The Champions League as we know it could undergo a major rehaul in time for the 2024-25 season, with alterations potentially changing the landscape of domestic football across Europe.
The competition – the most prestigious in Europe – has built its reputation as a tournament where only the most established of clubs play. Entry is only won through a high-ranking league triumph of a Europa League win, and the race to finish in a Champions League-qualifying spot is the framework of the top leagues across the continent.
But what would happen if that were to all change? Amid news that a restructure of the competition could arrive as soon as 2024, Goal rounds up what it will mean for the domestic leagues – and how the Champions League could change.
What are the new changes for the Champions League?
Proposed changes to the current edition of the Champions League would have inevitable ripple effects across the major European leagues.
According to reports in Italy, ideas to introduce promotion and relegation to Europe’s most elite tournament could be on the table, as well as moving matches from their typical midweek window to a slot during the weekend.
It has also raised the possibility of revamping qualification for the competition entirely, and changing the way qualification is earned – for example, altering it so that a top-four domestic finish in the Premier League wouldn’t automatically guarantee for the competition.
New proposals also touch on the idea of more group-stage games being played by each club, increasing from six to 14, with four groups potentially consisting of eight teams. More matches, and matches played on the weekend – a time typically reserved for domestic action – will no doubt have a detrimental effect on domestic leagues and add to an already congested schedule.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, however, has dismissed the notion that the governing body had held any discussions over holding European club football games during the weekend.
“We haven’t discussed weekends, just to clear that up once and for all,” Ceferin stated.
The idea of Champions Leagues ‘access lists’ that would assure automatic qualification for select, established clubs would alter the entire course and philosophy of the Premier League. The race to finish in a top four position in order to secure elite Champions League action for the next season has always been a key factor of each major European league.
Any changes to the Champions League will only come into effect after the 2023-24 season. UEFA, however, have felt a need to re-jig the structure of the current competition that has been in place since the 1990s.
Reports of a change in structure to the Champions League comes after the surfacing of a proposed ‘European Super League’, a tournament involving 11 elite European teams. There has been no official word on the Super League and no confirmation that it will take place, but Der Spiegel had reported inklings of a new competition featuring only the established European clubs beginning as early as 2021.
Whether or not this Super League would replace the Champions League, or if the Super League would see the clubs involved break off from their respective domestic leagues, however, is still unknown.
How have European football associations responded?
The proposed changes to the Champions League has already garnered opposition from Premier League clubs. English teams have stressed “significant concerns” about the plans.
A statement on behalf of the 20 Premier League clubs, via the BBC, iterated: “All clubs unanimously agreed it is inappropriate for European football bodies to create plans that would alter the structures, calendar and competitiveness of the domestic game and will work together to protect the Premier League.
“In England, football plays an important role in our culture and everyday life.
“Millions of fans attend matches across the country, with allegiances and local rivalries often passed down through generations.
“We have a fantastic combination of competitive football and committed fans that we will vigorously defend.
“The structures of domestic football are determined by leagues and their respective national associations.
“We will now work with the Football Association and other leagues to ensure that European football bodies understand the importance of this, and their obligation to maintain the health and sustainability of domestic league football.”
The French Football League (FFL) has followed in the footsteps of the Premier League, and have expressed the ‘deepest concern’ about the future of the Champions League and its potential restructure.
They stated that the revamp “threatens the competitive and economic balance” of the French league.