Date: 11th September 2019 at 7:37am
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The future of the Champions League is up in the air after the European Club Association were forced to abandon plans for a new look competition were kicked into touch.

Creating 14 group stage match days instead of eight and ensuring 24 places were awarded on the basis of placings in the previous seasons competition went down like a lead balloon when they were explained to individual clubs and leagues.

With 232 clubs spread across the continent the ECA should have a firm grasp of needs across UEFA but the drive towards reform seems to have been led by Juventus chief and ECA chairman Andrea Agnelli with no-one in the 24 man Executive Committee prepared to warn against the plans.

Covering the two day ECA conference in Geneva the BBC reports

Although no-one said it publicly, in private, the blame for the current impasse is being attributed to Europe’s big five leagues, from England, Spain, Italy, France and Germany.

The feeling is those leagues are more concerned about protecting their lucrative domestic TV markets from any erosion caused by the expansion of the European game, than they are about the betterment of the continent as a whole.

The current Champions League broadcasting contracts run until 2024 with the new format needing to be agreed by 2022 in order to be able to send them out to tender.

Celtic’s place in negotiations seems to be best represented by Ajax who have similar aspirations but greater clout and sympathy after reaching last season’s semi-final, knocking out Juventus and Real Madrid on route.

Cutting down on the 16 places set aside for clubs from the four richest leagues should be the aim, opening the door for more champions from countries like Scotland, Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic.

How that can be achieved is another matter entirely with Edwin van der Saar of Ajax the leading voice in a sea of accountants, spreadsheets, broadcasting and advertising deals.