Allow: Elite – the big clubs are favored by the reform

Reform der Champions League
Allow: Elite – Uefa openly courts the big clubs

Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior (l) and Manchester City’s Kyle Walker in the Champions League semifinals

© Michael Regan / Getty Images

Instead of breaking up the balance of power in European football, the reform of the Champions League only solidifies it. Big leagues like England, Spain, Germany and Italy continue to receive preferential treatment. That harms the competition.

Overcomplicating something is a great way to take the edge off it. What a moment ago aroused anger and fury suddenly seems mild, simply because a fog of words has wrapped itself around the stumbling block and nobody knows what it’s actually about anymore.

The European football association Uefa pursued this strategy when reforming the Champions League. From 2024, the field of participants in the so-called premier class will be increased again, now from 32 to 36 teams. In the future it will be played in a league system; each team plays eight games, from the round of 16 the knockout mode takes effect as before.

Especially in Spain you will be happy

Originally, Uefa wanted to give two of the four new starting places to clubs that had been successful internationally in the past but had not been able to qualify for the Champions League. A storm of indignation set in, especially in the small leagues: This regulation is a kind of rescue package for the big, traditional clubs and distorts competition. Uefa bowed to the pressure and decided on the following rule on Tuesday: Two wildcards will go to national associations that performed best in the previous season. The performance value of an association is calculated by dividing the total number of points earned by the number of participating clubs.

Sounds pretty complicated – and distracts from the fact that the financially strong European leagues are being served again. According to this regulation, the English Premier League would currently also receive a wildcard, the most profitable football league in the world. Spain, Germany and Italy follow in the ranking places. All leagues with clubs that are considered global brands in football.

Spain in particular will be happy about the Champions League reform. The financial needs of the two heavily indebted top clubs Real Madrid and FC Barcelona are enormous. These days, La Liga reported a loss of €892m. FC Barcelona alone is responsible for more than half of the deficit; he generated a deficit of half a billion euros in the 2020/21 season.

A reform in the spirit of the big clubs

With its reform, Uefa is openly sponsoring the big European clubs. Anyone looking for reasons for this has to look back at the events of April 2021. At that time, twelve European clubs (including Chelsea, Liverpool, Barcelona and Turin) announced that they wanted to found a Super League far away from Uefa: A closed event for big boogers without and climbers. A machine built to print even more money.

After worldwide fan protests, the project collapsed within just two days, but the shock at Uefa, whose authority had been questioned like never before, is still deep today. Since that revolutionary April, Uefa President Alexander Ceferin has been trying very hard to keep football celebrities happy so that they don’t get the wrong idea again.

The new competitive mode offers big clubs a soft cushion. The first eight teams of the group of 36 reach the round of 16 directly; the teams ranked 9th to 24th play off the other round of 16 places in play-offs. Plenty of chances for the big names to correct a botched normal round in the playoffs. Small clubs will find it even more difficult to surprise in the future. But these are not desired in the world of Uefa anyway.




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