By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) – Chelsea manager Frank Lampard sees no need for more European club matches, he said on Thursday, as discussions continued over the future of UEFA competitions.
The European Club Association (ECA), representing more than 200 clubs, says it wants more matches and more teams involved when new formats are introduced from 2024.
However, this has run into opposition from the region’s national leagues who argue that any expansion must not come at the expense of domestic football.
“At the minute. ..I think the level is about right,” Lampard told reporters during an event organised by the European Leagues umbrella organisation.
“The competition is good, we have the group stage, can we get through that. ..I like the format personally as a manager now.
“If you ask me can we play more European games, I personally don’t know where you’d fit them in amongst our busy schedule,” he added.
“I always find it hard with the players to keep the quality level and the freshness within the (team) so I think if we did do that there would be a lot of discussion about how that worked practically.”
Lampard said he had a soft spot for the League Cup which would be the obvious casualty if teams need to fit in more games.
“We won it a couple of times at Chelsea and it was the first competition I ever did win,” he said.
An initial proposal, drawn up by UEFA in conjunction with the ECA earlier this year, has been sidelined by strong opposition.
It had envisaged a three-tier pan European league with promotion and relegation between the divisions.
The top tier would have been the new version of the Champions League but with 24 of the 32 teams keeping their places for the following season, breaking the tradition that qualification is achieved through domestic competition.
European Leagues chairman Lars-Christer Olsson said football, not finance, had to be the main consideration in redesigning UEFA competition.
“The starting point has to be football and not the distribution of revenues,” said the Swede, a former UEFA chief executive. “We have to remember that we are a sport first and foremost.”
Marc Ingla, chief executive of French club Lille, told Reuters that clubs wanted more European games.
“All clubs want more Europe and better Europe but not at the cost of losing access rights to these competitions, not at the cost of having a marginal portion of the revenue that can be generated or at the cost of giving even more means to the top clubs,” he said.
(Writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Ed Osmond)