Champions League reform unlikely this year as Uefa postpones talks with clubs and leagues

Uefa has postponed talks with European clubs and leagues to discuss the future of the Champions League and its other European club competitions, making any reforms to these competitions unlikely this year.

Uefa president Aleksander Čeferin was scheduled to meet with European Club Association (ECA) chairman Andrea Agnelli and European Leagues president Lars-Christer Olsson for the talks on 11 September. But Associated Press (AP) has obtained a letter from Čeferin to the two parties delaying the discussion indefinitely.

“I have decided to postpone the meeting,” wrote Čeferin in the letter seen by the AP. “I will send a new invitation as soon as I think that we are ready for a meaningful discussion.”

Earlier this year, Uefa and Agnelli had championed reformatting the Champions League as a semi-closed competition from 2024 onwards, arguing that this would create greater commercial certainty for smaller European clubs who have to qualify for the group stages every year. The proposals included provision for promotion and relegation between Uefa’s three club competitions, cutting across the principle of qualification through domestic leagues.

The controversial plans met with opposition from many clubs, with the 20 teams in the English Premier League adopting a joint stance against the changes. Fifteen clubs in Serie A also voted in favour of a measure to oppose the reforms.

The opposition has forced Uefa and the ECA to go back to the drawing board with their plans. In an interview with The Times in July, Čeferin suggested Uefa could try to ‘protect’ clubs that reached the latter stages of the Champions League from the 2024/27 competition cycle onwards. This would be to provide greater continuity for teams such as Dutch Eredivisie champion Ajax, which reached the stage last year but is not guaranteed to reach the group stage this season.

“We are currently in the process of gathering feedback from our national associations,” Čeferin wrote to Agnelli and Olsson, “and I feel — more generally — that a new discussion now would be premature as we are analyzing feedback and proposals coming from different parties.

“As you know very well, Uefa deliberately kicked off the review process for the 2024-27 competition cycle much ahead of our regular schedule and we are therefore in no hurry. We do not, in any case, expect to make a decision this year.”

The ECA Executive Board is scheduled to discuss Uefa club competition reforms when it meets for the final time in its current cycle at Anfield, the home of current Uefa Champions League title-holder Liverpool, this Friday. The board will also discuss ECA membership for the upcoming 2019-23 cycle at the meeting.