Why the Champions League must have a radical change in format

Why the Champions League must have a radical change in format
Why the Champions League must have a radical change in format
As the quarter-finals begin, the Champions League is about to approve a radical change in its playing formula from 2024 onwards. The traditional format will be replaced by a model with a single table and new classification criteria. Behind this change, there is a political and financial dispute involving the European superclubs, UEFA and Fifa.

The story began when the big European clubs organized themselves for a rebellion against the current system of football. His goal was to create a Super League with 20 teams that would have no relegation or promotion, but fixed participants in the NBA style. There would be no connection with UEFA or FIFA.

Commanded by Real Madrid, who face Liverpool on Tuesday, the plan was already detailed in January and predicted that the new championship would raise 4 billion euros (R $ 26 billion). Their priority would be clashes between superclubs in a league, leaving aside national championships.

There was strong resistance from UEFA and Fifa that see in the new competition the elitization of football with the formation of an eternally superior caste. The fight, which involved opposition even from Conmebol, ended in a momentary retreat from the clubs. In return, UEFA would make changes to the Champions League formula to make it more profitable.

Currently, the competition has 32 teams from its group stage and generates 3.25 billion euros. But there are 2 billion distributed to the clubs, that is, they earn half of what they would raise with the Super League that they intended to create. Thus, UEFA had to increase Champions revenue to calm the superclubs.

There is only one way to increase the money in a competition: to increase the number of games. A new format agreed between UEFA and ECA (major club entity) has already been approved. That formula would be made official last week and is now due for a new meeting on April 19. There is resistance from national leagues that lose space for games.

The new format ends the groups and creates a unique table with 36 teams in the first phase. Each of these teams will play a total of 10 games at this stage. The opponents of each would be defined by rankings and sweepstakes. In other words, there would be four more games per team in relation to the group stage.

Thereafter, the top eight placed in the 36-team table would be automatically classified for the round of 16. Teams positioned between 9th and 24th place would have to play an extra knockout. The winners would join the top eight to form the playoff phase. From then on, the competition would continue the same as the current formula.

With these changes, a team could play up to 19 games to be champion. Currently, there are a maximum of 13 games if the association starts from the group stage.

In total, there would be an increment of 100 matches in the Champions League, that is, UEFA will be able to charge more to televisions and sponsors for more views. And there has been a change in the distribution of income between clubs with a new criterion by ranking of performance in the last ten years. This favors the superclubs that are always in the competition.

The more traditional clubs would still be favored with two entries by invitation if they do not qualify in their leagues for the Champions. They would be invitations based on technical criteria.

The “new Champions”, therefore, is the result of an attempt to accommodate between the interest of the superclubs to get even richer and UEFA to maintain the existence of the competition without the teams abandoning it for another adventure.

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