Let us take a detailed look at the UEFA’s proposed Swiss System Champions League expansion changes for European domestic clubs
UEFA is preparing a significant expansion of the Champions League with a proposal for four additional group-stage rounds and backup slots for elite clubs who fail to qualify through domestic competitions.
UEFA’s proposal is to increase the number of group-stage participants from 32 to 36, with each team guaranteed 10 rather than six games.
So the proposed UEFA Champions League (UCL) changes are:-
- Qualification can be achieved through UEFA Coefficient.
- 36 teams qualify as opposed to 32 currently.
- No group stages, all teams enter a league format and play 10 matches (4 more than current).
- Top 8 go to knockout phase
- The next 16 have a playoff round for the other 8 spots to get to the ‘last 16’ that we have now.
- ‘In form’ (i.e richer, more famous) teams play each other.
- Fewer ‘low profile’ opponents.
- ‘Wildcard’ entry means richer, more famous clubs don’t need to qualify through their respective leagues
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UEFA was so scared of the Super League they turned their competition into the Swiss System Champions League
Their bottom line will always be showcase fixtures with big names. Leicester and Benfica can be the most attractive, exciting, explosive teams in the world, but UEFA need their competition to be about the Manchester Uniteds, Barcelonas, Bayern Munichs, and AC Milans of the world.
And sadly, in a way, I understand it. We all (well, most of us) loved the Leicester’s Premier League fairytale, but how many of us tuned into their Champions League campaign the following season?
The teams with the big names and the hundreds of millions of fans will always have priority.
This ‘Swiss Style/system’ league format allows UEFA to lose the seedings – which prevented ‘better’ teams facing each other too early – while also eliminating most of the risk of having some of those teams eliminated before the showpiece, big money knockout rounds.
A big win for UEFA because they can sell their cup as the one where all the big teams face each other every week, and a bigger win for sponsors because each of these games will attract massive audiences. Some fans probably enjoy the thought of it, many others (like me) do not.
The entire purpose of the original European Cup was to have the best clubs (or domestic champions) competing against each other. Giving a Champions League place based on history goes against that.
There’s a chance that a club finish sixth and trophyless and “qualify” for the Champions League based on recent history, then go on to win a tournament they never actually qualified for on the pitch. Nice way to ruin the confidence of lower ranked teams.
Impossible to understate how disastrous a move this is. Privatizing elite football, safeguarding clubs with the biggest profit margins and stripping meritocracy; the purest aspect of the sport. All to further the wealth of the already filthy rich chief execs.
Football has long been morally and ethically bankrupt but ahead of this new UEFA Champions League format, coupled with a World Cup built on slave labour and human rights abusing states bankrolling elite clubs to domestic hegemonies – it increasingly feels like a rotting corpse.