Turmoil in European football continues as UEFA announced a revamped format of the Champions League just a day after the European Super League was launched. The changes, however, are expected to commence from the 2024-25 season and will see a number of considerable modifications compared to the present format.
The announcement of the refurbished Champions League was planned last month, but UEFA had to put that idea on hold with several big teams vowing to create their own private league imminently. And on Sunday, the entire football community was shell-shocked as twelve major European clubs declared themselves as the founders of a new European Super League, an answer to UEFA’s current prestigious tournament.
Alexander Ceferin, the UEFA president, immediately denounced the competition and threatened players participating with bans in domestic, continental and international matches,
“We are all united against this nonsense of a project. Cynical plan, completely against what football should be.
We cannot and will not allow that to change. UEFA and the footballing world stand united against the disgraceful self-serving proposal we have seen in the last 24 hours from a select few clubs in Europe that are fueled purely by greed above all else.
Players who will play in the teams that might play in the closed league will be banned from the World Cup and Euros. We urge everyone to stand tall with us as we do everything in our power to ensure this never ends up in fruition”Ceferin added.
Nevertheless, UEFA went on a step further and made the revamped model public on Monday. The 36-team new Champions League is due to start in 2024 and will run at least till 2033. All 36 qualified clubs will be put in a single league phase which replaces the existing group stage format. The teams would then face 10 opponents of varying strengths on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and even Thursdays every other week.
Clubs finishing in the top eight will automatically book their place in the knockout stages, while teams finishing from 9th to 24th have been handed another chance of advancement to the later rounds with two-legged play-off fixtures.
The Europa League will also see a similar change in the tournament’s present structure, with 36 teams playing eight matches in the initial league stages. The process of qualification to these tournaments, however, remains almost the same, with the final position in the domestic leagues deciding a team’s European spot.
But the format has seen its fair share of controversy with fans’ groups and pundits criticising that the additional four slots will be allocated based on previous performances to clubs with a higher UEFA coefficient.
In simple terms, a team that has not managed to qualify for the Champions League group stages in the past five seasons but managed to qualify for the Champions League and Europa League qualification phase will find themselves in the league table from 2024.
But all these changes appear to be dubious, with twelve powerhouses Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City, Man United, Tottenham, AC Milan, Inter, Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid all deciding to quit UEFA’s premier competition. And so, without these elite European clubs, the remodelled Champions League would unarguably lose all its glory, eminence and romance.
Meanwhile, Chelsea, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Arsenal are all scheduled to play the Champions League and Europa League semi-finals next week. But president Ceferin declared that he wants to kick them out from UEFA competitions “as soon as possible“, and is preparing “legal assessments” against them.
He was then asked whether the Champions League could continue without the twelve giants, to which he replied,
“Yes, of course. In Europe, there are many good clubs and devoted fans. You heard the changes already today of the UEFA changes from 2024. We will do it with or without them.”