Words: Sam Diss
Image: Offside Sports Photography
According to the Wall Street Journal's scoop, the Champions League could start to look very different in coming seasons…
Disrupting the sacred Tuesday and Wednesday routine that we’ve held so dear for so long (any excuse for a midweek beer), Tuesday will see a meeting between UEFA and Europe’s top clubs to discuss— among other things—weekend match and relegation battles in Europe’s premier club tournament.
How this would improve things for fans is, as yet, unclear. There’s probably a vague “It could be more fun????” scribble in someone football bigwig’s notebook right now, but potential changes will be on the table in a "brainstorming session" at UEFA’s Swiss HQ, the governing body confirmed to Telegraph Sport.
The line is being lead by teams from outside the Premier League, as they look to protect themselves from the Prem’s monstrous television rights deals, PEDs that beef up English club coffers to levels neatly indicated by four of the last eight teams in the Champions League being from the country's top tier. Many other teams are struggling to compete financially and see a restructuring of the fixtures as an opportunity to negotiate some cushy deals for themselves. As Telegraph Sport points out, the bottom-placed Premier League team currently earns more in prize money and TV rights than the champions of France. You can see why they’d be annoyed.
These are only preliminary discussions, but they’re significant as the first formal talks to redraw the world’s most prestigious club competition from 2024 (even if some clubs would prefer a new Champions League from 2021).— Joshua Robinson (@JoshRobinson23) March 17, 2019
Despite appearing to comfortably see off many talks about a controversial, breakaway “European Super League”, the fellas behind the UCL will want to throw the big teams outside of England a bone somewhere.
How “relegation” would work differently than simply “knockouts” is anyone’s guess, but Saturday night football, which started as a pain for fans, can lead to some glorious moments under the lights (just ask anyone within howling distance of the Molineux after Wolves’ win over Man United in the FA Cup quarters).
Getting fans into the stadium isn’t really UEFA’s MO and, despite the opportunity for a few wicked long weekends in North Rhine-Westphalia, they’ll be seeing the tournament as an increasingly televisual event. We’re all for a levelling of the playing field and we’ll never say that the Champions League is anything other than an exhibition of the greatest football on the planet, but you’d imagine UEFA probably seeing the death of weekend dates to the cinema as the perfect opportunity for people to bed-in and relax at home in front of some premium Gazprom action.
Guess we’ll see you on Wednesday.