UEFA and the European Club Association has announced that a vote for the new Champions League reforms to alter the format, will take place come Monday. The new proposed format by Andrea Agnelli will follow a Swiss model adapted from the ones used in the chess competition. The new model will also feature four more teams, making the total count from 32 to 36. The model intends to boost revenue and increase competitiveness. The proposed Champions League reforms already have been greeted with fan protests across Europe.
🗣 “We demand that you drop your reckless plans.”
✍️ Fans’ groups from clubs on the @ECAEurope Board have written an open letter to chairman Andrea Agnelli opposing #UCL reforms. FSE has signed the letter & fully supports their stance. #StopUCLReforms pic.twitter.com/lY7BQwu65L
— Fans Europe (FSE) (@FansEurope) April 16, 2021
The proposed system if approved will come into effect from the 2024/2025 season when the current broadcasting deal comes to a closure. Fans from across Europe have voiced their rebuke for the new format that is being proposed. A number of protests to these reforms have emerged and they in overwhelming majority believe this will further disrupt the balance of power in the Champions League.
WHY THE PROTESTS AGSINST THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE REFORMS?
🇩🇪 National supporters’ organisation in Germany, Unsere Kurve, call on the DFB Vice President & UEFA ExCo Member Rainer Koch to vote against the proposed #UCL reforms
🗣️ “One vote against reform is one vote for football”
— SD Europe (@SDEurope07) April 16, 2021
The rich become richer and the poor remain poor. Bayern Munich fans have joined the Football Supporters Europe wrote an open letter to the European Club Association and its chairman Andrea Agnelli voicing their concerns and disapproval of the latest proposals for the change in the format of the UEFA Champions League.
They were joined by supporters from Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Ajax, Anderlecht, Atletico Madrid, Benfica, Borussia Dortmund, FC Copenhagen, Fenerbache, Young Boys, and Lyon.
‘Your plans to restructure the Champions League by increasing the number of games, introducing qualification based on past achievements, and monopolising commercial rights present a serious threat to the entire game,’ said the joint letter, which has been coordinated by Football Supporters Europe, a coalition of fan groups across the continent (via Daily Mail).
The European Football supporters believe that the powerbrokers of European football are merely trying to squeeze more revenue out of the system. The fans accuse them of being greedy and point out that the supporters prefer quality football over quantity. They also highlight the damage the players and people within the industry will face if such a change occurs.
The European footballing competition is already having one of the shortest off-seasons in World sporting events and the added fixtures will only lead to more fatigue and injury for the players. Furthermore, the main beneficiaries of this proposed change would be the national leagues, the UEFA and the big teams in Europe. Hence, the further unbalancing the distribution of power and finance between the rich clubs and the rest in Europe.
‘You will only make the gap between the rich and the rest bigger, wreck domestic calendars, and expect fans to sacrifice yet more time and money.’- via Daily Mail
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
The letter also emphasised the hurdles the football fans will likely face. Even in this current scenario according to a report from BBC Sport, 82 per cent of the supporters aged 18-24 had to “put off” from attending matches due to the steep ticketing prices. The increase in European matches will only further this imbalance. Compared to the 8.4 per cent increase in the Consumer Price Index in the UK, the ticketing prices have manifolded three times as much.
📣 “Most supporters do not want, nor can we afford, more football. Instead, we want better football.”
🏆 The FSE paper on the future of UEFA club competitions is now available.
— Fans Europe (FSE) (@FansEurope) March 11, 2021
Most supporters do not want, nor can we afford more football. Instead, we want better football. Only somebody desperately trying to feed an addiction to costly transfers, wages, and agents fees could conflate the two. And only somebody with a fundamentally different understanding of the game to the vast majority could describe the Swiss Model as “beautiful”, as European Club Association (ECA) chairman Andrea Agnelli did at the organisation’s 25th annual general assembly. – Ronan Evian, Executive Director, Football Supporters Europe
The letter also talks about the nature of the domestic leagues in Europe which have gotten increasingly uncompetitive. Juventus have won Serie A nine times, Bayern Munich has won the Bundesliga eight times, and Paris Saint-Germain has won Ligue 1 seven times. Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, meanwhile, have won La Liga nine times between them.
Elsewhere, Dinamo Zagreb has won the Croatian topflight nine times, Olympiakos have won the Greek Super League eight times, and Legia Warsaw has won the Polish Ekstraklasa six times. Only the Premier League stands out, with five winners, but the difference between those clubs who regularly qualify for the UEFA Champions League and those who do not is pronounced.
🤝 Thanks to @coe for the opportunity to brief host cities & public authorities on our ongoing #EURO2020 work & reiterate our call for the involvement of fans’ representatives in return to stadia protocols. pic.twitter.com/rOJiV7o380
— Fans Europe (FSE) (@FansEurope) April 16, 2021
This gulf in quality mainly emerges from the financial barriers that surround the lower-ranking clubs in each league. Barring the Premier League, the evidence of an unequal distribution of wealth among the top three and the rest is visible. The UEFA nor the European club Association have not taken any measures to curb this gap. The proposal of the new Champions League reforms is only a rudimentary indication of the same and kind of helps understand the reason behind all the fan protests.
— The FSA (@WeAreTheFSA) April 16, 2021
The power that is vested in the European Club Association and the elite Clubs in football will likely push to implement the new Champions League reforms despite all the protests. The new format will heighten the disparity that already exists in the industry. The outcome of this reform will be a landmark in the future of European Football.