European Leagues slam UEFA's new-look Champions League proposal

‘If every club in Europe had the same vote, this would NEVER happen’: European Leagues slam UEFA proposal to award Champions League places based on historic performance, claiming it would ‘compromise’ domestic competitions

  • UEFA want two Champions League spots to be given on historical performance
  • Europe’s major leagues say that the plans will be damaging to domestic football
  • The proposal would create a safety net for any big club who underperformed

Europe’s domestic leagues have criticised UEFA’s plans to award two places in the new-look Champions League based on historic continental performance.

UEFA presented proposals to award two spots in the competition from 2024 to teams based on their coefficient ranking at the European Club Association’s general assembly in Vienna last month.

The coefficient is calculated on how a team have performed in European competitions over the previous five seasons. The major criticism of it is that it would create a ‘safety net’ for any big club which performed poorly domestically in any given season.

UEFA want two Champions League spots to be granted based on historical performance

European Leagues believes those two extra places in the Champions League should be awarded to domestic champions from leagues who do not currently receive an automatic place.

A decision on European club competition formats – including who qualifies and an increase in the number of group-phase matches from the current six to 10 – is set to be made by UEFA’s executive committee when it meets in Vienna on May 10.

Despite the presentation to the ECA, the European Leagues group has been encouraged by public pronouncements from UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin over the last year, and by the confederation’s endorsement of a European fans’ petition called ‘Win It On The Pitch’ earlier this month.  

‘European competitions have a tremendous impact on domestic league competitions,’ the chair of European Leagues’ management board Claus Thomsen said in Istanbul on Friday. 

‘They are part of the football pyramid but it is essential that we govern what is the heart and soul and backbone of European club football – and that’s the domestic leagues.’

European Leagues chairman Claus Thomson says places should be earned on sporting merit

Europe’s major leagues say that the plans would be damaging to domestic football

‘It should always be sporting merit that bring you from one level to another. You should always qualify via your national league. This is why fans engage in football all across Europe. We cannot compromise on this.

‘Having so many extra games in the Champions League… will hurt the vast majority of clubs in Europe and benefit very few. It is still our view that such a thing cannot be introduced into European competitions.’

European Leagues managing director Jacco Swart added: ‘There is no question, if every club in Europe had the same vote, that this (proposal) would never happen. For the vast majority of clubs, their domestic competition is the most important.’

Swart confirmed that UEFA’s club competitions committee would meet digitally on May 10, ahead of the ExCo. The usual practice is that the recommendations of that committee are simply rubber-stamped by the ExCo.

Thomsen estimated that ‘eight out of 10 times’ it would be Premier League clubs who benefited from the coefficient places and therefore he could not see a ‘direct interest’ in members of the club competitions committee from outside England voting for it.

The plan would create a safety net for a big club who underperformed in their domestic league

European Leagues also believes UEFA will back its position and drop the number of matches in the new 36-team league phase from 10 to eight, which is still two more games than each team plays in the current group phase format.

Thomsen rejected the idea that scrapping the coefficient places and limiting the increase in group-stage games to eight instead of 10 risked tempting the continent’s biggest clubs to make a renewed push for a Super League.

‘(The Super League) is an extremely bad idea, I don’t think it will ever fly,’ he said.

‘I don’t think the domestic leagues will accept the impact (of a Super League) on their competitions. There are simple facts like the calendar. I don’t know when the Super League will play, but it’s not something that any league will accommodate.’

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