New-look Champions League to cause fixture headache for Europe’s top leagues

An agreement on a new format for Europe’s men’s club competitions from 2024-25 was finally signed off in Vienna on Tuesday

Jamie Gardner
Friday 13 May 2022 14:16
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Europe’s domestic leagues are assessing the impact on scheduling posed by this week’s Champions League reforms (Mike Egerton/PA)
Europe’s domestic leagues are assessing the impact on scheduling posed by this week’s Champions League reforms (Mike Egerton/PA)

Europe’s domestic leagues are assessing the fixture headache created by the newly-approved plans for the Champions League.

An agreement on a new format for Europe’s men’s club competitions from 2024-25 was finally signed off in Vienna on Tuesday after more than three years of intense debate.

The number of midweek rounds reserved for Uefa competitions – when top-flight domestic football is usually off limits – has gone up from six to 10 in the group phase.

European football is also set to be played in January for the first time, traditionally a busy month of domestic league and cup football in England.

European Leagues, an umbrella body representing 37 professional leagues across the continent including the Premier League, welcomed the decision to drop plans to award places to clubs based on their historic European performance, and to limit the increase in Champions League matches to two.

But the new format does pose some challenges, which the leagues will now study.

The group’s statement read: “The Leagues will continue to work constructively with Uefa and all stakeholders to ensure there is a balance between European and domestic club football that can help the game at all levels to thrive.”

The next battleground will be how revenues from the new competition – forecast to increase by almost 40 per cent – are distributed, with European Leagues concerned to ensure competitive balance within and between leagues.

Currently four per cent of annual club competition revenue is set aside for non-competing clubs – European Leagues believes this percentage should increase.

It also believes the wide gap between the revenue earmarked to Champions League participants compared to Europa League and Conference League must close.

In 2021-22, Champions League clubs were forecast by Uefa to be able to share in 2.032 billion euro (£1.73billion) compared to 465m euro (£396.3m) to Europa League clubs and 235m euro (£200.3m) to Conference League clubs.

European Leagues is also understood to be seeking a reduction in how much clubs earn via their coefficient scores – which are based on historic performance over 10 years – and via the market pool, which is determined by the size of the broadcast market in the country the club are from.

Sources within the leagues say that the revenue split in the Conference League – where 40 per cent of the money is paid as a starting fee, 40 per cent based on performance, 10 per cent on coefficient and 10 per cent on market pool – is preferable to the current split in the Champions League.

In Europe’s top club competition, 30 per cent of revenue is distributed based on coefficient score and 15 per cent on market pool.

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