UEFA are to ‘hold talks’ this week over a ‘dramatic shake up’ of the Champions League, including proposals that would include clubs playing 10 different opponents in the group stage.
There is an increasing clamour from Europe’s leading clubs for more regular and lucrative fixtures against the superpowers of the continent, the continued threat of a breakaway ‘European Super League’ leading UEFA officials to consider drastic changes to the current format of their premier club competition.
According to the Times, the model currently being favoured is a ‘Swiss system’ that would place each of the 32 or 36 sides into a single division, though each would play just 10 fixtures – five home and five away.
Fixtures would be drawn randomly though seeding would be used to ensure fairness, with the points accumulated from each side’s 10 fixtures registered on a single league table with the top 16 sides reaching the knockout stages.
The draw for the knockout stages would see the side which finishes top of the league standings face the 16th-placed qualifier, with second facing 15th and so forth.
The eight teams finishing 17th-24th would drop into the Europa League’s knockout stages.
It’s a radical change to the current format in which 32 teams are placed into eight groups of four with home and away fixtures, the changes hoped to end meaningless group stage clashes and increase the number of glamour ties.
Additional fixtures in continental competition would add additional pressure to an already congested football calendar in England, however, raising the prospect of European sides dropping out of the League Cup and the scrapping of FA Cup replays.
UEFA are expected to present the proposals to European football officials this week with confidence growing the changes could lead to a more exciting group stage and appease the demands of Europe’s wealthiest clubs.