The rules of holding the main club tournament of the continent can undergo several changes. In few weeks it will become clear, whether the UEFA meet all concessions to the top clubs.
The ghost of Superleague is rambling all over the Europe for a long time. The Union of European Football Associations is demonized by a possibility of its foundation for many years. Continually, there appear “authentic” data about “confidential” meetings of big bosses of the Spanish, German, Italian, French and even English clubs that in “safe houses” are weaving plots against the existing system of competitions and monopoly of the UEFA and are developing the projects of their own tournaments. For rich and with intention to increase the income.
There is no smoke without the fire. The Champions League in its current form doesn’t satisfy all – there are many unsatisfied among the owners of the clubs, coaches and fans. The UEFA is trying to please everyone, but that is possible only in theory. Authoritative era of Lennart Johansson went west. The presidential office has left Michel Platine, who became a good manager. Top clubs feel that the situation is quite favorable and also they see all problems in the system that was earlier considered to be unapproachable and with defense in depth system. Now clubs are trying to take the control over the situation and gain these of those advantages and privileges.
HOW IT WILL BE
What we are talking about? About two different projects.
The project # 1. The creation of Superleague instead of the Champions League.
The project # 2. Reforming of the Champions League.
What is Superleague? This is a tournament with the constant number of clubs – by the example of NBA and NHL. The main participants – top clubs of Spain, the UK, Germany, Italy and France. From other countries the minimum number of clubs is attracted.
The project presupposing that the clubs will leave the championships of their countries exists in theory only. In years to come it will hardly become the reality. In any case, Britishers are for now satisfied with their Premier League with its fabulous income. This income, by the way, is gained also from the successful TV rights selling. Why should one destroy the thing that is laying gold eggs? Unless someone will offer a “tastier” proposal…
President UEFA candidates in their programs that were published recently unambiguously spoke against the Superleague. The Slovene Aleksander Cheferin thinks that it is “necessary to protect the existing model of the kinds of sport in Europe and to make everything possible that competitions of the UEFA will never become closed Leagues or tournaments”. Dutch Mihael van Prag believes that the union has in every way “to resist the threat of clubs to organize the Superleague”. “Threats” of uncontrollable competitions” in such circumstances can’t be avoided any more, - he has written in the address in four languages, including Russian. – It is important that the UEFA has used as much as it is possible their competitions and has optimized the structure of the club tournaments. It is necessary to provide proper financial situations for clubs and associations. At the same time it is necessary to help all clubs but not just a small number of lucky one”.
But the second project is quite real. In present format the Champions League exists for clubs and sponsors for two more seasons – till summer 2018. What will be the face of the tournament in the following tree or five years – from 2018 till 2021 or 2023?
The main aim of proposed reforms is the increase in representation of 4-6 top European countries and decrease to minimum of representation of “small” football countries. One of the offered variant is to toughen the system of selection and to add one more preliminary round and to admit to the group tournament only the best clubs.
What is necessary to be done if during the selection round this or that club would be eliminated? To allow to play in the League due to former achievements, to enter the system of invitations for those who had earlier won the Champions Cup, to legalize the list of “untouchable” clubs. It is clear that such decision won’t become pleasant to the majority. But the money is given to the minority.
There is a proposal to allocate 16 places for clubs of 4 top European countries – Spain, the UK, Germany and Italy. That is each country will acquire the right to point out four teams to group tournament. On four first according to the results of the national championship. Or three first and four more thanks to the historical significance or something like this. For example, to allow “Inter” to play in the Champions League if it doesn’t get into the first three of Series A.
Six more places can go to the following three countries. For now - France, Russia and Portugal. One more club can be declared by the Ukraine, Belgium, Turkey, Switzerland. The remained six passes have to be played out between 50 other countries, among them are Holland, Croatia, Greece, Austria, Romania, Denmark, Norway and Israel…
Harsh? Yes. Unfair? Of course. “BATE”, ‘Malmo”, “Ludogorets”, “Maribor” must forget about the Champions League. Perhaps.
But, as the reformers consider, there will be no gimmes, uninteresting matches. And the sponsors will support such innovations. By the way, who will start to invest the money?
The powerful Chinese Wanda Group headed by Wang Jianlin is becoming the active player in the football financial field. Some time ago he had declared the desire to organize the club tournament. Firstly, there were rumors that his company will lead the European Superleague. But now the billionaire is seen as one of the financiers of the new Champions League.
When to play? To keep the current calendar or to hold matches starting from Friday till Sunday? It is clear that more money will be gathered by the games played on week-ends. But how to implement them into the existing schedule of the top championships – especially in English one that are interfered by two internal cup tournaments?
Most likely here trumps will remain on the hands of the UEFA. We will play as usual on Tuesdays and Wednesday.
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