BERLIN: If UEFA president Michel Platini is serious about wanting to fold the Europa League into the Champions League then he should think again, according to Borussia Dortmund boss Hans-Joachim Watzke.

The German league leaders’ chief executive was dismissive of reports in the local media about UEFA doubling the size of the Champions League group stage to 64 teams after 2015.

Watzke believes the Europa League – rebranded and reorganised version of the UEFA Cup – has  proved it value in commercial and sporting terms.

He said that Dortmund had made €13m from it when they took part last season, even though they were knocked out in the group stage.

Watzke, interviewed in Sport Bild, said: “This is complete nonsense. Why should a premium product such as the Champions League be artificially watered down? I have liked almost everything that Platini has done so far, but now he is completely on the wrong path.

“The fans don’t want to see the third-placed team from Lithuania. Marketing is not everything. The Europa League has generally been accepted by the fans. We received €13m from taking part one and a half years ago. That is a significant quantity of money.

“Of course, the financial difference between the Champions League and Europa League is very big, but could be reduced by solidarity contributions from the Champions League to the Europa League.”

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