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Uefa and ECA ‘discuss expanded Champions League’

A view of the match ball prior to UEFA Champions League group E match between Liverpool FC and KRC Genk (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Uefa and the European Clubs Association are reportedly close to agreeing an expansion of the Champions League from 2024-25, in which clubs would play up to 17 matches per season compared to the current 13.

The two parties discussed the move at a recent meeting in Paris, and it was first reported by UK newspaper The Times last week. The ECA is a body representing the interests of 232 professional clubs in Europe.

The extra matches are reported to be planned in an expanded group stage of the competition. AS.com reported that there look to be two ways of doing this – re-introducing a second group stage, a structure which was used in the competition from 1999 to 2003; or increasing the number of teams in each group at the group stage.

Uefa and the ECA are reported to expect increases in revenue from media rights and gate receipts to follow from the changes.

Another UK newspaper, The Telegraph, reported that the Champions League expansion would threaten participation of the top English clubs in the English League Cup competition.

Some of Europe’s top clubs have long agitated for changes to the format of the Champions League. There were reports in late 2018 that 16 of them were working on a breakaway ‘European Super League’, in which the continent’s leading clubs would play every season without needing to qualify. Uefa has publicly opposed any such move and pledged to work closely with the ECA on changes to continental clubs competitions. Last year, the two parties signed a memorandum of understanding, and Uefa president Aleksander Čeferin said: “We will work hand in hand with our partner, the European Club Association (ECA), to design the club competitions of the future. Club competitions that are in keeping with the times, full of excitement and intensity and open, which will bring a new dimension to European football.”