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Champions League: Format changes planned for 2024 set to be delayed or scrapped

27.11.19

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By Simon Stone
BBC Sport in Geneva
The changes to European football intended for 2024 are likely to be delayed or scrapped.
Uefa proposed a Champions League comprising four groups of eight nightclubs to the eight groups of four.
The suggestions came after pressure from leagues under the”big five” – England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France.
After months of discussions, no general consensus was attained.
A club competition which starts in 2021, promotion and relegation in the Europa League and the Europa League 2, had also been indicated to protect against the Champions League appearing to develop into a competition.
Ajax primary executive Edwin van der Sar was among the most outspoken demanding shift, pointing out the current qualification system could have resulted in his team with no European football whatsoever following August, even though they arrived within minutes of having to last season’s Champions League final before Lucas Moura’s dramatic injury-time goal for Tottenham in Amsterdam.
The likelihood is that whatever will probably be much less radical than envisaged, Though the clubs remain committed to change.
Ex-Netherlands goalkeeper Van der Sar was current in Geneva on Monday for the first day of a two-day meeting of Europe’s leading nightclubs, by which England’s”big six” clubs – Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United – were also represented.
Sources have said resolving the Ajax”issue” is relatively straightforward and may be reached by permitting all semi-finalists to the group phase and introducing a play-off to its fourth-placed teams in the two lowest-ranking leagues that get four automatic set stage slots – now Italy and Germany.
A much greater obstacle to implementing the suggested changes is concern including the Premier League, that when Uefa’s strategy results in higher tv earnings for their rivals, it is going to come at the cost of their national rivals.
There’s debate about this, but the opinion is widely held and puts clubs in these competitions at loggerheads with counterparts at the Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium and Scotland, amongst others, in which big-name clubs have been restricted in their capacity to progress because access to TV money from their very own national rivals is strictly restricted.
They feel unless action is taken immediately, the gap will end up being so wide, it’ll never be bridged.
Last year, the Premier League’s bottom team, Huddersfield, earned #96.6m in TV money independently. In 2018, Scottish champions Celtic’s entire earnings, such as prize money in the Champions League, was 101.6m, a sum that was reduced markedly in 2019 because of their failure to meet the requirements for the group stages of Europe’s elite competition.
It’s the absence of consensus that led to Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin cancelling the crucial tri-party discussions (involving Uefathe championships as well as the clubs) which were expected to be held in Switzerland on Wednesday.
These talks have been put back indefinitely, with chances being that they might not be held until the season’s conclusion.
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