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10th May 2019

Gary Lineker concerned by proposed changes to Champions League

The Champions League could be set for a massive overhaul

Darragh Murphy

‘Deeply concerning’

Gary Lineker is clearly not a fan of the proposed changes to the current Champions League format.

Lineker has described the suggested overhaul “deeply concerning” following a report which revealed the contents of a proposal that Uefa are apparently considering.

AP report that Uefa are considering a proposal which would see a massive restructure to Europe’s top club competition in 2024.

The proposed changes would favour Europe’s elite clubs as 24 of the 32 teams in the group stage would be guaranteed to keep their lucrative places in the tournament the following season, regardless of how they fare domestically.

For teams from lower-ranking leagues, qualification to the Champions League will prove more difficult than ever before as fewer places will be up for grabs.

If the draft plan is put in place, four Champions League teams will be relegated each season into the following season’s Europa League while the semi-finalists from the Europa League will be promoted to the top tier, Champions League.

The proposed restructure will see the current model of eight four-team groups replaced by four eight-team groups which will guarantee eight more group games for teams, resulting in greater revenue for every side involved in the competition.

In terms of qualification, only four places will be left for national champions competing in preliminary rounds which will only serve to tighten the grip that elite clubs currently hold over European football.

It remains to be seen how the clubs will be selected for the group stage of the 2024/25 Champions League campaign although it is suggested that a club’s historical record in European competition may be a factor.

Uefa have insisted that the current maximum of five teams from one country in the Champions League will be not be exceeded in any revamp.

A third-tier European competition, currently called Europa League 2, is set to be introduced in the 2021/22 season and while it will follow the current European model of eight four-team groups in that campaign, the plan is to increase the involvement to 64 teams playing in four divisions of 16 teams by the time the 2024/25 season gets underway.