ECA pledges promotion and relegation in 'pyramidal' Champions League post-2024
Europe’s top soccer clubs are being presented with a possible new structure for the elite Champions League that would come into effect in 2024 and likely incorporate more matches for the participating teams and a form of promotion and relegation.
In a letter to the organisation’s 232 members, Andrea Agnelli, the chairman of the European Club Association, set out the principles for the restructuring, and invited them to discuss them at a special general assembly in Malta on 6 and 7 June.
European Leagues, the body which represents Europe’s leading national leagues, England’s Premier League, Spain’s LaLiga and France’s Ligue 1 have all expressed their opposition to any changes to the Champions League that would impact on their leagues, including on competitive balance.
Agnelli, who is also the chairman of Italian champions Juventus, has asked for feedback on “principles we feel are fundamental to the future of European football.”
These feature a “pyramidal Pan-European league system with continuity and opportunity to grow from within" and the "enhancement of mobility and dynamism across the system through carefully applied promotion and relegation.”
He also insisted that the European competitions will have to be “an inclusive platform for all clubs, based on sporting meritocracy, not historical privilege,” a response to fears of the prospect of automatic qualification for the Champions League for top teams, and that "symbiosis" must be maintained with the domestic leagues.
Uefa has previously played down concerns over a revamp of the Champions League, saying that a meeting it had with the ECA in March was merely “an informal brainstorming session to allow for an initial sharing of ideas and exchange of views around Uefa Club Competitions post-2024,” while Agnelli has denied there are plans to play matches at weekends.
In his letter, the Italian stated that the criticism had been based on “incorrect speculation and rumour,” and encouraged the clubs not to attend a meeting with European Leagues, in Madrid on 6 and 7 May, to which all ECA members have been invited.
Lars-Christer Olsson, the president of European Leagues, responded by describing Agnelli’s as “a strange letter” with “false accusations” and said he expected clubs to be “grown up enough” to decide whether to attend.
Olsson has acknowledged that his organisation has different views to the ECA on the development of the European competitions, and will be sharing these with the Uefa executive committee at a planned meeting in Nyon on 8 May.
He said: “Do not forget that it is the football associations that ‘own’ Uefa who take the final decision.”