Manchester United and neighbours Manchester City have joined hands with the rest of the English Premier League clubs in order to vote against the proposed alteration of the UEFA Champions League format.
The chief authorities of all top-division clubs, including Manchester United CEO Ed Woodward, were in attendance in Friday’s meeting in London to contest the proposals made by UEFA and the European Club Association.
The proposal advocates a significant transformation of the Champions League group-stage format with the current structure of eight groups of four teams to be remodelled into four groups of eight teams each.
The governing bodies of UEFA and the ECA, backed by Juventus owner Andrea Agnelli, propose to increase the currently-played six group-stage matches to fourteen group-stage matches.
This will not only severely hamper domestic leagues across Europe, but would also mean that secondary cup competitions like the Carabao Cup in England and the Coupe de la Ligue in France would have to be discontinued.
Agnelli has also championed the idea of reducing domestic leagues to 18-team competitions, which would then allow increased Champions League fixtures to be played. He has outrightly claimed that the elite European clubs should welcome increased competition, viewership and the riches which would follow the revamped Champions League format.
The new format will also banish the system of top four domestic clubs qualifying for the Champions League directly, like in Spain and England. Instead, a qualification co-efficient system will be established where Champions League’s historical superpowers will benefit greatly.
A unanimous decision was taken by the leading Premier League clubs at the summit, the statement of which said:
“All clubs unanimously agreed it is inappropriate for European football bodies to create plans that would alter the structures, calendar and competitiveness of the domestic game and will work together to protect the Premier League.
In England, football plays an important role in our culture and everyday life. Millions of fans attend matches across the country, with allegiances and local rivalries often passed down through generations. We have a fantastic combination of competitive football and committed fans that we will vigorously defend.
The structures of domestic football are determined by leagues and their respective national associations. We will now work with the FA and other leagues to ensure that European football bodies understand the importance of this, and their obligation to maintain the health and sustainability of domestic league football.”
The current UEFA Champions League broadcast deal runs out in the year 2024, following which the governing bodies aim to implement the restructured format. The Premier League has clearly stated its stance on the proposal, and do not look like backing down.