GENEVA (AP)UEFA’s plans for overhauling the Champions League could still be reviewed, the group that represents European domestic leagues said Friday, adding that it may challenge some details that favor storied clubs.
UEFA approved changes in April that would replace the current Champions League format – which has a six-game group stage – with a single league table guaranteeing each team 10 games against 10 different opponents starting in the 2024-25 season.
However, the 33-nation European Leagues group now hopes to revive its long-standing objections to the Champions League taking more revenue and fixture space in the crowded soccer calendar.
The leagues hope UEFA will cut back on the 10-game Champions League format and object to giving two wild-card entries to teams from major leagues who don’t qualify on merit, saying those spots should instead go to domestic title winners from mid-ranking countries.
”We do think that changes will be made,” said European Leagues managing director Jacco Swart, adding UEFA had promised ”a second phase of the process.”
UEFA has set a mid-December target to finalize the 2024-25 changes, which could also see a final-four mini tournament rather than the traditional two-leg semifinals.
Details to agree include a fixture schedule that could extend into January before the knockout rounds, and how to determine team seedings.
The proposal for the new format was drawn up with the help of the top clubs who then banded together to launch a breakaway Super League just days before UEFA could approve the Champions League changes. The Super League quickly folded after facing a strong backlash from fans, but its founding member clubs have long argued they need more Champions League games, and more high-profile games against each other, to boost their revenue and brands.
However, European Leagues chairman Claus Thomsen criticized how UEFA uses its historic rankings in a way that steers more prize money from broadcast deals to the storied clubs.
”It must be driven by sporting merits,” said Thomsen, who represents the Danish league which is among the middle ranks that typically suffer in Champions League revamps.
UEFA points to giving European Leagues a big concession because the Champions League will continue to be played on midweek dates, leaving weekends protected for domestic games.
The leagues and ECA are also in talks with UEFA about a post-pandemic update of the ”Financial Fair Play” rules which monitor clubs’ income and spending on wages and transfer fees.
UEFA wants to relax the rules limiting how much wealthy owners can invest in players, which critics say risks driving imbalance on the field by inflating salaries beyond the means of many clubs.
”Unlimited contributions should not be on the table,” Thomsen said, warning of clubs that can ”buy yourself into a specific sporting advantage.”
At a two-day meeting in Milan, attended by senior UEFA official Giorgio Marchetti, European Leagues also on Friday announced closer ties to FIFPRO, the global network of player unions, and the UEFA-recognized fan groups Football Supporters Europe (FSE) and Supporters Direct Europe.
They rallied together in April to help defend UEFA from the Super League project.
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