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Čeferin open to single-legged Champions League ties

Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin during a press conference following the Uefa Executive Committee meeting (Photo by Harold Cunningham - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

Uefa president Aleksander Čeferin has revealed that he would be open to single-legged knockout ties in future Champions League and Europa League seasons after football’s European governing body introduced the format for the latter stages of the 2019-20 campaign.

The Covid-19 pandemic forced Uefa to conclude the Champions League in Portugal and the Europa League in Germany, with straight knockout matches introduced instead of the traditional two-legged affairs.

Čeferin (pictured) said he would discuss the prospect of introducing a similar format in future seasons, citing the “exciting” nature of the competition finales. The Slovenian added that single-legged ties would be financially viable “if promoted properly”.

“I have to say that this system of one match seems more interesting to me than the other system with two-legged matches,” Čeferin told the Associated Press ahead of yesterday’s (Sunday’s) Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain.

“It’s one of the interesting things that was brought by this pandemic. We had to do a system like that. We had to play this way, but at the end, we see it’s a very interesting system.

“Now, it’s quite complicated to place a final eight in the calendar. But we saw that people want exciting matches, that in one match, every team can beat every team in the Champions League or the Europa League. So it’s something to consider for the future…I think in September or October, we have to start to seriously speak.”

Čeferin has previously said it would be “impossible” for Uefa to replicate the final eight model in full in future seasons due to the already packed nature of the football calendar.

A condensed final four competition could be feasible, though, and Čeferin intimated that this would be an option for Uefa, which is locked into the current format until the 2024-25 season.

“You are in the centre of attention for a week of the whole world and this might be a fantastic thing, but we have to see,” he added. “The calendar is very complicated, players play almost 365 days per year. So we have to see how we do it, if we do it.

“But again, I think it’s an interesting format, which we didn’t think about before and now it’s somewhere here in our mind. So we will start discussing about it when we meet up.”

In a separate interview with French newspaper L’Équipe, Čeferin said that the finale of this season’s Champions League has proven the competitive nature of the tournament, with relatively unfancied teams in Olympique Lyonnais and RB Leipzig having reached the semi-finals.

With this in mind, Čeferin suggested that a mooted European Super League comprising elite clubs would not be viable and insisted that the Champions League is here to stay.

“A European Super League with 12 or even 24 clubs would be a very boring competition,” he said. “When I talk to the supposed big clubs, I don’t see any point in creating a Super League. From time to time, one of them speaks on this subject. But they know very well that the Champions League is the best sports competition in the world.”