Saturday 17 August 2019

UEFA boss Ceferin postpones meeting on future of Champions League

European soccer body's president said meeting will not happen until he thinks all sides are "ready for a meaningful discussion"

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

A meeting to thrash out the future structure of the Champions League has been postponed.

The European Club Association has proposed a new format for the competition from 2024 onwards, which would make it an almost closed shop in favour of Europe's biggest clubs.

The proposals from ECA chairman Andrea Agnelli have been fiercely opposed by European Leagues, the body that represents the interests of 900 clubs in more than 32 leagues, and UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin had been due to hold a meeting with the two organisations on September 11.

However, he has said the meeting will not happen until he thinks all sides are "ready for a meaningful discussion".

In a letter to Agnelli and to the head of European Leagues Lars-Christer Olsson, which has been seen by PA, Ceferin wrote: "At the beginning of June I called for a joint meeting of your respective boards with the UEFA executive committee on September 11 2019 to pursue the discussions started earlier this year on the future of European club competitions.

"We are currently in the process of gathering feedback from our national associations and I feel - more generally - that a new discussion now would be premature as we are analysing feedback and proposals coming from different parties.

"At the same time, as you know very well, UEFA deliberately kicked off the review process for the  2024-27 competition cycle much ahead of our regular schedule and we are therefore in no hurry. We do not, in any case, expect to make a decision this year.

"For the above-mentioned reasons, I have decided to postpone the meeting of September 11. I will send a new invitation as soon as I think that we are ready for a meaningful discussion."

Agnelli's proposal for a more closed system has been criticised by Olsson, who says it moves too closely towards "a breakaway super league", and even by members of the ECA.

It has been reported that Agnelli is in favour of a Champions League featuring four groups of eight, guaranteeing more group-stage matches for participants, and that only eight places each season would be granted to teams based on domestic league performance.

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