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European soccer clubs boss suggests Champions League overhaul

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European soccer clubs boss suggests Champions League overhaul
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LONDON (Reuters) – The head of the association representing Europe’s most powerful clubs has suggested that the opening stage of the Champions League should consist of four groups of eight rather than the current format of eight groups of four.

Andrea Agnelli, chairman of the European Club Association (ECA), told the Guardian newspaper in an interview that Europe’s top teams should play more matches in international club competition and fewer in their respective leagues.

Agnelli, also president of Serie A champions Juventus, said the ideas were being discussed among Europe’s top clubs, including those from England’s Premier League.

“We all want more international (European) games and less domestic, combined with an overall reduction of games because we don’t want to go over a certain number,” he said.

Agnelli suggested keeping the current 32-team group stage but rearranging it into four groups of eight. This would mean that teams play 14 matches instead of six at present.

“You could say that whoever participates has to play in the national league with six under-21 or under-23 players,” he said, adding: “It’s brainstorming because there isn’t a project at the moment.”

He was not suggesting a breakaway league.

“I think if we manage to find some grounds in which we can discuss this with the European national associations, the European leagues, UEFA and the clubs, I think it’s just a normal evolution you would have in the game,” he said.

“Whether we are Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus, or Legia Warsaw, Sporting and Anderlecht, we all want more international exposure, to develop our brands. Today everything is about brand exposure.”

(Reporting by Brian Homewood; Editing by John O’Brien)

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