Čeferin encouraged by club competition talks

Uefa president Aleksander Čeferin has said today (Friday) that he is “encouraged” by talks between national associations over the future of the body’s club competitions.

Uefa has held preliminary discussions with the European Club Association regarding changes to its competitions post-2024. Leaked documents released last week indicated that Uefa is considering proposals to restructure the Champions League as a semi-closed competition.

The documents emerged after a meeting between Uefa and European Leagues and proposed that 24 of the 32 teams taking part in the group stages of a reformatted competition would retain their places the following year, regardless of their domestic league standing.

Čeferin did not disclose details of Uefa’s plans today but said talks with the presidents and general secretaries of its 55 national associations were productive.

“I was encouraged by the positive response to the consultation process and by the solidarity among associations, with a recognition from the larger ones of the need to contribute more for the benefit of smaller nations,” he said.

“We remain focused on trying to find a way forward that meets the needs of the game across the whole of Europe not just in the big markets. Only Uefa distributes money across international boundaries and it is a responsibility we take very seriously.

“I was happy to repeat our commitment not to play Uefa club competition matches at weekends, with the exception of the Champions League Final.

“The consultation process is ongoing and we look forward to receiving the thoughts of other stakeholders directly, rather than having to piece them together from media statements. We will not decide anything without taking everyone’s views into account. We would never accept changes that would harm European football.”

Meanwhile, Ed Woodward, executive vice-chairman of English Premier League club Manchester United, has said the proposed changes for the Champions League are partly a result of domestic leagues “not necessarily thriving”.

United finished the 2018-19 Premier League season in sixth place, missing out on a Champions League spot. Proposals for a revamped Champions League would potentially increase the number of teams in a move that would benefit United and other teams that currently miss out on direct qualification.

Speaking on a conference call to United investors, Woodward discussed Uefa’s plans for the competition. “This is partly driven by domestic leagues across Europe not necessarily thriving and there being a desire from the clubs that are toward the top of those leagues to play more European games, which perhaps are more competitive,” he said, according to the Evening Standard newspaper.

“I think there is drive from Uefa, which is laudable, which is to try to give greater access to more teams.

“If you look at the year just about to finish, 80 teams competed in the two competitions and the proposal for (2024) is 128 teams so a greater than 50-per-cent increase in the number of teams playing in Europe.”