Supersizing the Champions League by 100 games per season will threaten English football FA is warned

‘Supersizing’ the UEFA Champions League by 100 games each season ‘would make the richest clubs even more wealthy at the expense of the rest’ and threaten domestic competitions, the Football Association has been warned.

The FA, along with another 54 associations across Europe, met with UEFA yesterday to consider plans to reform the competition, but reportedly none challenged the proposal despite far-reaching implicatons.

The proposal includes increasing the number of participating clubs from 32 to 36 and expanding the group phase from six matches to 10.

It is also suggested that clubs with a history of European success would have preferential access to three of the four new slots, with the final one awarded to clubs within the fifth ranked country, which is historically, France 

Clubs with recent history of European success could have a protected route into  competition

Clubs with recent history of European success could have a protected route into  competition

The consequence of all this would be to increase the number of matches each year from 125 to 225 – an 80 per cent rise – in a so-called ‘Swiss Model’ in which clubs are seeded.

The aim is to make the £2billion Champions League larger and more lucrative, but according to sources spoken to by Sportsmail, the sheer scale of new competition would threaten domestic football.

UEFA, under the leadership of president Aleksander Ceferin, is currently engaged in a fast-track process to agree a new format to offset the risk of a rival European Super League gaining more ground.

Yesterday, the governing body met with the 55 member associations, and talks are ongoing with the European Clubs Association, European Leagues, players’ and fans’ groups.

Aleksander Ceferin, president of UEFA, sees a threat from the European Super League

Aleksander Ceferin, president of UEFA, sees a threat from the European Super League

A source involved in the consultation told Sportsmail: ‘There is already a growing gap between the clubs that participate in the Champions League and those that do not.

‘An even bigger Champions League means that more money will be distributed among those participating clubs.

‘But the vast majority of clubs are playing at domestic level, so they will actually have access to less money.’

The fear is that broadcasters will pay a far bigger price for the enhanced Champions League, funding the larger competition and prize money, which will leave less revenue to pay for the TV rights of domestic competitions.

Fan across Europe are said to value domestic league and cup competitions most

Fan across Europe are said to value domestic league and cup competitions most

In other words, Champions League participants, which tend to be a similar group of clubs from the major leagues each season, could become even richer, and the other teams will see a fall in income meaning the competitive gap between the top and bottom of national leagues will widen.

In addition, the number of extra games would also call into question the future of domestic competitions, such as the Carabao Cup, it’s claimed.

Football Supporters’ Europe, a coalition of fan groups across the continent, said last week supporters ‘care first and foremost about how… clubs fare in domestic leagues and cups’.


UEFA’s proposals to reform the Champions League includes increasing participation in the competition from 32 to 36 clubs from 2024.

The teams would be seeded in one division and drawn against each other in the group phase, using a system popular in chess called the ‘Swiss Model’, before proceeding to the knock-out rounds.

This would make match-ups more varied than in the current format and address concerns that the early stages have become stale.

UEFA wants the number of group phase games to increase from six at present to 10, which would increase the number of matches overall from 125 to 225, an 80% increase.

Football’s European governing body is responding to criticism of the current format and reacting to a threat from the continent’s biggest clubs to form a breakaway European Super League.

The super league plan, pushed by Real Madrid among others, would see a competition of 20 clubs, with 15 guaranteed participation based on their previous record in Europe.

The wealthiest clubs want to guarantee their participation in the most lucrative competition.

The expanded Champions League goes some way towards satisfying the big clubs need for more money and access.

The competition would command more revenue and it is proposed by UEFA that two of the additional four places be allocated using a coefficient, taking into account previous performance in European competition.

This would mean that if a Manchester United, Arsenal or Liverpool finished outside of the Champions League qualification places, but in a Europa League of Europa Conference League spot, they may still qualify at the expense of a team with a lesser record.

A third additional place would go to a club with the strongest record in European competition that wins a league with automatic qualification to Champions League.

Ans the final additional place would go to the country placed fifth in the UEFA rankings, which is usually France.

