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.

It is unclear how … Read More...

English fans criticise Uefa for final ticket numbers

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Supporter groups have called for “a fundamental overhaul” of Uefa’s “disgraceful” treatment of fans after being allocated only a third of tickets for showpiece European finals.

Fans accused Uefa of “cashing in” and want “transparency” over Champions League and Europa League final tickets.

Some tickets are already available on third-party websites for £5,500.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp also called for more “sensible and reasonable” decisions on where finals are staged.

Klopp said he had sympathy for supporters facing elevated prices for hotel rooms and flights, and with the challenge facing fans travelling to the Europa League final between Arsenal and Chelsea in Azerbaijan on 29 May.

Supporters will need a visa to enter Azerbaijan and London-based fans face a journey of more than 2,468 miles to Baku Olympic Stadium.

Klopp said: “How can you have finals in Kiev [where Liverpool played last year’s Champions League final] and Baku? I don’t know what these travel guys have for breakfast.”

Liverpool and Tottenham fans will share 33,226 tickets for the Madrid final, which takes place in a stadium with 68,000 seats.

Arsenal and Chelsea fans will share 12,000 of 68,700 seats in Baku.

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said he is “suffering” for Spurs and Liverpool fans because of the cost of visiting Madrid, where the sides meet in the Champions League final on 1 June.

“Yesterday I was calling some hotel to try and book some rooms because I don’t know if my family is going to be there, some family, some people from Argentina,” said Pochettino.

“I wanted to book and it was so difficult and the prices are so crazy.”

Uefa said its “recent experience” with finals in “comparable venues” meant “the number of finalists’ supporters requesting tickets for a Uefa Europa League final can … Read More...