European soccer governing body, UEFA, is considering a major overhaul to the Champions League, which could result in two groups of eight clubs.
The plans are aimed at pleasing the continent’s major clubs from the likes of Germany, Italy, Spain and England, who fear that the current Champions League, which features eight groups of four, does not attract sufficient commercial returns.
The new system, if implemented would be a step closer to the creation of some kind of ‘European Super League.’
It would involve an initial knockout round of 32 teams before the 16 winners advance into two groups of eight. The winners of those two ‘super leagues’ would then advance to the final.
However, as the Champions League is in the first term of a three-year rights contract it would be difficult for any change until after the 2017-18 edition.
An Uefa spokesperson told The Guardian: “Uefa is in constant contact with all stakeholders, including the clubs, on all football matters.
“Therefore, any plans to evolve the format of our club competitions would be coordinated and negotiated together with them. There are currently no concrete proposals on the table since we are at the beginning of a new cycle (2015-18) of our club competitions.”
The changes would see the bigger clubs guaranteed at least 14 money-spinning games against other leading sides, because they would play each other home and away.
An example came in 2008-09 when Real Madrid were drawn in a group that included Bate Borisov. The ties between the two sides attracted low viewing figures and there is a firm desire to avoid repeats in the future by having more high-profile games, generating a bigger income.
Creating two leagues of eight clubs would mean abolishing the present so-called ‘round of 16’ which, it is accepted, is not working in its present guise. So, instead, there would be at least one more knock-out round before the groups stages to weed out the weaker teams and reduce the number left in the competition earlier without the big clubs losing out.
It was reported earlier this week that at the start of the month senior executives from Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool met in London with American sports executive Charlie Stillitano to discuss the possibility of a change to the Champions League.