Olsson says ‘no decision’ on Champions League format imminent

By Andrew Warshaw

October 18 – No final decision on the format to revamp the Champions League post-2024 will be taken for at least a year but a closed shop competition is a “no go” area, according to the head of the umbrella body representing Europe’s major leagues.

Lars Christer Olsson, head of the European Leagues, says nothing can be finalised without some kind of agreement  over the structure of financial distribution since the two are interlinked.

Addressing a news conference following the Leagues’ general assembly in London, Olsson also re-iterated that qualification must be based on domestic performance season on season and that clubs’ co-efficient based on past historic success should never give them priority.

Earlier this month, not for the first time.Olsson clashed with Andrea Agnelli, president of the European Clubs Association (ECA), over the way Europe’s top competitions should be run amid suggestions that the proposed new Champions League arrangements look dangerously like a closed shop with only a few spots available for qualifying through domestic leagues.

And he was back on familiar territory when addressing the same issues today. “It’s a no-go area,” said Olsson. “A closed league would be detrimental for media rights. I don’t believe it would generate more resources.”

“Some 20 associations have made proposals to UEFA … and those I have seen all say that (qualification) has to be on results in the domestic competitions. Plus, they are against promotion and relegation.  I can’t see a (final) decision before the autumn of 2020 and perhaps not until the spring of 2021.”

There was another matter, said Olsson, that is “equally important” –  financial distribution.

Olsson said clubs in the leagues his body represents are concerned that UEFA’s third-tier competition, the Europa Conference League — aimed at making  European club football more accessible to smaller clubs when it is introduced in 2021 – will not sufficiently catch on.

“Our leagues have requested that an adjustment is made in the distribution of money,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of comments from clubs who may be playing in the Europa Conference League that the matches may not be important enough and that the stadiums may not be full and that therefore they may not be able to generate income.”

“If you introduce a third competition and the clubs are losing money it will be counter-productive. That was their message.”

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