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UEFA contemplating changes to Champions League

UEFA, the governing body of European football, is investigating the possibility of changing some of the rules for Champions League competition in the future, including whether to keep the away goals rule, how to seed teams for the group draw, and whether to give naughty players timeouts.

Harold Cunningham

While the national team players are playing friendlies and Euro 2016 qualifiers, FC Bayern Munich has everyone else getting some much needed training time in at the Säbener Straße. Everyone? Well, one conspicuous absentee is the head coach, Pep Guardiola, who is attending a two day UEFA coach workshop in Nyon, Switzerland. None other than Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United legend, is running the show, with a veritable who's who of European coaches (Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger, Carlo Ancelotti to name a few) attending along with Pep.

One of the purposes of the conference was to evaluate and discuss some proposed changes to the rules of the CL competition, and provide feedback to UEFA.  Among the proposals are:

Away Goals Rule

Is it time to do away with counting away goals scored as the first tie-breaker? The rule was first introduced back in 1965/66, when travel to a far away city was still an adventure, and it was meant to make the long trip more palatable for the traveling team. But, travel across the continent is routine these days, and some people think the rule is antiquated and not entirely fair.

Changing Team Seeding

The current method of seeding is based on each club's record in the last 5 years of European competition (completely ignoring domestic accomplishments), and the historically 8 best teams end up in Pot 1, thereby avoiding the other "big boys". The problem is that teams that don't have much of a history in Europe, but still have formidable squads, end up winning their domestic league (indicating that they are one of the strongest on the continent), but end up seeded lower, and get drawn in very difficult groups, potentially causing one of the favorites to be knocked out before the knockout stage ever starts.

The proposal is to place the domestic champions of the "big" leagues (Spain, England, Germany, Italy, France) into Pot 1, along with the defending CL champion (if different). The obvious reason is to avoid having so-called "groups of death", with teams like Manchester City, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain (all winning their respective leagues) ending up in Pot 2.

However, no details were revealed about how the rest of the seeding would play out.  For example, would a second place team from one of the tougher leagues (say, Dortmund or Chelsea) get priority over a team that has more of a European history (Arsenal, Porto)?  Not surprisingly, the coaches were somewhat split on this one, with Ferguson and Jürgen Klopp (for obvious reasons) preferring the current system.

"Penalty Box"

One of the more controversial topics was an idea that Michel Platini had mentioned in the past, and would borrow from a sport like ice hockey, namely, giving players a "timeout" on the sideline, for an infraction that is not quite red-card-worthy, but deemed egregious enough to warrant more than just a warning (diving was one instance mentioned). According to Sir Alex, there was no consensus reached on this one, due to the controversial nature of the idea.

So, what are your thoughts?  Which of these changes could you get behind, and which ones are absolutely bonkers?  What adjustments would you like to see that weren't mentioned, in order to make the CL a more enjoyable viewing experience?

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