Ed Woodward Manchester United
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Woodward admits UEFA’s Champions League plans are ‘interesting’

Manchester United chief Ed Woodward has admitted UEFA’s plans to overhaul the format of the Champions League are ‘interesting’.

UEFA have long discussed plans to alter the format of Europe’s premier competition, with any changes likely to favour the established elite.

The governing body are discussing a proposal to change the competition into a league format, in which clubs can be promoted and relegated.

An increased number of teams would therefore be involved, with the proposal similar to plans put forward by Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli, who suggested the introduction of a multi-league format to replace the Champions League and Europa League.

Woodward says UEFA’s ‘drive’ to include more clubs in European competition is ‘laudable’, admitting the proposals are ‘interesting’.

“First of all, I think this is partly driven by domestic leagues not necessarily thriving and there being a desire from the clubs that are towards the top of those leagues to play more European games,” Woodward told investors on a conference call.

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“There is a drive from UEFA, which is laudable, which is to try to give greater access to more teams.

“So, if you look at the year just about to finish, 80 teams competed in the two competitions and the proposal for 2024 is 128 teams, so a greater than 50 per cent increase in the number of teams playing in Europe.

“There are other factors as well, from our perspective we view these proposals as interesting but there’s a lot of work to do with stakeholders to assess this.

“We’re doing that ourselves together with our colleagues in the Premier League and the ECA.”

The United chief also confirmed that manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would be significantly backed in the coming transfer window, with the 46-year-old set for a summer overhaul of his squad after a disappointing campaign at Old Trafford.

“After a turbulent season, everyone at Manchester United is focused on building towards the success that this great club expects and our fans deserve,” Woodward added.

“Preparations for the new season are under way and the underlying strength of our business will allow us to support the manager and his team as we look to the future.”