Ten football associations – including England and Scotland – have written to UEFA requesting changes to its plans for a revamped Champions League.
According to the European Leagues General Assembly, which met on Friday to discuss how they want European club competitions to proceed, the associations are putting up opposition as UEFA’s final decision looms on March 31.
The governing body’s proposals – known as the “Swiss model” – are an attempt to stop the biggest clubs in Europe breaking away to form their own European Super League, but the European Leagues president is warning of huge problems for the football calendar, especially in England.
Lars-Christer Olsson says 100 new European club matches would be added across the season under plans to increase the number of Champions League and Europa League game weeks from six to 10, starting in 2024, leading to even more congested fixtures and risk of player burn-out, while threatening the existence of domestic cup competitions.
They also fear UEFA’s plans favour the traditionally biggest clubs in Europe by giving them unfair access to the Champions League, with the expansion of the competition 32 teams to 36 giving one extra place to the fifth-ranked nation (currently France) and three more to the best historical records in European competition, regardless of their league finish.
One of the amendments suggested by the European Leagues, therefore, is for only an additional two game weeks instead of four and for more “champions” to be in the Champions League. Olsson wants to see the current UEFA cap of no more than five clubs from any one country to remain.
A further issue is the threat of further enriching the rich clubs and starving the smaller ones across the continent of much-needed financing from European competition. Olsson argues income from the Champions League is increasingly distorting domestic competitions, so that “only one or two clubs can win their domestic league each season”.
He says that, if this trend continues, the European Leagues will pursue further changes to ensure greater distribution of wealth to the mid-size and smaller clubs. It is a powerful lobbying group – an umbrella organisation for 37 professional leagues across Europe and including over 1,000 clubs – but the body has no power to force its ideas onto UEFA.
The European Leagues General Assembly also carried out elections for its board of directors on Friday, as Olsson stepped down from the role of president before being voted in as honorary president. John Nagle, the EFL’s head of policy, will be the only representative from England or Scotland on the new board.
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