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Weekend games, promotion and relegation among new Champions League proposals

Uefa and the European Club Association will meet tomorrow (Tuesday) to discuss potential changes to the Champions League, with weekend fixtures and a promotion/relegation system among the proposals.

While talks of a breakaway “Super League” involving the continent’s biggest club football sides have subsided – for now, at least – ways are still being sought to better commercially exploit the Champions League, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Moving games to weekends, allowing fixtures to be played in different time slots and hopefully capture a bigger global television audience, has long been rumoured, and will be discussed at tomorrow’s meeting, described by Juventus chairman and executive member of the ECA Andrea Agnelli as a “brainstorming session”.

A potentially bigger change could come in the form of revisions to the qualifying structure, with some clubs said to be pushing for a more closed system of promotion and relegation. This would offer elite clubs a greater guarantee of receiving Champions League revenue year after year, while avoiding the entirely closed system of the proposed Super League.

The biggest proponents of the changes are said to come from outside England, whose Premier League already offers major financial rewards to all its clubs. As the Daily Telegraph notes, the 20th-placed team in the Premier League currently earns more in television rights and prize money than the first-placed team in France.

Thus the Premier League is expected to protect its own ascendancy before seeking changes to the Champions League. Meanwhile the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain are expected to push harder for revisions as they look for ways to build revenues outside their domestic leagues.

Uefa would not comment directly on any of the proposals, but said that it would “hold similar meetings with other stakeholder groups in the coming months, in order to allow for a proper consultation process before drawing up concrete proposals that could be studied more in-depth before any decisions are made.”

Uefa and the ECA are looking to reform European competitions at the same time Fifa is courting the leading European teams to take part in its plans for a revamped Club World Cup. Fifa would like Europe to provide eight club sides to take part in the new quadrennial competition which is being moved from December to the summer months.

However, 15 clubs on the European Club Association’s (ECA) Executive Board signed a letter advising Fifa they would boycott the new competition ahead of last Friday’s Fifa Council in Miami. The letter reiterated the ECA’s position that any potential new competitions can only be made as part of an agreed framework for the international match calendar post-2024.