Monday 19 February 2018

Uefa to decide on major Champions League revamp in December including Saturday games

Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid lifts the Champions League trophy. Photo: Getty
Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid lifts the Champions League trophy. Photo: Getty

Ben Rumsby

The Champions League is to undergo what could be a major revamp after Uefa confirmed it would decide in December on proposed changes to its elite club competition.

The director of competitions for European football’s governing body revealed a format for the 2018-21 seasons of the Champions League would be determined “by the end of the year”.

Giorgio Marchetti’s pronouncement followed behind-closed-doors meetings involving senior club officials ahead of Saturday’s final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.

Amendments on the table range from tweaks to the Champions League’s entry criteria to the introduction of a fully-fledged European Super League, although more likely is an overhaul of a group stage many believe has become stale and is holding back Uefa’s ability to generate revenue.

“We need a format by the end of the year,” said Marchetti. “We are consulting and we are listening.”

Specific options include more guaranteed entries for the strongest leagues, protected places for the biggest clubs, and playing matches on Saturdays rather than midweek to appeal to Asian and American audiences.

Some of the biggest European teams are also worried about the growing financial chasm between themselves and sides from Premier League, where the bottom club will earn £100m from next season, far in excess of the winner of the Champions League.

Juventus president Andrea Agnelli has noted even the 32-franchise NFL gets much more TV revenue than the Champions League, despite a smaller core fan base and little broad appeal outside the United States.

Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City held a secret meeting earlier this year at which the prospect of a European Super League was raised.

That would be resisted by the Premier League, which would also fight any attempt to play Champions League matches on a Saturday where its own competition is taking place.

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