By Brian Homewood
NYON, Switzerland (Reuters) – Europe’s top club coaches have asked UEFA to review the use of the away goals rule in continental competitions because scoring away from home is not as difficult as it used to be.
They also want the transfer window to end at the same time in all the region’s major leagues.
UEFA’s deputy general secretary Giorgio Marchetti confirmed that the European soccer body would “open a discussion” on the use of the away goals rule which is used to determine the winners of knockout ties when the aggregate score is level.
The annual meeting included Massimiliano Allegri (Juventus), Carlos Ancelotti (Napoli), Unai Emery (Arsenal), Paulo Fonseca (Shakhtar Donetsk), Julen Lopetegui (Real Madrid) Jose Mourinho (Manchester United), Thomas Tuchel (Paris St Germain) and former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
“The coaches think that scoring goals away is not as difficult as it was in the past… so they think the rule should be reviewed and that’s what we will do,” Marchetti told reporters.
“They consider the situation in football has changed and the weight of the away goals is not the same as many years ago when the rule was introduced.”
The rule was first introduced in the former European Cup Winners’ Cup competition in 1965 as an alternative to tossing a coin or staging a replay on a neutral ground.
At the time, playing away in Europe was a huge challenge which involved difficult travel and intimidating, unfamiliar conditions abroad, a far cry from today where it is considered routine.
Marchetti said the coaches felt the rule was also counter-productive and that, as much as encouraging away teams to attack, it induced home teams to defend to avoid conceding a costly goal.
“This is one of the points that needs to be looked at,” he said.
On the transfer window, he said the coaches wanted more countries to follow the example of England and Italy and close them before the start of the season.
The transfer windows in England and Italy were changed this year in response to complaints last year that they had overshadowed the action on the pitch and made it difficult for coaches to plan.
However, in Spain, Germany and France, they continued until the end of August as before.
“The coaches are of an opinion that there should be a unified window and the window should close before the competition starts,” said Marchetti. “The idea would be to try and bring them into line.”
(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Toby Davis)