The changes in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League that are set to take place from the 2024/25 season onward have been met with a mixed bag of reactions from the footballing world. There are decent arguments on both sides of the coin, but UEFA’s overall aim with these changes is to add competitiveness to the competition, particularly in the group stages by expanding the field from 24 teams to 36.
Bayern Munich CEO Oliver Kahn is particularly excited for the changes to come in Europe’s most elite club competition. From his point of view, expanding the field in the group stages will only help benefit the overall competitiveness of the competition itself, as he feels the group stages are too often dominated by only a handful of clubs.
“Every product needs an overhaul at some point. What bothers me about the current format is that the group stage is usually decided relatively early and by the same clubs. That’s why further development with a league and a table is exciting,” Kahn recently told kicker (via Sport1). “I can’t predict whether the new model of wisdom is the final word,” he cautiously added, not knowing how well, or if it all, the new system will work.
There’s also a financial aspect at play that will benefit a majority of the teams involved in the competitions. More teams in the group stages means more matches which will translate to increased ticket sales and television revenue, which most clubs are willingly ready to accept, especially after the losses suffered from the coronavirus pandemic.
Regardless of the financial benefits attached to the reformations, Kahn still sees making the competition overall more competitive as the most important factor of the changes that are set to come. “I’m always involved with the ECA and UEFA now: of course it’s also about money, but first and foremost it’s about making the competition as interesting as possible. It’s always the case that a format will only be a success if it’s attractive and emotionally embraced by viewers,” he explained.
Skeptics of the new Champions League format have closely compared it with the attempted, breakaway European Super League that faced swift backlash in the spring of 2021 when it was officially announced. The majority of clubs involved backed out of the deal after said backlash and its cultural principals were largely rejected by the fans. Despite the comparisons with the Champions League reforms, Kahn guaranteed that Bayern will never be a part of any sort of Super League. “We’ll have to see how this competition develops. But one thing I can say is that it will never be the case that FC Bayern will only play in a European league and no longer in the national league,” he affirmed.