The failure of the European Super League was a win for all of those who pour every ounce of passion into the beautiful game. That statement is unquestionable. The fans proved that this is their game. Yet, the battle only starts here. There are still villainous ideas to show the red card- starting with the new Champions League format.
UEFA, unsurprisingly so, went from our knight in shining armour to the next in line to face the wrath of those who care the most about the game: The fans.
New Champions League Format: Is it the European Super League in UEFA Disguise
What Does the New Format Include?
Starting from 2024, the new Champions League format will include 36 teams instead of 32 with the group stages scrapped and replaced with a league format- perhaps a better term is super league?
The top eight of that respective league will then go on to the knockout round with the rest competing in a play-off format for a place in the last 16. Before that stage, every team is guaranteed ten games- four more than the previous format’s minimum.
And, yes, of course, more games equals more entertainment for the fans. But what about the players? It’s already a struggle cramming cup competitions and domestic league games into the calendar as it is, so where do the four extra games come in
Now, if UEFA just went ahead with the above, not many would find an issue with it because, let’s face it, everyone loves a play-off format. The real issue becomes glaringly obvious when it comes to how teams qualify.
UEFA explained with the following: “Qualification for the UEFA Champions League will continue to be open and earned through a team’s performance in domestic competitions.
“One of the additional places will go to the club ranked third in the championship of the association in fifth position in the UEFA national association ranking. Another will be awarded to a domestic champion by extending from four to five the number of clubs qualifying via the so-called “Champions Path.
“The final two places will go to the clubs with the highest club coefficient over the last five years that have not qualified for the Champions League group stage but have qualified either for the Champions League qualification phase, the Europa League or the Europa Conference League.”
Why This is a Problem
If you cast your minds back a week or so, you’ll remember the uproar about Europe’s so-called elite disbanding into one closed competition.
The idea stripped the fundamentals of what makes football so special. It almost took away moments such as Leicester City’s title win. It almost took away the potential of Mark Noble leading his side out at the Nou Camp next season. It very nearly took the concept of underdog stories from us.
Luckily, UEFA saved the day, right? Think again. The new Champions League format gives us all the concern that UEFA were just looking after number one. The format suggests that even if the likes of Liverpool missed out on a top four place, they could still be handed a place amongst Europe’s elite.
The following phrase certainly suggests that: “The final two places will go to the clubs with the highest club coefficient over the last five years that have not qualified for the Champions League group stage but have qualified either for the Champions League qualification phase, the Europa League or the Europa Conference League.”
A lot of questions are yet to be answered, yes, but don’t fool yourselves into believing that UEFA are any different to Florentino Perez.
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