In recent weeks, there has been plenty of talk about a possible European Super League.
The idea appears a bit far-fetched and it's unlikely that the major clubs in the continent will agree to it.
The solution? A major revamp of the Champions League.
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UEFA have produced the idea of the change to ensure the smaller sides have a reduced presence in the competition.
UEFA plan to half the group stage to just 16 teams with the move being driven by European clubs’ concern that they are falling short of the huge revenues generated by the Premier League.
Reports suggest that the group stage will be split into two mini ‘super-leagues’. That would mean eight teams in each league with every club playing 14 matches, home and away.
It’s believed that UEFA will confirm any changes at some stage next season, although the new format is unlikely to be implemented until after the 2017/18 campaign due to the Champions League currently being in the first term of a three-year rights contract.
A UEFA spokesperson told the Guardian: “Uefa is in constant contact with all stakeholders, including the clubs, on all football matters. Therefore, any plans to evolve the format of our club competitions would be coordinated and negotiated together with them. There are currently no concrete proposals on the table since we are at the beginning of a new cycle (2015-18) of our club competitions.”
The transformation of Europe’s elite competition will include more knockout rounds before the group phase. The top 16 seeds will start the tournament in the last 32 and they would avoid each other in the draw, only needed to win a tie over two legs to progress into the last-16.
This would give them a better chance of avoiding smaller teams during the group stage.
Money, money, money
The reason for UEFA doing this is, as you’d expect, is all about money.
During discussions, they used the example of the group matches between Barcelona and BATE Borisov during this seasons’ tournament. They stated that the viewing figures were so low, and the victories of 2-0 and 3-0 were so comfortable, that it prompted the organisation to attempt to weed out the weaker clubs.
While it’s understood that the majority of big European sides are against a super league, the idea of playing more lucrative matches in the Champions League, rather than numerous low-key European fixtures that include lots of travelling, may appeal.
It’s seems that this new format could be the first step towards a super league, but there’s no denying that it would make the Champions League a far more exciting tournament.
The final 16 teams playing 14 matches each would mean that fans could watch plenty of European heavyweights clashing and the winner of the tournament would have really deserved the trophy.