The heads of the two bodies representing Europe’s clubs and league have renewed their war of words over qualification for the Champions League in the post-2024 cycle and how European competitions should be structured.
Andreas Agnelli, president of the European Clubs Association (ECA), and Lars-Christer Olsson, who runs the European Leagues umbrella grouping, both appeared at the Leaders in Sports Business Summit in London but presented very different interpretations of how the game should be revamped.
Proposals for a radical overhaul of European club football’s flagship competition, bringing in a promotion and relegation system, were shelved last month amid fears of a closed shop.
But Agnelli, the driving force behind the changes, says the Champions League has become too predictable.
“If we think about the group stage of the Champions League, all of us can guess 15 out of 16 who will qualify for the last 16,” he said. “The first two teams in each group of the Champions League are probably written. We want to find more relevant games.
“Much has been said about wanting to kill domestic leagues. No – we want to maintain symbiosis with the leagues. We absolutely agree that champions should have access to international competitions.”
Agnelli called on major domestic leagues to drop their opposition to the UEFA-backed plans which propose a 32-team Champions League with guaranteed entry for 24 clubs and increasing the number of matches for each team from six to 10.
“What’s healthy is people having a positive contribution,” Agnelli told his audience. “But ‘no, no, no’ as an answer, which we have heard from the leagues in the past couple of months, is not really healthy … We want to see more European matches with higher sporting quality.”
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