proposals because they are not as bad as they could have been.”
But he said they only seem to benefit Europe’s biggest clubs.
“This would have a devastating effect on domestic competitions in England,” he said. “For clubs like us, it’s very difficult to understand where you have a voice in these conversations. We feel very remote from the decision-making.”