The details of the European Cup reform have been clarified. If the German clubs do well, another club will benefit for the following season. The increased number of games remains questionable.
The European Cup fever in Berlin, Cologne and Freiburg would currently rise again.
If this reform of the Champions League, which had been highly controversial for months, had already come into force, and if FC Bayern and Borussia Dortmund had done better – yes, then the Bundesliga fifth would also play in the premier class in the coming season. In this season, which ends at the weekend with decisions on the European Cup places, it will remain the same for the time being: The UEFA reform will come in 2024 – and with it the question of who should watch so much football.
The number of games
“More participants and more games do not necessarily lead to more enthusiasm and higher quality,” said Bernd Neuendorf, President of the German Football Association, after the UEFA executive on Tuesday in Wien final details of the partial revolution had decided. The 60-year-old meant that in a positive way, because the number of preliminary round matches per team in the premier class – it will then be 36 instead of the previous 32 – has been reduced from the initially planned ten to eight. The game is no longer played in groups, but in a league system. In the Champions League, that still means 64 more games.
Each club plays eight different opponents in four home and four away games. The top eight qualify directly for the knockout round, the others up to place 24 play in playoffs for entry into the round of 16. A final tournament like the triumph of FC Bayern in the Corona summer of 2020 is off the table. Similar changes will also be introduced in the Europa League (eight games in the league phase) and the Europa Conference League (six games).
“We worked hard to finalize things. There were some controversial points,” said UEFA competitions director Giorgio Marchetti. In particular, fan groups and the merger of the European leagues had recently been clearly criticized.
The coefficient problem
Originally, two of the four additional teams were to qualify on past European success – a kind of safety net for big clubs after a poor season’s performance, encouraged by the club’s ECA association. The UEFA Exko decided on a compromise: the two places do not go directly to clubs, but to the two national associations that did best in the European Cup (Champions League, Europa League and Conference League) last season. The next best club from the league would move up – in Germany the fifth.
“I’m glad that a good solution was found today. This includes the fact that a team’s sporting performance in their national league in the previous season is still decisive for a starting place in international competitions,” said Neuendorf. UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said: “Only sporting performance will continue to determine qualification and all clubs can continue to dream of participating.”
After the 2019/20 season, Germany would have gotten one of the two new places with the Bayern triumph. In theory, even seven German Champions League starters are possible: If both the Champions League and the Europa League are won by German clubs, but they don’t make it into the top five in the Bundesliga – and if Germany was one of the best in the previous season both nations was. England and the Netherlands would benefit in the current season, Holland also because of Feyenoord Rotterdam’s final in the Conference League.
“We listened and acted where necessary,” said Marchetti, pointing out that the next topic with huge potential for disputes would only be negotiated later: the distribution of money. UEFA will market the additional games for a lot of money. The fears of fan groups that the gap between big and small clubs will continue to grow enormously are still huge. “We have to take a little breath and then we start this process,” said Marchetti.
© dpa-infocom, dpa:220511-99-242239/2