UEFA considering Champions League shake-up by 2024

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UEFA is considering a proposal to change the Champions League in 2024 in a way that would move toward a closed-off competition favoring elite clubs over rivals from smaller domestic leagues.

Documents seen by The Associated Press propose that 24 of the 32 teams in the 2024-25-group stage would retain their lucrative places the next season regardless of where they finish in national domestic leagues.

The documents match the aims of the influential European Club Association (ECA) which is competing for influence at UEFA with the European Leagues umbrella group.

The proposal would create eight-team groups kicking off in August, and narrow the entry path for teams from winners of lower-ranking leagues. The system, if approved by UEFA next year, would guarantee at least 14 Champions League games instead of the current six for each club, earning them tens of millions of euros (dollars) in extra revenue from broadcasting and sponsor deals struck by UEFA. The 16-team knockout stage would be retained, with seven further games for the two finalists.

The leagues group fears that will widen the wealth gap favoring an elite few and severely damage the competitive balance, commercial value and fan interest in national competitions.

UEFA’s draft plan suggests four Champions League teams will be relegated each season into the next season’s second-tier Europa League and be replaced by four Europa League semifinalists who would be promoted.

Only four qualifying places would be left for national champions competing in preliminary rounds.

It would leave the Dutch league runner-up – as Ajax was before reaching the Champions League semifinals this season – no route into the competition.

Four entries via preliminary rounds is a cut from the current six, while 10 places were on offer until last year.

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