Premier League executives were among those at the European Leagues' meeting on Friday

Premier League executives were among those at the European Leagues’ meeting on Friday

After it met on Friday, the European Leagues, a representative body of 30 competitions, including the Premier League, said it has ‘strong concerns’ about UEFA’s proposals and highlighted the need to retain ‘the sporting and financial balance of domestic leagues’.

European Leagues President Lars-Christer Olsson has warned the associations to look carefully at all the implications of the plans following their briefing from UEFA.

Lars Christer Olsson has urged football associations tolook carefully at UEFA's plans

Lars Christer Olsson has urged football associations tolook carefully at UEFA’s plans


Manchester United, Real Madrid and AC Milan are the driving forces behind the plans for a European Super League, to replace UEFA’s Champions League, according to The Times.

An 18-page proposal includes details of the proposed league, which includes plans for the format, membership, prize money and even financial fair play rules.

The current proposal is for the league to have 15 permanent founder members, who would receive greater financial reward and five annual qualifiers.

The league would be divided into two groups of 10. The top four in each group would compete in quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final, which would be held at a weekend.

Participating teams would play between 18 and 23 matches a season, as well as competing in their domestic leagues.

It is believed the plan would be for six clubs to be included as founder members from England — this could be the Big Six of Liverpool, the two Manchester City and United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur — plus three from Spain, three from Italy, two from Germany and one from France.

The venture is believed to have the support of investment bank JP Morgan Chase

The document highlights the benefits of the super league, including huge revenues for participating clubs as well as the ability to offset losses associated with Covid.

The privileged teams with ‘founder member’ status would be awarded up to £310m to join the competition and as much as £213m from competing in the partially closed league.

‘I hope more and more associations understand what is happening,’ Olsson, a former UEFA chief executive, told The Associated Press.

However, the proposals ‘were not challenged by a single association’ at the meeting, according to sources spoken to by Sky.

Many of the relatively small footballing nations, which have little prospect of their clubs qualifying for the Champions League, may be tempted by an offer of an increased short-term revenue stream above the long-term implications.

The English Football Association has refused to comment on the subject, despite the possible implications of the proposed change.

But former FA chairman David Bernstein told Sportsmail: ‘The financial disparities within the Premier League and between the top tier and the rest of the game are already great. The implications of a supersized Champions League are far reaching and need to be carefully considered, because it risks making these disparities even greater.

‘Regular participation in a much larger and more lucrative Champions League will make the richest clubs even more wealthy, at the expense of the rest and the impact will be felt throughout the pyramid.

‘The increased number of matches would put pressure on the domestic game increasing the pressure for a smaller Premier League, the Carabao Cup would be under threat and the FA Cup would be further devalued.

‘And if the Champions League takes a greater share of broadcast revenue there will be less money available to the Premier League, undermining the competitive nature of the top tier, and increasing the financial pressure on clubs at every level.’

Speaking as a member of the high-powered consortium, Manifesto for Change group, Bernstein said the proposals and their potential impact underline the need for a single body to administer football in England.

‘It has never been more important for English football to speak with one, unified voice,’ added Bernstein.

‘A regulator would provide leadership and a common position for all of English football in this debate, and it would help to mitigate the impact of whatever changes are agreed.’

Former FA chairman David Bernstein hascalled for an independent regulator of football

Former FA chairman David Bernstein hascalled for an independent regulator of football

‘Saving the Beautiful Game – Manifesto for Change’ key recommendations

  • Create a new regulatory body for football that is independent of the current structure of the game
  • Decide on new ways of distributing funds to the wider game based on a funding formula and a fair levy payable by the Premier League
  • Set up a new and comprehensive licensing system for the professional game
  • Review causes of financial stress in the English Football League, including parachute payments and salary caps
  • Implement governance reforms at the FA which are essential to ensure it is truly independent, diverse and representative of English football today
  • Liaise with supporters’ organisations
  • Learn lessons from abroad and champion supporter involvement in the running of clubs