UEFA Champions League. A big change overshadowed by the Super League confusion

  • The creation of the Super League is the number one topic in European football
  • The leading European clubs have for a moment blurred the situation in international competitions that had been found over the years
  • In the shadow of confusion, UEFA is preparing to pass a major reform of the Champions League. And it is not devoid of surprising and not necessarily clear solutions
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Everything seemed pretty clear on Friday night. The European Club Association (ECA) has approved the reform planned by the football headquarters in the most prestigious competitions on the Old Continent. Her announcement would be a matter of hours.

Meanwhile, on Sunday evening, information began to appear about the creation of a new competition by 12 great clubs: the Super League. On Sunday night, official decisions were taken on this matter and the revolution – it seemed – is becoming a fact. UEFA, FIFA and national federations reacted immediately by threatening the clubs with severe consequences: kicking their players out of national and international competitions, banning their players from playing in national teams (and therefore in the European and world championships) and a lawsuit amounting to 60 billion euros.

A huge rebellion was also raised by fans and great football stars who protested against the changes, suggesting that the introduction of elite games will kill the spirit of sport, and the competition will focus solely on the financial aspect and maximizing the clubs’ profits. The football environment is in turmoil and it looks like – after the official resignation of six English clubs – the entire Super League project will end after several dozen hours of existence.

Somewhat overshadowed by the events of Sunday night, on Monday UEFA’s entourage also began to receive information that its bosses did not intend to abandon the project to reform the Champions League. The key decisions are to be taken on Wednesday, when the Executive Committee officially votes them.

What will change? First of all, the Champions League will be enlarged to 36 teams that will compete in one group, and the clubs will be divided into four baskets. Each team in the league stage will play ten games, against teams from different baskets, and the top eight teams will advance to the knockout stage. Sixteen more will compete for promotion to the 1/8 finals of the Champions League in the play-offs. Most importantly, all clubs will be listed in one collective table.

Who will get four additional slots for the expansion of the games? According to still unofficial reports, two of them will be reserved for the strongest clubs from the national ranking, one for the national champion from the 11-25 leagues, who will be the highest in the club ranking, and one for the representative of the fifth strongest European league.

With the huge confusion related to the Superleague, it may turn out that … a huge change in the Champions League will go completely unnoticed. The abandonment of the division of teams into groups, known for almost thirty years, and replacing it with a much less reliable list of all teams in one table, is a change that also deserves to be called a revolution.

The emotions that accompany the Super League are somewhat natural, but they can also strongly influence the fact that in three years’ time fans will be watching a completely different Champions League, which may be much less fair.

The classic formula that evokes the least emotions is the game in the “peer-to-peer” system in the “match and rematch” mode. Then we can talk about (as far as possible) equal conditions of competition for each team. The division into groups (as in the current Champions League, final tournaments of the European and world championships, or even the qualifying rounds to them) is a slightly less transparent solution (after all, groups may have various degrees of difficulty), but still certainly fair. In them, each team plays with the same rivals: the results can therefore be reasonably combined.

The reform prepared by UEFA is a strange compromise between the division and the unification of the games. On the one hand, teams will only compete with some of their rivals, but their results will be entered in the summary table. It is not difficult to imagine that comparing ten games of one team with ten completely different games of the other team is … a very breakneck solution.

According to UEFA, the new solution will make the competition much more exciting. In the fight for promotion, 24 teams will actually count (eight for direct promotion, sixteen more for play-offs). And indeed, it may happen that in the knockout stage the 24th team in the standings table will appear, at the expense of the 9th place. Of course, everything stays in the legs of the players, but it is impossible to get the impression that UEFA is trying to find some surprising solutions.

The heads of the European headquarters know that the current Champions League has grown old a bit and is of less and less interest to younger fans. It needs a solid facelift, but UEFA is betting on a revolution. There are many indications that after the fall of the Super League, all clubs involved in it will compete in the new Champions League.

With all the confusion, won’t it be accepted too lightly?

Creation date: April 21, 2021, 11:03 am

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