Changes could be coming to a Champions League near you. It has been proposed that some tinkering needs doing to the competition’s structure and entrance qualifications. Clubs across Europe, including Liverpool and presumably other big, Premier League clubs, are assembling for a shareholders meeting to discuss new rules to potentially take effect in the 2024/25 season.
Increasing the amount of group stage matches is on the table along with a plan to restructure the groups. The proposal supports going forward with 4 groups of 8 teams instead of the current 8 groups of 4 teams. That’s 14 group matches in all and then the top four from each group would advance to the Round of 16. Liverpool played 6 group stages matches this season.
Premier League representatives are concerned that more European games would interfere with domestic cup competitions in England. Other clubs around the continent will have similar concerns. Money will be at the source of the initial efforts in this scheme said to be heavily backed by Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli who is an executive member of the European Football Association but it’s not the only rule change on offer.
Alterations to the way clubs gain admission to the Champions League is also up for discussion. The new motion suggests that only historically proficient European contenders will be entered in the competition, doing away with top-four qualification in the Premier League altogether. Liverpool would be included every season despite their league position as would all the other big guns around Europe.
It’s unclear how the qualification process would go, though. Would your club’s inclusion be voted on? Who would vote? Could a club ever lose its Champions League status and be kicked out? And is that the only way that a new club could be called up to the big stage, by replacing the cast off? And if so, would that open the door to bribery or fraud?
It’s also unclear where the Liverpool owners side on these issues. A closed system means guaranteed money for Liverpool every season in the Champions League but it also shuts out qualification through outstanding league performances from “outside” teams. And I’m all for watching more Liverpool but 14 extra matches just sounds like a heavy load on the players and a great way to increase profits.