Premier League clubs have major concerns that plans to expand the Champions League will lead to “unfeasible” match congestion and the possibility of European matches being held on the same day as top-tier domestic matches.
So far, there is an agreement with UEFA that there should be no clash between Champions League and Premier League games, with the weekend protected for domestic games.
But Sky sports news He has been told that there is widespread concern that UEFA’s plans will be unfeasible and may lead to European and domestic matches going head-to-head, especially if proposals for 10 UEFA group stage matches are pushed through. Champions League per team from 2024 instead of the six matches currently played. .
UEFA has already committed to expanding the Champions League from 32 to 36 teams from 2024. That was voted on without fanfare at its executive committee meeting last month.
We understand that the Premier League is currently putting pressure on UEFA to get just two extra games per team in the group stage instead of the proposed four. That would bring the total number of games in the group stage to eight per team.
Under the current system, there are 125 Champions League games in total per season. If the tournament is expanded to include eight group games per team, that would mean 64 more games, 189 in total (a 50% increase), while 10 group games would lead to 100 more games and a total of 225 games of the Champions League. across Europe, over the course of the tournament, an increase of 80 percent.
Some officials have told Sky Sports News that such a sizeable expansion could lead to a drop in UEFA’s revenue, because broadcasters across Europe could be discouraged from bidding for the rights to host the tournament. UEFA rules dictate that the broadcasters that win the rights must show all the matches and not select the best ones.
UEFA’s proposed new “Swiss format” is expected to be ratified by its executive committee next month, although there are rumors among European officials that UEFA may be forced to relent.
The plans call for 36 clubs, all in a “conference”, in which each team is drawn to play eight or 10 different opponents, depending on UEFA’s “coefficient”, meaning the teams that have historically done better in European competitions they will be seeded higher, and play more of their group games against lesser opposition.
The top 16 teams in the conference will advance to the knockout stages, where the format will remain the same as it is now. There will no longer be home and away matches against the same opponent until the knockout stage.
Elsewhere in Europe, there are concerns that UEFA is pandering to elite English clubs by offering them more and more places in the Champions League, at the expense of smaller footballing nations. Currently, the champions of 44 European countries must pre-qualify for the Champions League before they have a chance of reaching the group stage.