MADRID: Europe’s leagues are setting the bar high in the latest moves of the chess match which will reach checkmate with a reshaped UEFA Chanpions League writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Lars-Christer Olsson, president of the European Leagues grouping, said at a Madrid summit that he had “significant concerns” about the effect of an expanded tournament with promotion and relegation could damage traditional domestic leagues including even the richest in Englandm Spain, Germany and Italy.
Andrea Agnelli, chairman of the both the European Club Association which represents 200-plus regular competitors as well as Italy’s Juventus, had urged his members not to attend a leagues-centred debate on a pyramidal system he wants to see introduced from 2024.
But Olsson, a former general secretary of European federation UEFA, claimed most of the 244 clubs who attended were opposed to the expansion.
Olsson said: “I can say with a lot of confidence that the vast majority of the clubs at this meeting today were saying they are not in favour of a development outlined by the ECA president.
“They don’t want to see promotion and relegation, they don’t want a pyramidal system and they don’t want a closed league in Europe.”
Olsson feared that the ECA plan would require weekend dates which have “always been reserved for domestic competition.”
ECA vice-chairman Edwin van der Sar, the ceo of Ajax Amsterdam, said after the meeting that there was a bigger picture of which the leagues needed to be persuaded.
He said: “There has been a lot of talk about closed system, weekend games and I don’t think that is true. They are creating something that is not there.
“The main thing we are working for is trying to get more access for more clubs and more countries such as Poland, Turkey and Portugal, for examples.”
Clubs in mid-sized leagues wanted “interesting and meaningful games” which meant readjusting the parameters of European competition.