European Leagues detail post-2024 ideas for Champions League

September 6, 2019

GENEVA (AP) — Europe's top soccer leagues announced a Champions League vision on Friday that rejects radical changes wanted by elite clubs.

The 29-nation European Leagues group said its core principles for reform include no new promotion or relegation between the Champions League and Europa League from 2024, and limiting teams to six group games.

The proposal detailed at a soccer conference in Lisbon rejects the European Club Association's plan for locking in 24 of 32 Champions League places.

The ECA also prefers eight-team groups giving clubs 14 games each, squeezing available dates for national leagues and cups.

European Leagues said Champions League entries must be based on qualification from the domestic competitions, except for the winner retaining its place.

Though mostly supporting the status quo, the 36 member leagues are "open to new innovations," European Leagues president Lars-Christer Olsson said.

Still, changes should be "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," Olsson said.

UEFA's consultation on potential changes to take effect in 2024 has stalled while clubs and leagues are far apart in their proposals.

A meeting between the leaders of UEFA, the ECA and European Leagues was to take place next week at the European soccer body's headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. It was canceled by UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin, knocking back a realistic timetable to decide post-2024 changes potentially into 2021.

Leagues officials are using the latest three-year review of the competitions by UEFA to push for what they say is a fairer distribution of prize money.

Total revenue from broadcasting and sponsorship sales for the Champions League, Europa League and season-opening Super Cup is currently 3.25 billion euros ($3.6 billion) each season.

The 32 Champions League clubs will share 1.95 billion euros ($2.15 billion) this season. That is expected to rise in the next round of commercial sales for 2021-24 when UEFA launches a third club competition, currently called Europa League 2.

European Leagues want UEFA to withhold 20% of total revenue and share it with other teams not playing in the group stage of the three competitions.

The leagues want at least 49 of UEFA's 55 member federations to be sure of representation with one team or more across the three group stages, helping retain appeal across Europe. This season, countries including Poland, Iceland and Finland no longer have any clubs involved even in the Europa League.

Another principle stated Friday is raising status of the fifth-ranked national league — currently France — to have the same UEFA entry rights as the top four of Spain, England, Italy and Germany. It would add one to France's six-team quota.

European Leagues also wants UEFA to stop using a ranking table of clubs' historical record in more than 60 years of European competition to allocate 30% of Champions League prize money.

That formula, which the ECA pushed UEFA to agree to in 2016, steers money toward storied clubs. It will pay Real Madrid more than 35 million euros ($40 million) this season regardless of Champions League results.

ECA officials also presented their case in Lisbon, and cited issues of "financial distortion and club polarization, declining competitiveness, unexploited potential in a changing media landscape, and limited recognition for club performances in Europe."

More than 230 clubs have been invited to a two-day ECA meeting starting Monday in Geneva.