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European Club Association and UEFA deliberate a new Champions League in 2024

The ECA firmly rejected FIFA’s proposal for a revamped Club World Cup. What might become of the Champions League is another question.

ALLIANZ STADIUM, TORINO, ITALY - 2019/03/24: Juventus FC President Andrea Agnelli attends the Italian Serie A football match between Juventus Fc Women and Fiorentina Women. Juventus Women wins 1-0 over Fiorentina Women.
Juventus president and chairman of the European Club Association, Andrea Agnelli.
Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images

At the general assembly of the European Club Association in Amsterdam on Tuesday, the 232 member clubs showed solidarity in rejecting Gianni Infantino’s proposal for a revised Club World Cup featuring 24 teams. Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who had recently expressed support for the proposal — linking Bayern with Real Madrid as the two outliers in Europe — missed the meeting due to sickness.

ECA chairman Andrea Agnelli said, ““We are at the moment not prepared to participate in this event,” and described FIFA’s approach to introducing it “like managing the local lottery for Thanksgiving” (DW)

The ECA held firm in its demand for transparency from FIFA and Infantino. Agnelli said, “We are used to managing a business. It means we need to have full overview on a project that is presented to us.” The biggest question revolves around who would receive the rights to the competition and, above all, what rights Infantino plans to sell to his mysterious $25 billion consortium.

Not a Super League...

The other major subject of the meeting concerns the cash cow of European soccer, the Champions League. It seems that the format of the Champions League will change radically when the current format expires in 2024. One idea is to introduce multiple levels to the competition by creating one or two additional leagues.

Relegation and promotion would move a club from one European league to the other. Currently, a club can only face a “relegation” of sorts from the Champions League to the Europa League. If the divisions of a European Champions League were to feature both promotion and relegation, that would entail that the membership of the constituent teams would be independent of their current standing in their national leagues. In other words, how a team finished domestically would have no impact on the Champions League status — if they continued to play in the traditional domestic leagues at all.

Another major change that would hurt domestic national leagues concerns the timing of the competition: could Champions League matches take place on the weekend? Agnelli declined to rule out the possibility. At present, only the Champions League final takes place on a Saturday — right after the regular season in the national leagues has ended. DFL president Christian Seifert has said that weekend Champions League games would constitute a “red line.”

The goal of the expanded format is, according to Agnelli, “to create a system in which all clubs from across Europe can participate and in which they can grow,” but Agnelli refused to commit to either promotion and relegation or to an expanded group stage (Kicker). It also is unclear how the system might work with the so-called “Europa League 2,” an additional level of the Europa League that will debut in 2021.

“At the moment, we’re seeing new players in the industry,” he said. “We have to understand how the landscape will look in 2024/25.”

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