UEFA has been forced to ditch radical plans to reshape the Champions League group stage from 2024.
Almost all of the leagues across Europe expressed their opposition to the revamp leaving UEFA with no option but to ditch their plans which centred on a massive increase in fixtures with less reliance on domestic league position for a share of the riches coming in from sponsors and broadcasters.
The main proposals were for four groups of eight teams creating 14 group stage matches with the top six clubs in each group (24 of 32 places) automatically qualifying for the competition the following season regardless of their position in the national league.
Fourteen rounds of midweek matches before Christmas would have obliterated domestic football and television contracts with the EPL, the richest league in the world, firmly against the plans.
The proposals were generated by the executive of the European Club Association (ECA) but were flatly rejected by the EPL as AP News reported:.
When the ECA gathered English member clubs in London last month, an attendee recalled how an executive from Arsenal pointed out the process had achieved something rare: Uniting the Premier League. The moment was recalled by a person in the room who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the contents of the meeting.
A public joint statement from the 20 English topflight clubs after their annual meeting in June expressed unanimous opposition to “inappropriate” plans that would no longer leave them chasing the top four places to qualify for the Champions League or the next two to make the Europa League.
At present the champions of Scotland face four rounds of qualifiers to get a share in the group stage with Ajax, semi-finalists last season after knocking out Real Madrid and Juventus, forced to play two qualifying rounds.
The current set up will stay in place next season at least.
After joining the ECA Executive in March 2014, Peter Lawwell said:
It is a privilege to be part of such a great Board and of such a great organisation. There are huge challenges ahead for European football, but we are ready to take these challenges and find solutions.