UEFA is currently facing one of the difficult challenges this year apart from the covid-19 issue leading to the uncertainty format for the upcoming EURO 2020. The Champions League has been considered to change its format in the next two seasons at least. The new format, which is believed to be in favour of the big teams with great records in the past and tradition, have been objected by several parties, including FA, Premier Leagues and the mid and low rank leagues across the continent. Its controversial proposal on Champions League format as a response of the looming threat of European Super Leagues, which was initially set to be determined and confirmed through a vote at the end of March, was finally delayed till April 19 in the next UEFA Executive Committee meeting.
A number of clubs, associations and leagues expressed their objection for various reasons. FA and Premier League, for example, disapprove the proposed format since it will lead to another fixture congestion issue in the domestic competitions due to the rising number of matches to play in total and at the group stage. Meanwhile, the associations and leagues of the lesser known ones mainly protested about the format itself which consequently limit their chances to play in the European top-tier competition. The opposition on such format apparently came from one of the top teams as well but it is more related to the revenue distribution.
The new format of Champions League has been discussed and planned to be incorporated in 2023/24 season. The number of contestants will be added from the current 32 to 36 teams. However, there will not be 8 groups of four as it is any longer. Instead, the entire teams will be put into one big league for the preliminary round. The top European leagues will be the ones who could enjoy the advantages of the new system, inspired by a so-called ‘Swiss model’ commonly used in chess. They have four slots taken from the top four teams in the final standings plus three or two more for any teams with historic continental record. This will enable a big team like Liverpool this season to play in Champions League despite finishing outside the top four. The remaining teams will be given to the champions of the national leagues outside those top five elite leagues with high UEFA coefficient ranks. This system allows each team to play only ten games, five home and away matches, without necessarily having to face off all of them in the table. The fixtures will be decided early through seeding to give each team a chance to encounter the teams on the high, middle and low ranks. Then, based on the final standings, the teams on the top eight will automatically progress to the round of 16 while the remaining eight teams will be determined by the play off against those finishing on the ninth and below.
At glance, this seemingly interesting format does potentially attract more with the clash of elite teams. However, it also becomes unfair regarding the contestants as it will be more exclusive to the top clubs only. In fact, the new format is just trying to be like the one in European Super League.