UEFA ‘to propose radical changes to the Champions League group stage’

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UEFA ‘to propose radical changes to the Champions League group stage’ with teams to play 10 matches – five home and five away – in one big league table as they aim to end talk of another breakaway competition
UEFA are set to propose a radical change to the Champions League group stage
The competition has come under mounting pressure from a breakaway league
UEFA want to go to the ‘Swiss system’ and have teams compete in a league table
A team would play 10 matches against random opponents – five home, five away
The top 16 teams would then get onto the knockout stages with 1st playing 16th
UEFA hope it will appease teams who want more games against the bigger clubs

UEFA are set for talks this week that could see a radical overhaul of the Champions League group stage format, according to reports.

Europe’s top club competition has come under increased threat from the possibility of a breakaway Super League in recent years with the continent’s biggest sides wanting more matches against each other.

But UEFA hope their solution can calm those concerns and unite European football behind the Champions League.

According to The Times, talks are due to centre around a change to the structure that would see clubs playing 10 different opponents in the group stage.

It would see 32 or 36 teams put together in a single division – but they would not all play each other. A random draw would throw up a team’s 10 matches, all against different opponents. Five matches would be at home and five away.

Teams would then compete for points in a single league table and the top 16 clubs would go on to the knockout stages.

The last-16 ties would then be decided by the final league standings. So whoever came top of the league table would play the team that came 16th, the second would take on 15th and so on.

Those teams who finished in positions 17 to 24 would drop down into the Europa League. The rest of the teams would be eliminated.

UEFA are hoping to introduce the ‘Swiss system’ from 2024, when the current Champions League TV rights deal expires, and it would give each team four matches more than the current group stage format.

However, the increase in the number of matches would add further strain to the football calendar and English clubs may have to withdraw from the League Cup in order to compete. FA Cup replays could also be scrapped, as they have been for the current season to ‘ease pressure’ on the fixture list caused by the first coronavirus lockdown earlier this year.

It is hoped that the system will throw up more matches between Europe’s biggest clubs and eliminate the less meaningful matches that the Champions League can offer up.

It is claimed the European Club Association (ECA) is on board with the idea and that the new system would be ‘attractive’ to broadcasters.

The proposals are set to be put to European officials in the next two weeks. A source told The Times: ‘The top clubs want more matches against other clubs from the top leagues and this provides it.

‘Although it might be more difficult for fans to understand at first, another advantage is that the group stage should be much more exciting than it is now.

‘Every match should be significant because every place in the top 16 will be valuable in terms of the opponent in the next round and in terms of prize money.’

Real Madrid and a number of Italian clubs, including Juventus, have been keen on a European Super League for years.

They are after a greater slice of broadcasting revenue, brought about by more meaningful matches against Europe’s biggest teams.

Talk of a European Premier League once again came to the surface earlier this year, reportedly led by Liverpool and Manchester United.

The mooted league was reported to have backing from FIFA and Wall Street bank JP Morgan, who were apparently ready to provide £4.6billion of funds to get it off the ground.

It would reportedly have seen more than a dozen teams across England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain become founding members of the new competition.

A provisional start date of 2022 was discussed and as many as five English teams could have been involved in it.


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