DURING football’s uproar over the European Super League, The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) announced plans for a new and ‘improved’ Champions League, however many football fans disagree.
On Tuesday April 20, UEFA announced their plans for this new format. This came two days after the European Super League was made public, which caused a huge meltdown from football fans.
The Super League was a plan orchestrated by Real Madrid Chairman Florentino Perez. Fifteen of the world’s biggest clubs planned to begin their own League in place of the Champions League.
However, due to the pressure from fans, all six English clubs: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur all left the Super League. They were followed by the majority of four other clubs from Spain and Italy, with Barcelona and Real Madrid set to leave also.
So therefore, the announcement of UEFA’s new Champions League caused even more rage from football fans across the world, as this has become the focus. UEFA are under severe pressure to cancel these plans, and to keep the competition how it currently is.
The Champions League competition will increase from 32 team to 36 teams. This will allow space for two clubs to play Champions League football who were unable to qualify through their domestic league, but are high up in UEFA’s club coefficient – a ranking of Europe’s top football clubs.
For example, Arsenal are very unlikely to finish outside of the top four in the Premier League, which gives clubs qualification to the Champions League. However, if this was to happen from 2024 Arsenal would qualify due to their status and past successes in UEFA’s club football competitions.
Under the new format, teams will play four matches more than is currently the case. They will instead face fixtures against 10 different teams, half of them at home and half of them away. This gives the opportunity for clubs to test themselves against a wider range of opponents – and also raises the prospect of fans seeing the top teams go head-to-head more often, earlier in the competition.
The current UEFA Champions League has 32 teams in eight groups of four. They play three opponents twice – home and away. The teams that finish first and second in these groups progress to the knockout stages and the 16 teams left split into two pots of eight.
Those who finish first to eighth will go straight through to the knockout stages of the new UEFA Champions League format. However, those between ninth and 16th will be seeded in the play-off draw, meaning they will face a team placed 17th to 24th – with home advantage in the second-leg match. The knockout stages remain the same as the current format.
A club is drawn from each pot to determine what the matchups would be in each round of the knockout stage. The round of sixteen, quarter-finals and semi-finals are all two-legged ties where each team plays each other home and away before the final which is only a one-off game.
The teams that finish 25th or lower in the new format will be eliminated, with no access to the UEFA Europa League. Currently, the teams that finish third in the Champions League group stage are added to the Europa League Knockout stages.
The majority of fans are against this new idea and believe the chance to play Champions League football should be earned through their success in domestic competitions like the Premier League in England or the Bundesliga in Germany.
Here is what some fans and players had to say…
With all the Super League stuff going on… can we please also speak about the new Champions League format? More and more and more games, is no one thinking about us players?
The new UCL format is just the lesser of the two evils in comparison to the Super League…
— Ilkay Gündogan (@IlkayGuendogan) April 22, 2021
Hope everyone keeps the same energy for the new Champions League format, it’s based on the same principle. Keep it the way it is, if you don’t make top 4 you don’t qualify, no exceptions.
— Mod (@CFCMod_) April 21, 2021
This new Champions league format is literally 50 times worse than Super league format, which will definitely kill this sport.
— Rk (@RkFutbol) April 21, 2021
Photo: UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin is under huge pressure to scrap the new Champions League format