Arsene Wenger has explained why he is against new proposals from UEFA to reform and expand the format of the Champions League.
UEFA are coming under increasing pressure to make adjustments to the Champions League amid the ongoing threat of a potential breakaway competition, the continent’s wealthiest clubs demanding more revenue and more glamour ties against Europe’s finest.
The latest proposals include expanding the current format from 32 teams to 36 in a “Swiss model” that would see teams play 10 group stage fixtures in a league format before progressing to the knockout stages.
The plans also include controversial entrants based on historical performance in European competitions, with the proposals for four wildcard entrants based on coefficient ranking deemed largely as a safety net for big clubs who endure a poor domestic campaign.
There has also been opposition from Premier League side’s outside of the ‘top six’, with concerns over the future of the League Cup, increased fixtures into an already congested calendar and potential impact on domestic broadcast revenue.
Wenger – now working as FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development after leaving Arsenal in 2018 – has given his verdict on the plans and admits he is not a fan of potential changes which are simply a way of satisfying the greed of Europe’s wealthiest clubs.
“Look, to make it simple and honest, I would say the clubs always want more money,” he told beIn Sports.
“To get more money, they want more guaranteed games. The fans want more games of significance, that means they want games with meaning.
“Modern football has to find a compromise between what the clubs want – more money – and what the fans want – simplicity, clarity and competition of meaning.
“In between, you have now the media who start to dictate what should happen, so that will be, honestly, a huge battle in the future.
“Personally, I think the model that is proposed for the modern Champions League, I don’t like it at all.”
Wenger was asked if his stance would be altered had he remained in charge of Arsenal, with the Gunners amongst the sides who would potentially benefit from an expanded competition having failed to qualify for the Champions League since the 2016/17 season.
The Frenchman maintained he would remain against the current proposals being put forward, revealing his unease with being allowed to compete in the Champions League despite not earning a place through ‘sporting merit’.
“I would not like it at all,” he insisted. “Because I think as long as we in the game don’t respect the sporting merit in a logical way, we are not right, and I would think all people who play top-level competition would say you have to keep the merit of the quality of your performance.”