By Andrew Warshaw
March 31 – A decision on the future of the Champions League post-2024 has been delayed until next month with UEFA seemingly at loggerheads with Europe’s elite clubs and leagues over the precise nature of the deal.
It had been expected that UEFA’s executive committee would approve the new format today but the final rubber-stamping has been pushed back to the next UEFA Executive Committee meeting on April 19 with UEFA indicating that there is more negotiation to take place.
A UEFA press release following today’s exco meeting said: “The UEFA Executive Committee – including the representatives of the European Club Association and of European Leagues – unanimously approved the new timeframe for a decision on the format of UEFA club competitions post-2024, with a decision to be made on 19 April 2021.”
Reports suggest the delay is a disagreement over control of commercial rights in discussions with the European Club Association.
The changes proposed by UEFA in its ‘Horizon 2024’ package amount to the biggest ever overhaul of the competition, designed mainly to avoid the threat of a breakaway Super league.
After UEFA postponed a ruling that would have ratified the plans, the ECA said it was not yet “in a position to formally endorse key changes” until further talks over who runs the competition had taken place.
“The executive board believes that if European football is to meet the challenges it currently faces, the foundations for ECA and UEFA’s future relationship also need to be given due consideration at the same time,” the ECA said in a statement.
The move will be seen by smaller clubs as being motivated by the bigger ones in order to accrue a larger share of the financial cake.
Last week, in a separate move, it was revealed that 10 European football associations had written to UEFA expressing serious misgivings about the future format. The ten want UEFA to guarantee that access to the new-look competition will be based on domestic league positions rather than historical criteria.
UEFA’s plans are set to comprise a single 36-team league, known as the ‘Swiss system’, to replace the current group stage and will involve significantly more fixtures to accommodate the new format.
The European Leagues, which comprise 35 competitions in 30 countries, is adamant that any new Champions League system must maintain competitive balance and not allow the qualification process to favour heavyweight teams with historical success records.
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