UEFA accelerates on new Champions League formula

UEFA will meet its Executive Committee on Tuesday and its Annual Congress in Vienna on Wednesday in hopes of finalizing the reform of the Champions League after 2024.

The timing may be surprising, as the breathtaking semi-finals that the C1 has just offered have reminded us of the success of the current formula, whose dramaturgy is essentially based on the encounters cleavers.

But the European body plans to respond as soon as possible to the criticism of the revision of its queen competition presented in the spring of 2021, the most radical in twenty years, although it was overshadowed at the time by the storm of the Super League, this short private competition project launched by several rebellious clubs. If the Executive Committee’s official agenda does not announce a decision on the future C1 on Tuesday (13.00-16.00) it will be because it is not yet “100% guaranteed”, even though UEFA hopes to achieve that this week on the sidelines of the Annual Congress (10 a.m. to noon Wednesday), reports a source familiar with the matter.

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Two points will be achieved: the transition from 32 to 36 clubs in 2024-2025, as well as the replacement of the eight groups of four clubs with a mini-championship inspired by chess tournaments, within one table, just like in Europa League and Europa League conference.

A busy schedule

By extending this first phase, the aim is to satisfy both the broadcasters, with a total of 225 matches instead of 125 today, the clubs, who are assured of higher ticket revenues – even in the event of early elimination – , and viewers looking for prestigious posters.

But two aspects were immediately divided, in European football with an already saturated calendar and precarious economic equilibriums.

First the number of “days” of the mini-championship, initially set at ten against ten different opponents, more than the six group matches (three back and forth confrontations) in the current formula.

Last Friday, the European Leagues association, which brings together 30 professional leagues on the continent, called for a limit to eight matches, so as not to sacrifice any more space left for the championships. A number of big teams are also against this endless initial phase, even though their representative at the head of the European Club Association (ECA), Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, “in the midst of a conflict of interest between his cap as president of PSG and that of boss of the beIN channel“, which in particular broadcasts certain C1 matches in France, observes an acquaintance with the authorities.

What is the system for allocating the remaining seats?

Another controversial point: the allocation of two of the four extra tickets for the “UEFA coefficient“i.e. previous European results, or an opportunity offered to the leaders to make up for a missed season.

The big clubs are rather favorable this time for this rematch, but not the European competitions, for which all participants have to qualify through the national championships, a principle so fundamental to European football that it was stirred up against the promoters of the Super League , a project initially envisagedfounders» automatically qualified. †European Leagues strongly opposes the introduction of a system of seats linked to a so-called European coefficient of performance, which would constitute an unjustified second chance for (the) big clubs‘, the National Leagues hammered again on Friday.

The overhaul could also include the idea, put forward last year by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, of semi-finals and finals being hosted in the same city in a “Final 4” format.

At the beginning of 2022, the TV rights for European club competitions were awarded for EUR 5 billion per year over the period 2024-2027, a jump of more than 50% from the TV rights for 2018-2019, linked to this development project to increase the C1.

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