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UEFA to make controversial change to the Champions League's qualification process

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Football fans, rejoice - the UEFA Champions League is close to returning to our screens.

The 2016/17 campaign kicks off on September 13 and with Real Madrid the holders, an action-packed nine months await with all those involved gunning for European glory.

Thursday evening played host to the highly-anticipated draw but a few hours before it commenced, Sky Sports reporter Kaveh Solhekol dropped a rather large bombshell about the competition's future.

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UEFA are due to make a big announcement on Friday regarding format changes but Solhekol somewhat jumped the gun to reveal what they have in store.

Scroll down to see what he had to say.

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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE CHANGES

Now, from a fan's perspective, this is great news: more money for the clubs we support and a greater chance of automatically qualifying for the Champions League.

But spare a thought for those outside of England, Spain, Germany and Italy's top-flights, who will undoubtedly suffer from UEFA's elitest approach.

By giving the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga and Serie A four automatic qualifying spots, lesser divisions across Europe now face an even tougher task to feature and generate more money.

As the saying goes: 'the rich get richer'.

Real Madrid v Club Atletico de Madrid - UEFA Champions League Final

In a Q&A on ESPN's website, Italian-born journalist Gabriele Marcotti explained how the changes will negatively effect those outside of Europe's top four leagues.

He said: "It's a bit of a screw job. This is not just about the fewer spots available to everybody else, it's also the advantage that goes to the team that goes to the big league.

"It removes the uncertainty of the playoff stage, which allows you to raise more money from sponsors and makes it easier to plan. The rich will get richer; there's no escaping that."

And the reason behind UEFA's new ruling? Revenue.

"They (UEFA) found themselves between a rock and a hard place," Marcotti added. "Some of the big clubs from the big leagues had been lobbying for this for a while.

FBL-EUR-C1-DRAW-TROPHY

"Most of the revenue that comes into the Champions' League comes from broadcast and sponsorship rights. And, obviously, sponsors and broadcasters pay with the expectation that they'll see a Juventus or a Real Madrid or a Manchester United in the competition.

"If you can guarantee that, they figure it guarantees a certain level of audience. Therefore, they're happy to pay more.

"The big clubs argue that because they invest more in their squads and generate more revenue for the competition, they should get more back and their participation should not be in doubt.

"They were threatening to do something about it unless the system was changed."

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Topics:
Manchester United
Bundesliga
Barcelona
La Liga
UEFA Champions League
Real Madrid
Football
Bayern Munich
Premier League
Cristiano Ronaldo
Lionel Messi

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