UEFA are reportedly considering making major changes to the current qualification criteria of the Champions League in order to appease those calling for a European Super League.
According to La Gazzetta dello Sport (via the Sun‘s Andrew Richardson), the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and Bundesliga could all be guaranteed four tournament spots from the 2018-19 season with three allocated by league position and the fourth chosen based on “historical achievements.”
Thus the top three teams from Europe’s four-best leagues would qualify, and the final spot would allow for the likes of Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, AC Milan and Juventus to almost always be present even if they have an off season.
Richardson added that the French, Portuguese and Russian leagues would all have two secure places while “four or five” would go to Ukraine, Belgium, Holland, Turkey and Switzerland, and “there would then be five or six places for the 50 or so clubs that would compete in the play-offs.”
The tournament would remain in the same format as it currently exists—with eight groups of four sides being whittled down for a knockout stage—but there would be less risk of the likes of AC, Inter Milan, United and Liverpool not qualifying for Europe’s premier competition, as has been the case recently.
Indeed, the Red Devils will not be in the Champions League next term for the second time in three seasons, while neither Milan club—who have won the competition a combined 10 times—have been represented since 2012-13.
It is unclear what specifically is meant by “historical achievements”, and there could surely be an argument that the likes of Blackburn Rovers—currently in the Championship—and Leicester City have a claim to be perennially considered for a Champions League spot having won the Premier League.
Meanwhile, Portuguese pair Porto and Benfica would surely move to be guaranteed a spot having both won two European Cups in the past.
Spain’s fourth spot would likely be hotly contested, as Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid have monopolised the top three spots in La Liga—the potential automatic qualifying places—for the last four seasons.
Should that trend continue, Valencia would have a claim to the fourth “historic” qualifying spot given their La Liga triumphs and Champions League final appearances in the early 2000s, as would Sevilla having won the UEFA Europa League five times since 2006.
Italy would benefit the most from the potential new system as they lost their fourth Champions League spot to Germany in 2012-13 after dropping down the coefficient rankings.
|Real Madrid||11||1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2014, 2016|
|AC Milan||7||1963, 1969, 1989, 1990, 1994, 2003, 2007|
|Bayern Munich||5||1974, 1975, 1976, 2001, 2013|
|Barcelona||5||1992, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2015|
|Liverpool||5||1977, 1978, 1981, 1984, 2005|
|Ajax||4||1971, 1972, 1973, 1995|
|Inter Milan||3||1964, 1965, 2010|
|Manchester United||3||1968, 1999, 2008|
|Nottingham Forest||2||1979, 1980|
|Red Star Belgrade||1||1991|
That has had some impact on the historic Milan clubs not being represented—Inter would be in the Champions League next season were Italy to still have four spots—but mainly it has been the two Italian giants’ poor form.
While the intermittent absence of Inter, AC, United, Liverpool—and Chelsea next season—does remove some of the glamour from the Champions League, there is a very valid argument that such sides don’t deserve to be there unless they can qualify by the current criteria.
It also allows for new sides to be represented in the storied competition.
However, there are clearly concerns about the major clubs missing out regularly on the continent’s biggest and best competition, and steps are seemingly being made to rectify the situation.
Originally Published on Bleacherreport
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