Fans’ groups from across Europe have joined forces in an open letter calling on European Club Association president Andrea Agnelli to abandon reckless plans to change the Champions League.
Fans representing 14 teams, including Arsenal, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Ajax, have called the plan to expand Europe’s premier tournament to 36 teams (from the current 32), with each club playing 10 group games, an obvious power grab.
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The proposals for the Swiss system, which will come into effect from 2024, provide a safety net for elite clubs that fail to qualify by allocating two places based on previous performance in Europe.
The total number of games played will increase from 125 to 225, which will put tremendous pressure on national leagues to shorten their schedules to accommodate this change. Juventus boss Agnelli, a staunch supporter of the system, will chair Friday’s meeting of the European Court of Auditors to decide whether he supports the change.
If ECA agrees to the changes, UEFA is expected to ratify the proposal at its Executive Committee meeting on Monday.
Their plans to restructure the Champions League by increasing the number of matches, introducing qualification based on past success and monopolising commercial rights pose a serious threat to football as a whole, according to a letter signed by groups under the Football Supporters Europe (FSE) umbrella.
Instead of achieving your supposed goal of building a thriving, sustainable and socially responsible football industry, you will only widen the gap between the rich and the rest, ruin the calendar and expect fans to give even more time and money.
The fans are not in favour of the proposed changes for the Champions League. Photo: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
UEFA believes an expanded Champions League would increase revenue and prevent the break-up of the much-discussed European Super League, but supporters’ groups believe the competitive balance would be upset by a closed shop of 15 founding members with a guaranteed share.
The FSE argues that not all of the more than 200 ECA members will benefit.
Such a blatant power grab would have been justified in better times, but in the midst of a global pandemic, it is nothing more than taking advantage of a crisis – not to mention the solidarity shown by fans, she added.
Last year we supported our clubs unconditionally, bought season tickets with no hope of attending matches, paid for TV subscriptions to watch replays in empty, soulless stadiums, and all the while you were behind the scenes finding new ways to cheat us. But we have neither the time nor the money to invest in your fantasies or fund your insatiable greed. And finally, we are your business model.
Most ECA members will also be affected by the proposed reforms. We are modern fans and we don’t want any more European matches. We want strong and competitive national leagues, equal opportunities to qualify for Europe on merit and a fairer distribution of the resources of the game.
We therefore urge you to abandon your reckless plans. We are also calling on the Football Association to stop making concessions to the elite clubs and to intervene to protect the future of the game.
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