The BBC initially reported that UEFA are expected to agree to the new Champions League format proposals on Wednesday, involving a number of changes. Though UEFA’s approval has now been thrown into doubt, it’s still worth looking at what it would mean.
The current group stage would be scrapped. It would be replaced by a system where every team plays 10 matches against opponents varying in strength to form an overall league table.
The top-eight would then progress to the knockout stages, whilst teams from nine to 24 would play a play-off round to determine who joins the top-eight. Another bonus for the top-eight is that they all automatically qualify for next year’s competition.
The Champions League would expand from 32 teams to 36 teams, with two wild-card entries for clubs with the highest UEFA coefficient who haven’t already qualified.
Right now, that would mean Liverpool qualifying, but it would be good news for Arsenal in the long term. The Gunners have a strong coefficient score and look like improving it this year after reaching the Europa League quarter-finals.
For English football as a whole, however, it’s a little worrying. The new packed schedule – with as many as six extra games necessary – would put the EFL Cup at risk of disappearing completely. Not a big deal for Arsenal, but certainly a problem for the EFL.
At the very least, England would probably need to scrap FA Cup replays and the EFL Cup’s two-legged semi-finals.
With an ongoing row over commercial rights, we’ll have to wait and see whether the new proposal ends up going ahead.