By Brian Homewood
ZURICH (Reuters) – UEFA will meet representatives from European clubs on Tuesday to begin discussions over the future of the Champions League and other continental competitions from 2024 onwards, European soccer’s governing body said Monday.
Both sides have hinted at extensive changes to European club competitions when a new international calendar comes into force in 2024.
UEFA said that Tuesday’s meeting would be a brainstorming session between itself and the European Club Association (ECA), which represents 232 clubs from across the continent.
“There is a meeting tomorrow,” UEFA said in a statement to Reuters. “There is nothing secret about this brainstorming session.”
UEFA said it would then meet other stakeholders, such as the players and the leagues, in the following months to “exchange ideas before concrete proposals are developed and decisions are made.”
After being re-elected in February, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said the European body would work with the ECA to devise new tournaments which would bring a “new dimension” to European football.
Ceferin promised “club competitions that are in keeping with the times, full of excitement and intensity and open.”
He said there would be no threat of a breakaway Super League as long as he was UEFA president and Andrea Agnelli — the president of Juventus — was chairman of the ECA.
A report in the Wall Street Journal on Sunday said that suggestions which could be discussed including staging Champions League matches at weekends and a more closed qualifying system.
Agnelli has previously suggested replacing the current eight groups of four with four groups of eight, which would mean far more games.
European club competitions run in three-year cycles with the current one ending in 2021.
The format for the following 2021-24 cycle was decided last year with the addition of a new third-tier competition in addition to the Champions League and the Europa League.
The Champions League, meanwhile, will maintain the same format introduced in 2018 which controversially saw a reduction in the number of places open to teams from Europe’s smaller leagues.
The competition is dominated by a handful of elite clubs and the group stage has been marked by increasingly one-sided matches in the last few years. Last week, English champions Manchester City thumped Bundesliga side Schalke 7-0 in a last 16 second leg to win 10-2 on aggregate.
Some critics say that UEFA’s revenue distribution system creates a snowball effect as it is partly based on clubs’ historical records – something which favours big clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan.
(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Christian Radnedge)