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European Leagues want fairer spread of riches in future

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ZURICH (Reuters) – The riches from Europe’s lucrative club competitions should be spread more evenly in future and any expansion must not come at the expensive of domestic leagues, the European Leagues umbrella group said on Friday.

UEFA wants to revamp its club competitions from 2024 onwards and is currently working with the European Club Association on possible formats.

An initial proposal was for a three-tier pan European league with promotion and relegation between the divisions, according to league officials who have seen it.

The top tier would be the new version of the Champions League but 24 of the 32 teams would keep their places for the following season, breaking the tradition that qualification is achieved through performance in domestic competition and prompting opposition from Europe’s domestic leagues.

On Friday, the European Leagues group said that any redesigning of European competition should be based on three principles: protection of domestic leagues, increased participation and fairer financial distribution.

“The European Leagues are in favour of innovations in football including evolving the UEFA Champions League,” it said in a document which presented its principles.

“However, these must be under the condition that any changes contribute to the growth of professional football as a whole and not just for a very few.”

The European Leagues welcomed the three-tier system but said that only the Champions League winners should keep their place in the following year’s competition — as happens now — and that only the winners of the lower two tiers should be promoted.

It said that the number of matchdays reserved for European club competition in the calendar should remain at 17 — a total that does not include the first three qualifying rounds playing in July and August — and matches should continue to be played in midweek, leaving weekends free for domestic games.

UEFA currently organises two continental club competitions, the Champions League and the Europa League with a third, known as Europa League 2, to start in 2021.

The European Leagues also proposed that solidarity payments — paid to the clubs which do not qualify for European competition — be increased from the current 7.3% to 20 percent of European club competition revenue.

“The European Leagues… have shown they are open to new innovations providing they are underpinned by the principles of current sporting merits, the primacy of domestic football, and the need to respect the domestic football calendar beloved by fans,” said European Leagues president Lars-Christer Olsson.

(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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