Uefa is preparing a significant expansion of the Champions League with a proposal for four additional group-stage rounds and backup slots for elite clubs who fail to qualify through domestic competitions.

Plans to transform the competition from 2024 will be discussed by European domestic leagues on Friday and the 55 national association leaders will be briefed by Uefa on Tuesday.

The overhaul is Uefa's strategy to rebuff plans to launch a largely closed breakaway Euro Superleaue competition - which has been pushed by Barcelona and Real Madrid - and maintain qualification through domestic leagues.

Uefa's proposal is to increase the number of group-stage participants from 32 to 36, with each team guaranteed 10 rather than 6 games.

England, Spain, Italy and Germany currently have 4 guaranteed slots in the group stage. But leading teams who don't make the top 4 of their leagues could still qualify, with 3 of the additional group-stage slots lined up for such teams based on their historic record in Europe.

The fourth additional spot could go to France, which currently only has two guaranteed group-stage slots while a third team has to go through qualifying.

The current format of eight groups would also be transformed, with Uefa instead using a variation of the so-called "Swiss system". All 36 teams will be placed into a single league table, with opponents determined based on pre-season ranking positions.

The top 8 would qualify automatically for the round of 16 with the next 16 teams potentially contesting a playoff to fill the other slots in the knockout phase. The plans were discussed by Premier League clubs at a virtual meeting on Thursday.

The European Leagues organisation could resist the jump from 6 to 10 games in the group stage because of the struggle to fit in extra games in the congested calendar. But European Leagues chairman Lars-Christer Olsson in December showed a willingness to back the plan.

"I think it could be possible to squeeze another four dates into the calendar," he said.

Breakaway league plans have often been leaked in the past 20 years when clubs have wanted Champions League changes in their favour.

The proposed changes could guarantee both Uefa and clubs increased TV revenues and prize money as it would produce 180 group-stage games to sell to broadcasters instead of 96.


Reader Comments (9)

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Thomas Richards
1 Posted 05/02/2021 at 08:42:45
So Uefa are introducing a safety net allowing three teams who don't qualify through top 4 to still play in the Champions League. Entrants will be decided by their previous form in the Champions League.

Just as you know who look like they could be struggling...

Tony Abrahams
2 Posted 05/02/2021 at 09:30:49
It stinks that, Thomas, but nothing surprises me about these big powerful organizations, especially because they must be shitting themselves with massive fears of a breakaway alliance already being formed.

Arsenal qualified every year even though they hadn't won a pot for years, it's false and it's phoney and it's all about protecting the powers that be, and I'm certain Manchester City's lawyers knew this.

Thomas Richards
3 Posted 05/02/2021 at 09:39:05
It does stink, Tony. Uefa are terrified of a superleague. The sooner they form the superleague, the better.
Dennis Stevens
4 Posted 05/02/2021 at 10:25:19
So what happens if the top 4 ends up as:

Leicester City
Everton
Aston Villa
West Ham United

How can they change the qualification rules part-way through the season?

Will we have 8 clubs qualify from England & Collina wheeled out to referee the matches for the clubs listed above?!

John Cook
5 Posted 05/02/2021 at 11:09:43
Dennis,

My sentiments exactly when I first mentioned this move above. To me, it's another sign that the formation of an Elite European Football league is just around the corner. I also believe that the Everton hierarchy would love to be part of it going in; we were instrumental in forming the "birth of football" with the formation of the Premier League.

Dennis Stevens
6 Posted 05/02/2021 at 13:54:51
Comical, when you think of the fuss about England having 5 teams in contention when the rules were changed especially for Liverpool.

However, I have doubts that there will ever be a European Superleague as a tier above the national leagues. The whole gimmick with Champions League is as a competition for "winners", but that would no longer be the case if the clubs involved are judged solely on their performance in this Euro superleague – a lot of them will suddenly look like also-rans and losers.

Kieran Kinsella
7 Posted 05/02/2021 at 16:30:27
Dennis 4

As I am reading it, the top four would qualify as normal but there would be an extra slot available which could go to a regular such as the RS if they fail to qualify. Since it's based on recent record, using your scenario I'd assume they'd rank City, RS, MU, Ars, Chelsea etc and work out which of them has the best record in recent years. That one team would then join the CL along with the four that legitimately qualify.

The issue with this to me is that the charge for change is being led by Juve, Real and Barce. They always qualify so I don't see them thinking this idea is a game changer. What it might do is convince scum like the RS, not to join them in a breakaway but I doubt it, as the one extra spot offers very little assurance in a competitive premier league. In short, it seems like a short-term thing that will benefit the "big six" but won't benefit them sufficiently to stop them conspiring for something more exclusive

Alan J Thompson
8 Posted 07/02/2021 at 06:47:24
Perhaps it should be renamed the Nearly Or Runners Up League of Europe, in short NORULE.
Robert Tressell
9 Posted 07/02/2021 at 09:59:55
Why not just have a European league table based on each club's merchandising revenue in Asia?

A lot of integrity has been stripped out of football in the past 30 years. This would mark another low.


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