UEFA says no official decision will be made on the future format of the Champions League at Wednesday’s executive committee meeting.
That will now take place at the next meeting of the committee on April 19, the day before UEFA Congress.
A new format has been proposed which would take the number of matches from 125 to 225 from the 2024-25 season onwards.
Instead of a 32-team group phase with eight groups of four, teams will be placed in one 36-team league and play 10 games on a seeded basis under the so-called ‘Swiss model’.
However, UEFA says a decision could not be taken until next month “in order to finalise ongoing discussions”.
The governing body said in a statement: “Following various media enquiries over the last few days, UEFA can confirm that a meeting of the Executive Committee will take place tomorrow, Wednesday, March 31, and that the future of club competitions post-2024 will be one of the topics discussed.
“However, any official decision in this respect will only be made at the next UEFA Executive Committee meeting on April 19, in order to finalise ongoing discussions.”
Ten football associations – including England and Scotland – wrote to UEFA requesting changes to its plans for a revamped Champions League.
UEFA’s proposals 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.
Football Supporters Europe (FSE) has also expressed concerns, saying the reforms could price out future generations of fans.
“In the current financial climate, it’s going to be difficult for people to afford more and more games,” its executive director Ronan Evain told German broadcaster DW.
“We’ll potentially lose whole generations.”
Champions League: Key questions answered
UEFA’s ruling executive committee is set to vote on how the continent’s premier club competition should look from 2024.
European football’s governing body has come up with some fairly revolutionary proposals in its ‘Horizon 2024’ vision which it has asked for feedback on, including ditching the existing 32-team group phase and replacing it with one 36-team league.
What else is new?
The 36 teams would each play 10 matches instead of the current six in the group phase, with opponents selected on a seeded basis under a so-called ‘Swiss model’. The teams finishing in the top eight would qualify for the last 16 with those ranked ninth to 24th playing off for the final eight knockout spots.
UEFA wants the additional four matchdays to be exclusive for the Champions League and spread across Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings to maximise on broadcast income.
The four extra places would be awarded as follows – one extra spot to the country ranked fifth in the UEFA co-efficient, currently France, the domestic champions with the best historical team co-efficient who do not qualify automatically, and controversially the two teams with the best historical co-efficient who have not qualified for the Champions League via domestic performance, but have done enough to qualify for the Europa League or the new Europa Conference League.
Who has it consulted with?
Primarily the European Club Association (ECA), which is widely regarded as representing the views of Europe’s biggest teams, and the European Leagues group which represents over 30 domestic competitions across the continent. World players’ union FIFPRO has also been involved.
What have they said?
The ECA has given its approval to the plans, with its president Andrea Agnelli describing the proposed format as “ideal”. The Juventus chief likes the fact that the Swiss model offers the flexibility to go beyond 10 matches in the future.
European Leagues says the competition is too big – the proposal takes it from 125 matches to 225 – and has proposed eight matches instead of 10 in the league stage. It has also criticised the qualification method, agreeing that France should get one extra place but that the other three berths should be reserved for domestic champions.
What’s the Premier League’s position?
It has not commented publicly but is understood to have concerns with the impact the qualification proposal could have on the league’s sporting integrity. A team finishing seventh in the Premier League could ‘leapfrog’ teams finishing fifth and sixth and land in a more lucrative competition, purely based on historical performance. Aston Villa chief executive Christian Purslow has criticised that approach, while Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish says the changes would be “devastating” for English football.
What about the FA?
The Football Association has written to UEFA, and is understood to have raised concerns over the impact on the domestic calendar – chiefly the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup.
UEFA’s proposal includes European competitions spilling into January – a month traditionally reserved for domestic club football.
EFL chairman Rick Parry said earlier this month that the proposals “pose a major threat” to the League Cup’s existence.
UEFA’s plan for further exclusive dates places further pressure on the domestic calendar.
Why is UEFA doing this?
The prospect of a revamp from the 2024-25 season has long been discussed, in part because it will be the start of a new broadcast cycle. It comes at a time when a breakaway European Super League is again being whispered about by some of the continent’s heavyweights.
What are the financial benefits?
More matches to sell should potentially mean greater revenue, while the hope is that the format change should mean there is more riding on each match.
UEFA wants the discussion on distribution of revenue to take place after an agreement on format is reached. European Leagues disagreed with that approach but appears to have lost the argument. It wants the solidarity payments to non-participating clubs to be increased as part of a new settlement to avoid further disruption to the competitive balance in domestic competitions.
What outcome should we expect?
Given the UEFA executive and the ECA are broadly in alignment, it is expected that the proposals as originally put forward by UEFA will be approved.