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Football ‘close to an ideal Champions League’: Agnelli

The new format of the Champions League after 2024 could be “close to ideal” and just a short time away from being formalised, Andrea Agnelli, boss of Juventus and the European Club Union (ECA), said on Monday.

“I would dearly hope that everything would be done within the next couple of weeks,” said Agnelli after a general assembly of the ECA which confirmed the consensus around a remodelling of the group phase and the expansion from 32 to 36 clubs. 

“There are details that need to be addressed, one being the access to the competitions,” he said. 

“If we have four extra spots, how will these be allocated? 

“But I would say within a couple of weeks everything should be pretty much sorted.

“It’s very, very close to an ideal Champions League.”

Discussions will continue over who will benefit from the four extra spaces although it looks likely France, which currently only have three spots, will be allocated one of them to bring them into line with England, Spain, Germany and Italy.  

The new format would see the scrapping of the current ’round-robin’ group stage comprising eight groups of four clubs, each playing the other three teams home and away, a total of six matches leading into the knockout stage.

In its place will come a single group of 36 clubs playing a ‘Swiss system’ in which they would play 10 matches against 10 different opponents, before switching to the knockout phase.

This mini-championship is likely to lead to even greater media exposure and hence inflated TV rights.  

Juve president Agnelli attributed the idea to Edwin Van der Sar, the former Manchester United goalkeeper who is now chief executive of Ajax. 

The new format may quell the rumours of Europe’s wealthiest clubs forming a private breakaway ‘Super League’.

“Regarding these speculations, they have been in the air for 20 years,” said Agnelli.

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