Champions League: plans for revamped tournament to be agreed on Monday

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A banner against Champions League reforms was in the stands at Borussia Dortmund’s stadium during their Champions League quarter-final against Manchester City

The reorganized 36-team Champions League is expected to be approved on Monday.

The controversial new format, which was due to start in 2024 and last until at least 2033, was due to be signed last month.

But a planned announcement was dropped amid wrangling over the club’s involvement in the running of the tournament.

Not all details were agreed, but key meetings on Friday underscored that enough progress had been made for the new format to be presented to the powerful UEFA executive committee on Monday.

The new format will see 36 clubs qualify for an expanded “first phase”, where all clubs will play against 10 opponents of different strengths.

This will result in a classification table, with the top eight qualifying for the knockout stage and the next 16 entering the play-off for the remaining eight places.

The format has been criticized by fan groups, not least because two of the four additional places will be allocated on the basis of past performance, to clubs with the highest UEFA coefficient that have not automatically qualified for the UEFA Champions League. champions – but qualified for another European competition.

If the process existed this season, Liverpool – depending on the outcome of domestic cup competitions – and Chelsea would have been the clubs that would benefit.

The criticism around this format is that it would remove the basis for qualifying around league position, as a team could qualify for the Champions League despite finishing lower in the table than a team. from the same league that missed the game.

Fan groups want ‘reckless plan’ scrapped

Fan groups, including Manchester United and Arsenal, want “reckless plans” to restructure the Champions League to be scrapped.

In an open letter to the president of the Association of European Clubs (ECA) and Juventus chief Andrea Agnelli, they say proposals are a “serious threat to the whole game”.

“You will only widen the gap between the rich and the rest, shatter national calendars and expect fans to sacrifice even more time and money,” Football Supporters Europe wrote.

The letter was signed by 17 fan groups from 14 teams whose clubs are in the ECA, including Ajax, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

They added: “Such a blatant takeover would be indefensible at the best of times, but at the height of a global pandemic, it is nothing more than crisis profits, not to mention a stark contrast to the solidarity displayed by the fans.

“Over the past year, we have supported our clubs unconditionally, buying hopeless season tickets to attend games and paying TV subscriptions to watch repetitive fixtures held in empty, soulless stadiums. , while working behind the scenes to find new ones. ways to bleed us dry.

“We therefore demand that you abandon your reckless plans. We also call on football’s governing bodies to stop making concessions to elite clubs and to intervene to protect the future of football. “

Crystal Palace president Steve Parish previously said the 36-team Champions League would have “A devastating effect” on the English game.

No Euro matches in Manchester

Apart from the Champions League reforms, there should also be clarifications on the venues of Euro 2020 at the ex-co meeting on Monday.

Munich, Bilbao and Dublin have yet to confirm to UEFA that they can host games with crowds.

Positive rumors have come out of Munich about their availability, but doubts remain about Bilbao and Dublin.

While neither of the two venues can host matches, Sevilla has been suggested as an alternative to Bilbao, although the idea that Manchester could replace Dublin has been ruled out due to major pitch renovations already planned for Old Trafford and the Etihad Stadium.

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