Premier League clubs in line for four Champions League group-stage places in competition shake-up
England was on Thursday set to be handed four permanent Champions League group stage places under a revamp of the competition from the season after next.
The club which finishes fourth in the Premier League would no longer have to play a qualifier to gain entry to the tournament proper in a move that would stave off the threat of a breakaway European Super League before 2021.
Uefa was scheduled to meet the European Club Association, whose members include the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City, to finalise a deal ahead of the Champions League draw in Monaco.
An agreement to hand four guaranteed places to teams from England, Spain, Italy and Germany would end months of uncertainty over the future of the competition, which has seen ideas discussed as radical as a Super League, guaranteed places for the biggest clubs regardless of how they fare domestically, and Saturday fixtures.
Those changes have been driven by the top Spanish and Italian clubs, partly over fear about the growing financial gulf between them and Premier League teams and partly to try to make the Champions League group stage more attractive.
England’s so-called big five were caught earlier this year attending a meeting at which the prospect of a European Super League was floated but they denied any interest in the idea.
Such a breakaway was never a realistic prospect anyway, with a proposal for teams from the big four leagues to be given four permanent Champions League places a much more likely outcome.
Had this format existed in this season’s competition, City would not have needed to contest a play-off round against Romania’s runners-up Steaua Bucharest.
The big winners from the proposed revamp would be clubs from Italy, which currently has just three Champions League places, only two of them permanent.
The side finishing third in Serie A has failed to reach the group stages in six of the past seven years, Roma being the latest after going down 4-1 to Porto on aggregate after losing 3-0 at home on Tuesday.
Although Uefa could lift the threat of a play-off defeat for the biggest clubs, it is likely to retain in some form the co-efficient system that would still lead to England surrendering its fourth Champions League spot if Premier League sides badly underperform in Europe over a number of seasons.
Uefa and the ECA declined to comment on the nature of the deal they are poised to sign, with the former saying only it “expects to announce the evolution” of the Champions League.
That is sooner than billed, with European football’s governing body having previously played down the prospect of finalising changes until later this year.
Such amendments are only possible every three years due to Uefa’s broadcast deals, the current incarnations of which expire in 2018, with those for the 2018-21 seasons going out to tender early next year.
An earlier-than-anticipated revamp announcement may be politically motivated, with the organisation in the process of electing a new president.
Aleksander Ceferin, the head of the Slovenian Football Association, is the favourite to succeed the disgraced Michel Platini and there may be concerns about the potential for him to interfere in the process were a deal not to be struck ahead of next month’s ballot.
The other two candidates, Spain’s acting Uefa president Ángel María Villar Llona and Dutchman Michael van Praag, are already members of the body’s ruling executive committee.
Seferin was poised to meet officials from the English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish football associations on Thursday in an attempt to add their support to 20-plus pledges of support for his candidacy he proclaims to already possess.http://www.telegraph.co.uk/football/2016/08/24/premier-league-clubs-in-line-for-four-champions-league-group-sta/
Once again money talks... there is also talks about moving Champions League games to weekends.