MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s La Liga is in danger because of a proposal from European soccer body UEFA to create a Champions League that would be largely closed off to outsiders, its president Javier Tebas said Monday.
UEFA is working with the European Club Association (ECA), whose members includes Europe’s biggest clubs, to redesign the Champions League from 2024 onwards but has not given any details on proposals, saying discussions are at an early stage.
However, sources with knowledge of the matter have told Reuters that there was a concrete proposal to create a European league with three divisions, with promotion and relegation between each.
The top division would be the equivalent of the current Champions League and would have 32 teams, but divided into four groups of eight rather then eight groups of four. This would mean teams playing 14 group stage games instead of six.
Twenty-four teams would qualify automatically for the following year’s competition with four more promoted from
the second tier — currently the Europa League — and only four places open to champions of Europe’s 54 domestic leagues.
This would break with the tradition that teams qualify for European competition through their domestic leagues.
“They are talking about a reform of the Champions, but really it is a new competition. The (domestic) leagues have been the way of qualifying for the Champions League but that won’t be the case any more,” Tebas said during a progamme on the Gol television channel.
“A number of clubs will be established who are always among the 32. On a scale out of 10, my level of worry is seven to eight.”
“Is La Liga in danger? Yes, without doubt. UEFA can’t do this and we want to convince other institutions that this cannot go ahead. We are working on a strategy.”
Referring to the proposed competition as a Super League, he added: “The broadcast rights in Europe will change. There will be less money to share around the other clubs….and, in four or five years, the inequality will be enormous.”
Last week, Lars-Christer Olsson, head of the European Leagues umbrella grouping which includes La Liga, said the current situation was more worrying than in the 1990s, when the top clubs threatened to form a breakaway league.
“The problem is that the discussions are taking place between the clubs and UEFA and that would mean a closed league under the umbrella of UEFA,” he said.
Both Olsson and Tebas have said that only a small number of big clubs are in favour of the reported UEFA proposals.
UEFA could not immediately be reached for comment.
(Writing by Brian Homewood; additional reporting by Rik Sharma; Editing by Stephen Powell)