The news isn’t stopping anytime soon after Sunday’s announcement that 12 of the biggest European club football teams are creating a new breakaway European Super League (ESL) competition. However, that has not stopped UEFA from doing what it had planned to do all along on Monday — ratify and announce the proposed changes to the Champions League.
UEFA officials voted and approved the new format for the Champions League, moving it from the past model of 32 teams in eight groups of four to a new “Swiss model,” which includes an expanded 36 teams in one large division, and with each participating team playing 10 home and away matches. the top eight clubs in the table progress on to the quarterfinals and a knock-out competition.
The background to this is, of course, that now nobody’s quite sure which clubs will be participating in the Champions League next season, or even if it will happen at all. That’s part of the fallout from the ESL’s announcement on Monday. The Super League was met with strong condemnation from UEFA, the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1, and many others, not to mention widespread disapproval from football fans across the globe.
UEFA has threatened to ban players at Super League clubs from participating in UEFA-administered events, including prohibiting them from playing for their international teams, not an idle threat with EURO 2020 starting in just a few months. Lawsuits are expected to follow, but the information is still too new to really get a sense of how everything is going to shake out quite yet.
In the meantime we now have two dueling European competitions — one more open for qualification (but with its own sets of issues regarding monetary compensation and greed) and one mostly closed with a token qualification. Neither side is exactly covering itself in glory.
More almost certainly to come.